High Dose VitC for Dogs with Cancer
Great article by: Dr. Tom Schell DVM, Animal Wellness Magazine, December 2016.
When injected at high doses into a pet or person, vitamin C offers some amazing healing benefits and can even help treat cancer.
Vitamin C is a well-known nutrient. It’s an organic compound with notable antioxidant properties, and is present in many fruits, including the ever popular orange. We are all familiar with vitamin C’s ability to help battle colds and flu, but when given intravenously, this nutrient can offer additional levels of protection and benefit to the body, whether human or animal, and can help treat cancer and other conditions. In Part 1 of this article, we’ll look at the development and benefits of high dose vitamin C therapy.
Injecting high doses of vitamin C
Back in the 1930s and 40s, several physicians and researchers – most notably Frederick Klenner, MD, and Linus Pauling, PhD — began to explore and utilize high dose nutrient infusions for a variety of condition in human patients, with great success.
Dr. Klenner injected variable doses of vitamin C into his patients, and noted rapid improvements in conditions ranging from allergic reactions to bleeding, pain and even cardiac concerns. He quoted Hippocrates by saying, “of several remedies, physicians should choose the least sensational”, and noted that vitamin C meets that requirement – it’s unsensational in presentation but not in function or impact on the patient.3 I understand this as a veterinarian, since we are often more inclined to use heroic methods to aid our patients, utilizing high-powered medications and procedures, when in reality, nature can actually provide a nice remedy.
Since the early 20th century, vitamin C has proven beneficial not just for preventing scurvy, but for improving overall health and immune support in humans. Dr. Klenner and many others utilized high and variable dose vitamin C injections in their patients with tremendous results, often when other therapies had failed and research was not yet available to support the use of intravenous vitamin C.
Vitamin C and cancer
In 1954, Dr. W.J. McCormick theorized that cancer was a disease of collagen deficiency (thus really a type of scurvy) resulting from vitamin C deficiency. Some theories state that cancer not only develops but potentially grows and spreads as a result of collagen loss, because collagen helps create a barrier around the tumor.
Over time, certain therapies, such as Gerson Therapy, incorporated diets high in vitamin C into cancer treatment. But it wasn’t until 1971 that high dose vitamin C therapy became increasingly well known, with the help of Dr. Linus Pauling and Ewan Cameron, MD. Although many physicians utilized the therapy for quite some time prior to this, research and support in the medical community was lacking. Even after 1971, Dr. Pauling noted that there was a lot of debate and resistance to the idea, despite research and clinical work demonstrating efficacy. So even though high dose vitamin C therapy became well known and debated, it wasn’t necessarily accepted.1 High dose vitamin C and nutrient therapies were further defined and refined by Dr. John Myers, whose therapy was named the Myers Cocktail.4
How vitamin C is able to aid cancer patients is not precisely known even today, but we do know several mechanisms of action that may be of benefit. Vitamin C has been proposed to benefit the body through several mechanisms (see sidebar):1
As a practicing veterinarian, I was familiar with vitamin C, but not its extraordinary potential for benefiting dogs and cats. In 2006, I was approached by an alternative human research facility to evaluate high dose nutrient infusion therapies in canine patients afflicted with cancer. It turned out that this research facility had been using nutrient infusion therapies in their human patients for quite some time with interesting results.
This was an interesting time during my career — not only did I learn quite a lot about alternative options for my patients, but I was able to see firsthand how these therapies could benefit animals with a multitude of illnesses.
During this research trial, which spanned many months, we utilized derivatives of the original Myer’s Cocktail in patients afflicted with different cancers, from lymphosarcoma to osteosarcoma. The infusions consisted of high doses of vitamin C, but also included other nutrients such as magnesium sulfate, calcium gluconate, B vitamins and other cofactors. The infusion were designed to be administered twice weekly as a solo therapy, or along with traditional chemotherapy, if chosen. The animals were monitored for blood tumor markers, both initially and post therapy.
We learned and observed several things. First, the therapies benefited the animals on many levels, mainly by restoring their energy, healing ability and appetite. Secondly, in a large majority of the patients, we saw a reduction in blood tumor markers, indicating recovery or a step towards recovery. In a few cases, we even saw a complete remission of the presenting condition.
We found that one of the biggest limiting factors in giving high dose vitamin C injections to animals was venous access or the ability to administer the infusion intravenously. In human patients, physicians have the option of leaving in an indwelling catheter for future use, but this is not really an option in pets as most will not respect the catheter nor keep it clean. We resorted to placing a new venous catheter with each infusion, but after a week or two, access to those veins was often poor. Another limiting factor, in all honesty, was client compliance. Despite the fact that the infusions for this trial were performed at no charge, clients would often not show up for the next appointment or simply felt that the next infusion was not needed due to short term improvements in their pets.
In the end, we witnessed some dramatic positive changes in our trial patients, indicating that dogs and cats with cancer can benefit from high dose vitamin C therapy the way humans do. We also learned a tremendous amount that will benefit future animal patients outside this research trial.
1Head, K. “Ascorbic Acid in the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer”, Alt Med Rev, Vol 3, No.3, 174-186.
2U.S. National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus (online).
3Frederick Klenner, MD. “Significance of High Daily Intake of Ascorbic Acid in Preventative Medicine”. (Personal manuscript, publication date unknown).
4Gaby, A. “Intravenous Nutrient Therapy: The ‘Myer’s Cocktail”, Alt Med Rev, Vol 7, No 5, 389-403.
Intravenous Vitamin C therapy, while debated as to the extent of its efficacy, has clear health benefits and no toxic side effects when administered correctly. I was able to have our oncology vet administer daily intravenous vitamin C infusions for a period using this liquid C that I purchased and gave to them. This is what I used.
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