Imagine sitting back in a comfortable chair in your holistic physician's office and providing your body with such a boost of nutrients that you are able to see more clearly after the one-and-a-half-hour treatment session than you could before it. That was what happened to Lou, an 83-year-old patient who had age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease in which the macula (part of the retina) degenerates, causing vision loss. Lou had "wet" AMD, the more severe form of the disease in which abnormal blood vessels form, leaking fluid into the macula.

The treatment that helped Lou was intravenous (IV) nutrient therapy, a technique in which vitamins and other nutrients are delivered directly into the bloodstream in an IV solution, flooding the body's cells with higher levels of the nutrients than they would get from ingesting them. IV nutrient therapy can help both wet and "dry" AMD, a less severe form of the disease.

I use IV nutrient therapy to treat patients with chronic fatigue and heavy metal poisoning. IV nutrient therapy has been found to help viral hepatitis C...heart arrhythmias caused by nutritional imbalances...and neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's. AMD responds particularly well to IV nutrient therapy.

One of the leading practitioners of IV nutrient therapy in the country is Paul Anderson, ND, a professor of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University near Seattle. He created the IV nutrient therapy for AMD. I trained with Dr. Anderson and now use his protocol with my patients. Dr. Anderson provided more information about this treatment…

How It Works

The eyes' tissues are extremely responsive to nutrients—which is why holistic physicians tell their patients to take antioxidants such as lutein, which has been found to slow the progression of AMD. So just consider what nutrients can do for eye tissue when administered intravenously at up to 100 times the concentration of antioxidants taken orally. While there have been no studies yet on IV nutrient therapy for AMD, patients who have had the treatment report extremely positive results that include restoration of most-but not all of the vision that had been lost. The therapy can be effective at stopping the disease from progressing further.

First, a patient is cleared for IV nutrient therapy based on a medical exam and blood tests to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the treatment. (Patients also are monitored throughout the treatment. The infusion for AMD includes vitamin C (for its antioxidant properties) and selenium and zinc, chromium (an element that strengthens blood vessels) and l-carnitine (for its neuroprotective benefits). Dr. Anderson gives patients at least six infusions, usually two a week for the first three weeks. If the patient is age 75 or older or has advanced

AMD, he may recommend as many as 12 infusions. Each infusion takes about one-and-a-half to two hours and typically costs $150 to $200. Check to see if your insurance plan covers this type of treatment.

After a patient's nutrient levels have gotten this boost, the patient can maintain any improvement in vision by following a therapeutic regimen of oral supplements combined with a diet high in flavonoids, plant nutrients that have antioxidant properties. This regimen also can be used to help prevent AMD.

Flavonoids are important to eye health because they can neutralize inflammation in the eye. Foods high in flavonoids include beans (red kidney beans, pinto beans), dark-colored fruits (blueberries, cranberries, blackberries) and vegetables (cabbage, onions, parsley, tomatoes). Make these foods a regular part of your diet. Recommended maintenance supplements include…

  • A multivitamin to ensure that patients get many vitamins and minerals that are in the IV treatment.
  • Fish oil that contains the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. These help to maintain the healthy structure and function of ocular tissue and keep eye cell membranes fluid and flexible.

Dose: At least 1,000 milligrams (mg) to 2,000 mg daily. Some patients need even more.

  • Eye-health supplement. These supplements contain nutrients that support eye health

Brand to try: Eye-Vite (made by KAL and available at health food stores and online), which contains zinc, beta-carotene, vitamin E and bilberry fruit extract (a rich antioxidant) and other nutrients.

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that benefit macular tissue. The best way to ensure that you get the appropriate amounts of carotenoids is to take them in supplement form.

Dose: 15 mg daily of lutein and 3 mg daily of zeaxanthin with a meal.

  • Taurine and l-carnitine. These amino acids are beneficial to eye health because they help nerve tissue in the brain conduct impulses needed for vision.

Dose: 500 mg daily of taurine and 1,500 mg daily of l-carnitine.

A high-density bioflavonoid supplement. To ensure that you get enough flavonoids, it is recommended that you take a supplement such as Cruciferous Complete (made by Standard Process, 800-558-8740, www.Standard, which contains phytochemicals from plants in the Brassica family (vegetables such as kale and brussels sprouts). These vegetables protect against free radicals (disease-causing molecules), help eye function and stimulate the body's cleansing systems. Follow label instructions.

When patients are properly screened for IV nutrient therapy by a physician trained in this treatment, IV therapy is safe. To locate a physician who administers IV nutrient therapy, contact International IV Nutritional Therapy for Physicians (503-805-3438, www.IVNutritional This organization helps people find IV nutrient therapists in their areas.

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