At least a few times each month a new patient will come into my practice because they want to have intravenous vitamin and mineral infusions to treat fatigue. They usually start by saying that they have had IV infusions before and they really helped. They usually ask if we can do an IV infusion as part of the first visit and are often interested in skipping the “formalities” of the initial consultation. While I do offer a variety of IV infusion therapies to treat many symptoms, this request always sets off alarm bells in my naturopathic brain. It strongly suggests that the causes of the patient’s fatigue have not been identified or addressed and instead they have utilized IV infusion treatments to give them more energy. In this week’s column, we will discuss the areas we should investigate before we treat the symptom of fatigue with IVs.
IV infusions are a great tool for NDs to have in practice, especially when they are used for the right reasons. IVs can significantly help people with immune deficiencies, chronic infections, deep adrenal fatigue, poor healing capacity, depression, anxiety, addiction recovery … and the list goes on. However, I rarely consider IV infusions to be the most effective way to treat the underlying causes of most people’s health concerns. Instead, I view IVs as a potent way to stimulate healing and gain momentum with the therapies that more directly treat the causes.
The most common causes of fatigue that need to be assessed before jumping to any therapy include iron deficiency, blood sugar/insulin dysregulation, inadequate nutritional intake, poor digestion/absorption, thyroid conditions including auto-immune, adrenal dysregulation, and other forms of hormonal imbalance. IV infusions can help with all of these causes of fatigue, some more than others. However, I don’t believe IV infusions can be the stand alone therapy or even the chief therapy in the treatment plan.
IV infusions typically contain some combination of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and possibly other botanical or homeopathic remedies. They can quickly and potently make up for deficiencies of these nutrients. They can also quickly help people feel more energy, more capable, and a sense of calmness. It’s tempting for patients and doctors to use IV infusions because of their potential ability to make quick action. However, after looking at the most common causes of fatigue it becomes clear that the nutrients in IV infusions don’t actually treat the underlying causes of most people’s fatigue.
In conclusion, I highly recommend anyone suffering from fatigue to pursue advice from a medical practitioner who will take the time to identify the causes of fatigue. Don’t just jump to treatments. And don’t simply live with fatigue. In conventional medicine fatigue is often ignored or treated as depression with anti-depressants. Most patients I work with who suffer from fatigue do very well with improving their energy because we spent the time evaluating where the fatigue is actually coming from and then addressing that very cause.