Vitamin C Treatment in the Covid-19 Era
As researchers race to find effective treatments for the Coronavirus, people all over the world are anxious to find remedies. Considerable attention has focused on news that high-dose vitamin C infusions have been administered to COVID-19 (coronavirus) patients in the intensive care units (ICU) at certain hospitals in the United States and in China.
This has sparked sharp debate on the internet, as some mistakenly hailed the treatment as a potential “coronavirus cure”. Subsequently, others push back mistakenly claiming that the treatment is useless. As a Physician with over 30 years of experience, I will try to help make sense of this confusion.
What We Know Already
The idea that high-dose IV vitamin C therapy can help in overcoming infections is not new. We know that adequate vitamin C is necessary for our body's immune system to function properly, and without sufficient levels of vitamin C humans face a higher risk of health problems including viral respiratory disease. Vitamin C also plays a role in reducing the body’s inflammatory response. Furthermore, recent clinical studies have indicated that individuals who receive adequate vitamin C supplementation experience shorter lengths of time displaying symptoms of viral infections such as the common cold and influenza.
What We’re Finding Out
Numerous clinical studies have shown that vitamin C may help to reduce the risk and severity of influenza infections, and to shorten the length of time that patients spend both in the intensive care unit (ICU), and on ventilators.
12 trials with 1,766 patients indicated that vitamin C treatment reduced the length of ICU stays by 7.8% on average. Another six trials showed vitamin C reduced the length of ICU stays by 8.6% (Hemila & Chalker, 2019).
Three trials with patients that needed mechanical ventilation for over 24 hours showed that IV vitamin C treatment shortened the overall length of mechanical ventilation by 18.2% (Hemila & Chalker).
Using randomized trials, Dr. Harri Hemilä from the University of Helsinki, Finland, found that high dose vitamin C treatment reduced the duration of colds by 19% compared to the placebo group (2017).
Not All Vitamin C is Created Equal
Vitamin C supplementation can be delivered in two forms: Orally (PO) and Intravenously (IV).
While vitamin C is incredibly safe, when taken orally it can irritate the digestive tract and can cause diarrhea.
When delivered through an intravenous (IV) infusion, commonly known as a Myers Cocktail, or simply an IV drip, our body’s are able to achieve much higher levels of vitamin C within the bloodstream than would be possible by taking the vitamin orally. Once in the bloodstream, our bodies are able to utilize the vitamin at the cellular level; and in contrast with oral vitamin C administration, this is accomplished without the risk of irritating the digestive tract or causing diarrhea.
What this Means for You
Will IV vitamin C therapy prove to be effective for preventing and treating the novel coronavirus? Hopefully, ongoing studies will give us the answer, but given the vitamin’s potential effects of lowering the duration and severity of the common cold and influenza, and given the low cost and extreme safety of vitamin C supplementation, you may wish to consult with myself, (or another MD) to decide whether IV vitamin therapy may be beneficial for you as an individual.
Keep in mind, social distancing, frequently washing your hands thoroughly, and cleaning often-used surfaces are currently the most effective ways to minimize your chances of contracting COVID-19. As our community continues to work through this together, be assured that Rosie and I are here and available to help you in any way that we can. We hope you are happy, safe, and healthy.
Dr. Mark Biliack,
Revital-AZ Medical Spa & Laser Center
7401 Easy St, Carefree, AZ 85377