Intravenous Vitamin C – the cocktail

Dr. Lemmo is considered a leading expert on the use of intravenous vitamin C (i.e. ascorbic acid, ascorbate) and cancer.  He has given tens of thousands of infusions of vitamin C-based treatments to people with cancer beginning in 1999.  As a consequence, he has pioneered a unique and customized approach that may differ from other physicians, which Dr. Lemmo has found to optimally help his patients with cancer, live stronger, support and harness the immune system, and improve the quality in their lives.

Dr. Lemmo has discovered that the classic high dose-model of administering vitamin C-based treatments is not typically needed and may in fact be detrimental or harmful for some.  Of course there may be some exceptions. Earlier in his career,  Dr Lemmo was using doses upwards to 150,000mg or 150 grams of vitamin C in select patients.  However, he had also found that higher-dose treatments can place the body in an increased state of stress and actually further exhaust the body over time –  more is not necessarily better for every patient or cancer case.  It is important to customize the therapy whenever possible. Other physicians who have been using vitamin C-based treatments in people with cancer over time are also noticing a similar trend.  Experience can be crucial in this area.

Dr. Lemmo’s work has been discussed throughout North America, bringing him to Arizona in February 2012, where he was invited to speak on the subject at the inaugural Naturopathic Oncology Conference.  Lectures in this area has continued at the 45th Annual International Conference – Orthomolecular Medicine Today in Vancouver in 2016 and more recently in 2018 at the International College of Integrative Medicine – “An Orthomolecular Approach to Cancer” in Minneapolis. His ongoing work has begun to influence the model on how intravenous vitamin C-based treatments are used in cancer.

While the more standard oncology community feels that such treatments should not be combined with either chemotherapy/other targeted drugs or even radiation, a growing body of data is showing that this recommendation is incorrect.  Dr. Lemmo’s experience demonstrates that a combination approach allows for a “synergistic-effect” to, for example, enhance chemotherapy while at the same time protecting the body (i.e. decrease negative side-effects).  Similar clinical observations have been seen with targeted therapies as well including the newer immune-system targeted agents known as check point inhibitors (i.e. Keytruda, Optivo, etc.). Case after case is demonstrating how the effectiveness and tolerance of chemotherapy can be improved when taken together with intravenous vitamin C treatment.  Radiation is showing a similar trend, however the data is much more preliminary or experimental at this time.

Dr Lemmo believes that the greatest benefit of vitamin C lies in its combination with conventional treatment or other therapies versus using each one on its own.  Those oncologists who are may be considered more open-minded have supported this trend have referred patients to our centre for this approach when needed or when asked.

Cancer cells respond very differently to intravenous vitamin C than when compared to the body’s normal cells.  For example, a cancer cell makes a rather rapid and sustained increase in hydrogen peroxide in response to vitamin C which results in a “rusting-effect” known as oxidative damage (i.e. this is how some of the more classic chemotherapy agents work to kill cancer along with radiation therapy).  Normal or healthy cells do not respond this way with vitamin C. This phenomenon makes intravenous vitamin C a very unique and targeted treatment unlike any other chemotherapy-like medicine.

It is important that each intravenous treatment be tailored to the individual patient and particular situation.  Protocols are adjusted based on how the patient is feeling, the type of cancer(s), conventional treatments they are receiving, and what is financially feasible over time as well.  Supportive ingredients alongside the vitamin C appears to assist in enhancing the effectiveness of the treatment which includes supporting and harnessing the immune-system (i.e. immuno-oncology).

Typically, a person could receive 2-3 treatments per week and the duration depends on how a patient responds and tolerates the treatment.  In the beginning, it is advised that a person try a treatment cycle for at least 8 weeks to help assess the potential benefit of treatment.  Doses are started low and gradually increased to better customize a person’s individual tolerance.

Similar to a treating medical oncologist, there may be a need to adjust or change a treatment protocol at any time.  We have many, many protocols to use in cancer care, and the art of medicine is to determine which one(s) works best for you.


Basic Facts Why Intravenous vs. Oral Vitamin C is Key in the treatment of Cancer:

  • Vitamin C levels in the body are tightly controlled by the bowels and the kidney’s (i.e. the body gets rid of it quickly)
  • Even by taking up to 18000mg per day orally in divided doses throughout the day, the blood levels do not change and do not exceed 0.2 mMol/L
  • Intravenous vitamin C bypasses the tight control by the body leading to a 70-fold higher blood levels with only a 2000mg injection
  • A simple injection of 5000mg of vitamin C produces a blood value of 3mMol/L and the research has shown that you can kill most cancer cells in the laboratory with values between 0.5 to 3mMol/L


How Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC) may work in killing cancer (chemotherapeutic action):

  • Increased production of hydrogen peroxide production (pro-oxidant)
  • Anti-angiogenesis (stop the blood supply that feeds cancer)
  • Immune system support (interferon, interleukin, etc.)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Stromal Support
  • And many, many, many other ways


Safety of Intravenous Vitamin C:

A 2010 study evaluating the use of vitamin C amongst practitioners revealed, after calculating over 750,000 yearly sales and estimated yearly doses of over 350,000 in 2008, and after evaluating over 9000 patients,  only minor side-effects were noted that  included lethargy/fatigue, change in mental status, and vein irriation.  Clinically, if these effects occur they are temporary and easily corrected.

Padayatty SJ et a. Vitamin C: intravenous use by complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and adverse effects.  PLoS One. 2010 Jul 7;5(7):e11414.



The negative side effects of vitamin C IV are rare.  However, there are concerns and potential side effects to be considered:

  • Although it has been reported only once in the literature (Scot Med J 1979;24:151), tumor necrosis, hemorrhage, and subsequent death after a single intravenous 10 gram dose of vitamin C should be the highest priority for safety.  This is why we always begin with a small dose.
  • Another report described acute oxalate nephropathy in a patient with bilateral ureteric obstruction and renal insufficiency who received 60 gram IVC.  Consequently, we need to ensure that your kidneys are working well enough before beginning and especially with a higher-dose infusion.
  • A rare hemolysis can occur in patients with a red cell glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) and so this may be screened in select cases.
  • Localized pain at the infusion site can occur if the infusion rate is too high or the pH too low.  This is easily corrected by either slowing the rate or adjusting the formula.
  • Vitamin C may decrease the levels of calcium, chloride, and potassium and as a consequence some patients may experience shakiness or ache.  This is treated by further adjusting the formula with those ingredients.
  • Given the amount of fluid and sodium that is used as the carrier for vitamin C, any condition which could be affected by the increased fluid load (i.e. congestive heart failure, ascites, edema, pleural effusion, etc.) needs to be monitored more closely and a tailored protocol  given accordingly.
  • IVC may be dehydrating and cause a temporary lowering of blood sugar, and so proper hydration and nourishment needs to be emphasized prior to each treatment and following
  • As with any intravenous injection, infiltration or vein irritation is always possible


Overall “Positive” Effects of Intravenous Vitamin C:

  • Correction of any possible vitamin C deficiency (i.e. fatigue, bleeding)
  • Immune-modulation (enhance or calm down)
  • Cytotoxic to cancer (chemotherapeutic potential)
  • Support white blood cells (they have 10-30x higher levels than the blood)
  • Stimulation of collagen formation (wall off tumors)
  • Inhibition of hyaluronidase (prevent cancer spread)
  • Enhanced wound healing after surgeries, biopsies
  • Enhanced benefits of chemotherapy and radiation
  • Support the bone marrow and especially the platelets
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-stress and Anti-depressant properties

*Extremely Supportive of the Entire Body While Having the Ability to Fight Cancer*