Natural Medicine San Diego

By Dr. Samantha Larkin, ND- Associate Doctor and Manager of the Spark Health IV Program

When you think of vitamin C, you probably think of its anti-oxidant, immune-supportive qualities. What you may not realize is that vitamin C has different qualities when delivered in low doses versus high doses! The only way to get high concentrations of Vitamin C into the blood is through an IV, since the digestive system prevents absorption of high amounts of Vitamin C.

In the 1970s, Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize winner, led the way in the development of high dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) as an adjunctive cancer treatment. His research indicated that patients with advanced cancer survived longer with high dose vitamin C treatments than those who did not receive high dose vitamin C. (1)

More well-controlled clinical trials in humans are necessary to definitively say that high dose vitamin C is curative for patients with certain cancers, however, there is plenty of evidence to suggest its value as a safe and effective adjunctive (complimentary) cancer treatment.

High dose IV vitamin C leads to the production of hydrogen peroxide in the areas surrounding cancer cells, causing damage to those cells. (2) It has been shown that cancer cells are particularly prone to injury by the hydrogen peroxide, while normal cells are able to safely change the hydrogen peroxide into water. (3) Normal cells have an enzyme called catalase that is responsible for converting hydrogen peroxide into water. Tumor cells do not have enough of this enzyme, making them susceptible to damage by hydrogen peroxide. (1)

Most of the research available on this mechanism has been done in cell models, and more evidence from controlled human studies are needed. Human studies have, however, provided overwhelming evidence of high dose vitamin C increasing quality of life in patients with cancer. (6,7) There is evidence that it can help with fatigue, constipation, depression, and insomnia. (1)

High dose vitamin C does not interfere with the anti-tumor effects of chemotherapeutic drugs and does not increase their toxicity. (1) There is some evidence in the literature that high dose ascorbic acid therapy may add to the efficacy of other cancer therapies. (3,4,5) It has also been demonstrated in the research that high dose vitamin C therapy can improve survival in cancer patients and also contribute to a reduction in tumor mass. (1)

Overall, the research concludes that high dose vitamin C is a safe and effective adjunctive cancer treatment. Here at Spark Health, we offer high dose vitamin C IV therapy for established patients and patients who have a recommendation for this therapy from their oncologist.

At Spark Health, we are lucky to have Dr. Aliza Cicerone, one of the only cancer oncologists in California who is also a Naturopathic Doctor. Our team at Spark has developed an integrative approach to cancer treatment. To read more, please go to

If you are interested in high dose vitamin C therapy for adjunctive cancer care, give us at a call at 858-228-4188 or email us at

Spark is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway.

Thank you,
The Spark Team


1. Fritz, et al. Intravenous Vitamin C and Cancer: A Systematic Review. Integrative Cancer Therapies 2014

2. Chen, et al. Ascorbate in pharmacologic concentrations selectively generates ascorbate radical and hydrogen peroxide in extracellular fluid in vivo. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2007; 104(21):8749-54.

3. Verrax J and Calderon PB. The Controversial place of vitamin C in cancer treatment biochemical pharmacology. 76 (2008) 1644-1652.

4. Levine, et al Vitamin C: A Concentration- Function Approach Yields Pharmacology and Therapeutic Discoveries. Advanced Nutrition: 2: 78-88, 2011.

5. Ma Y, et al. High-dose parenteral ascorbate enhanced chemrsensitivity of ovarian cancer and reduced toxicity of chemotherapy. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Feb 5;6 (222).

6. Vollbracht et al. Intravenous vitamin C administration improves quality of life in breast cancer patients during chemo-/radiotherapy and aftercare: results of a retrospective, multicentre, epidemiological cohort study in Germany. In Vivo 2011 Nov-Dec; 25(6):983-90

7. Yeom et al. Changes of terminal cancer patients’ health-related quality of life after high dose vitamin C administration. J Korean Med Sci 2007 Feb;22(1):7-11

8. Anderson, Paul S. Intravenous Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Information for Physicians and Patients. (2017)

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