The Roman poet Juvenal wrote, "Randum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano." You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.
It has been known for a long time that for the mind to function optimally, it must be supported by a healthy body. People suffering from illness and disease, and those close to them, become emotionally overloaded with fear, depression, and anxiety, among other difficulties. Invasive and exhausting treatments can deplete a person's resilience and coping strategies.
In addition to the popular and well-loved approaches to optimum health such as massage, yoga, Pilates, and weight training, there has been a rising interest both by lay people and traditional medical scientists in exploring the effect of various dietary supplements, herbal remedies, vitamins, extracts of plants, fruits or tree barks on health and disease.
Complementary Medicine, Alternative Therapy, and Integrative Therapy
What are the differences between these?
- Complementary medicine complements traditional medical approaches with additional methods that are used along with traditional medical treatments (medications, chemotherapy, radiation).
- Alternative medicine is an approach used in place of traditional medical practices.
- Integrative medicine considers a person’s entire health and wellness, using the most evidence-based means to optimize health or fight disease. Integrative medicine is holistic in its approach, focusing on the mental, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of health.
Presently, there are numerous novel high-tech methods such as blue light therapy, red light therapy, neurofeedback, low-level laser therapy, electromagnetic therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and cryotherapy chambers. I shall deal with these in the future.
Today, I want to focus on three therapies that have received strong support from the scientific community. They are high-dose intravenous (IV) vitamin C, NAD+ oral tablets, and mistletoe injections.
Intravenous Vitamin C
IV therapy is the infusion of liquid substances directly into a vein. Intravenous fluids in the alternative medicine universe may consist of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, botanicals, or homeopathic medications. Intravenous therapy is preferable to oral supplementation as it bypasses the digestive system, which, in many instances, causes a breakdown of the supplement-food and thus decreases its effectiveness.
Vitamin C (VitC), also known as ascorbic acid or ascorbate, is an essential water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in human physiology. Most of its physiological functions involve its ability to act as an antioxidant or as a cofactor (a substance whose presence is essential for the activity of an enzyme) for a wide variety of enzymatic reactions, thereby contributing to collagen health, norepinephrine synthesis, and iron absorption.
In addition, immune cells accumulate high concentrations of VitC, underlining its key function in various processes within the immune system. While most vertebrate species can synthesize ascorbic acid, humans cannot, and they are, therefore, dependent on oral consumption of VitC.
IV VitC has emerged as one of the most effective therapies to specifically address the cytokine storm characteristic of the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) that may occur with COVID-19. This is not surprising considering the effects of IV VitC on the immune system response and its known antiviral properties.
Vit-C has been reported to be beneficial in the treatment of elevated cholesterol and arteriosclerosis, corneal ulcers, glaucoma, burns, heatstroke, sunburn, slipped discs, toxins, and heavy metal poisonings. VitC has also been administered to treat hepatitis, herpes, chickenpox and measles, infectious mononucleosis, trichinosis, urethritis, arthritis, and, most importantly, cancer.
Researchers from the University Medical Center in Amsterdam found that VitC has the potential to be a potent anti-cancer agent when administered intravenously and in high doses. Early-phase clinical trials have confirmed the safety and indicated the efficacy of IVC in eradicating tumor cells of various cancer types. This is good news indeed.
However, the scientists responsible for this research caution us that the dose of IVC has to be sufficiently high to generate millimolar concentrations of VitC in the plasma, and IVC should be administered at least twice a week for at least eight weeks.
The Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, University of New South Wales, Australia has been studying the benefits of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) in age-related degenerative disorders. NAD+ is an essential pyridine nucleotide that is present in all living cells.
NAD+ acts as an important cofactor and substrate for a multitude of biological processes including energy production, DNA repair, gene expression, and immunoregulatory roles. NAD+ levels have been reported to decline during aging and age-related diseases. Recent studies have shown that raising intracellular NAD+ may be a promising therapeutic strategy for age-associated degenerative diseases.
Recently, Channing Paller, assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has reported on a study of 21 patients with advanced and treatment-resistant cancers of various types using mistletoe extract, or ME, known as Helixor M. Stable disease was observed in five patients and lasted, on average, for 15 weeks. Tumors in three participants decreased in size and remained stable for two to five months. Patients also reported overall improved quality of life.
A large body of evidence is accumulating suggesting that VitC, when administered intravenously and in high doses, has potent cancer-selective cytotoxic, and toxicity-reducing properties. The administration of mistletoe is controversial due to suboptimal trials and a lack of data supporting its intravenous administration. NAD+ therapy is generally accepted as valuable.
Please keep in mind that while these methods may have potential benefits, their effectiveness and safety may vary. Doing your own research and consulting with a healthcare professional before trying any alternative medicine approach is always a good rule of thumb. I am not endorsing or recommending any particular therapy.
Paller, C. J., Wang, L., Azad, N. S., ... & Diaz Jr, L. A. (2023). Phase I trial of intravenous mistletoe extract in advanced cancer. Cancer Research Communications, 3(2), 338–346.
Böttger, F., Vallés-Martí, A., Cahn, L., & Jimenez, C. R. (2021). High-dose intravenous vitamin C, a promising multi-targeting agent in the treatment of cancer. Journal of experimental & clinical cancer research, 40(1), 1–44.
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Sugarman, Joe (2014). Are Mistletoe Extract Injections the Next Big Thing in Cancer therapy? Johns Hopkins Magazine