You've heard the term "Myers' Cocktail" for the better part of your adult life. It's said to be anything from a complete waste of time and money to a magic mixture of medicines in an IV bag that can cure whatever ails you.
So, before we can talk about the pros and cons of the treatment, it's important to know what's in it. What's the "recipe" for a Myers' Cocktail and what are the "ingredients" in it intended to do?
Well, it may shock you to know that nobody knows exactly. That's right. John Myers, M.D., the doctor who initially "created" the concoction that became known as the Myers' Cocktail never bothered to write down his recipe. As a matter of fact, while giving the treatment at Johns Hopkins (world-famous hospital in Baltimore, Maryland where my Grandpa was actually Chief of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery) Myers never even named it. His colleague Dr. Alan Gaby attempted to recreate the formulae after Myers passed away, and named it "Myers' Cocktail" as a tribute. Even the guy who named it doesn't know what Myers put in it. It's assumed he often changed the additives and concentrations based on what was available, and what a specific patient may need. There's no set rule about what can be called a Myers' Cocktail, what you have to put in it, or what you can add to the common mixture.
Seems crazy doesn't it? If you order a "bourbon and Coke" you know you're getting bourbon, and Coke. If you ask for a Myers' Cocktail the only way you're going to know what's in it is if you ask for the specifics, and two places sharing the same parking lot may have two wildly different "recipes".
In MOST Myers' Cocktails you see marketed by IV centers in The United States, you'll find a few main ingredients:
* B-complex vitamins
* Vitamin C
* Magnesium Chloride (or magnesium sulfate)
* Calcium gluconate
So, why IV, and why those ingredients? For starters, you probably know by now that anything you take IV is immediately "bioavailable", meaning your body starts using it/reacting to it immediately. Anything that you consume orally is going to take time to get through your system to the point that your actual cells and organs can make use of it. Worse, the majority of what you consume orally is not absorbed, it's passed and is never put to use. Elsewhere on our site is an entire article about bioavailability of IV vitamins versus oral consumption, and it's worth a read if this one doesn't put you to sleep.
How about those ingredients? Why them?
*B-complex vitamins: These are a bit of a "trick" in my opinion. Very few people in the developed world suffer from B vitamin deficiencies. Usually this is restricted to those on extreme diets, or people who have had gastric sleeve or bypass surgery. Though B-complex can do wonders for people with chronic anemia and other "failure to thrive" issues, for the bulk of us, it's simply a "pick me up". You'll get a boost similar to several cups of coffee, or one of those nasty energy drinks. You aren't deficient in any of the B vitamins in all likelihood, but you will feel a little extra pep in your step. It's strictly conjecture on my part, but I feel like putting this in when it's not necessary had to be part of a plan to have people say "I did Dr. Myers' magic IV and I felt like a million bucks when it was over". Of course you did, because you got a stimulant. IF that's what you're looking for, great, but don't be fooled that all the little vitamins and minerals have suddenly made you "extra healthy". You're feeling great because you just got injected with Go Juice.
*Vitamin C: This is the ingredient that is the reason so many people with various forms of arthritis or fibromyalgia swear by the Myers' Cocktail. Vitamin C is a fantastic anti-inflammatory. Much of what causes pain in joints and soft tissues can be traced back to inflammation. So, while they're getting a little energy from the B-complex, the Vitamin C is working to reduce the inflammation in their joints and soft tissues. Some IV places will put a dose of Toradol (or the generic form called Ketorolac), which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory like Advil, in with the Vitamin C to give temporary pain relief to give the more intermediate term anti-inflammatory Vitamin C time to work. That's sort of cheating, but if it works to relieve the pain of the patient, more power to them.
*Magnesium: Usually this is Magnesium Chloride, though it's sometimes Magnesium Sulfate, which is generally less expensive and more readily available. Mag Chloride is really only distributed by one producer in the U.S. and it can get tricky to acquire. That aside, the magnesium (in any form) is included because it's a fairly strong natural muscle relaxant. It certainly helps with pain, and just as importantly lets the Vitamin C work its way into the areas it need to be to reduce inflammation.
*Calcium gluconate: Oddly, calcium gluconate is a compound that is used to treat magnesium poisoning in the blood, so there's some thought that maybe this was included as a precaution. The better guess is that because many of the people who have poor enough dietary habits to need additional magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin C, also lack calcium in their diet, this was included to reverse the effects of hypocalcemia. Many conditions like Rickets and osteoarthritis are amplified when osteoporosis sets in as a consequence of low calcium intake.
So there is your list of the common ingredients in a Myers' Cocktail. Increasingly today you'll see other things added as well. #Glutathione is becoming widely used, even though the powerful antioxidant hadn't even been isolated and produced before Myers' death. Glutathione is great for liver health, cellular restoration, and several other things, but it wasn't part of the original concoction for those suffering from various inflammatory/degenerative conditions. Putting peaches and raisins in Grandma's apple pie recipe might taste great, but then it isn't really Grandma's apple pie is it?
Zinc, known to shorten the duration of respiratory illnesses, is also become a frequent addition to the Myers'.
At #RapidRecovery we have an IV package that includes everything in a Myers' Cocktail, and much more, but we rightly don't call it a Myers' Cocktail. It's called a #Lagniappe. We have a Myers' Cocktail which is as close to Dr. Gaby's recipe as we can get it, and we call it a Myers' Cocktail. Others call just about anything with those main four ingredients a Myers'. We bring this up to point out that you REALLY need to look at the list of ingredients in a facility's Myers' Cocktail before you get infused with it. They aren't all the same.
So, what is a Myers' Cocktail really good for, and when is it a waste of time?
First shot out of the box, let's talk about the elephant in the room. Cancer. If anyone tells you that a Myers' Cocktail regimen can cure cancer, they're either telling you what they think is true and they're simply completely deluded, or they're lying to you. I read once a week that there's some IV that can cure cancer. Pardon my language, but that's bullshit. To be completely honest, we love helping people, but we aren't running a charity. If there were an IV that cured cancer we'd be lining people up at the door, selling it by the pallet, and buying vacation homes. Some places do put glutathione in their Myers', and there have been studies (though I can't speak to their methods or scientific rigor) that have shown some success keeping tumors from growing with glutathione, but that doesn't mean that getting a tiny amount of it every other week in a Myers' Cocktail is going to cure cancer.
I'm a big fan of the Myers for people with arthritis, whether it's rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or otherwise. The calcium obviously helps with bone health. The Vitamin C is great for slowing the inflammation that comes with arthritis (remember, "itis" means, in essence, swelling). The magnesium is a muscle relaxant that enhances the efficacy of the C, and provides a natural pain-relieving factor by relieving muscle tension. The B-complex gives a nice boost.
Similarly, all the anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties of a Myers' make it a winner for people with asthma. Lessening inflammation in the lungs, and relaxing the airway are winners for those folks. If you have asthma you know what we're talking about.
A Myers is also great for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, colds, and other similar conditions. It's not going to keep you from aging, and it's not going to cure your cancer. It's a great treatment for those who have very specific issues but you can't come in to Rapid Recovery as a 67 year old with cancer, get a Myers' Cocktail, and walk out like a 52 year old who's in remission.