Intravenous vitamin drip provides a custom-made health boost

Bernie Safire, Sid Dinow and Susan Winship relax while they receive their vitamin drip treatment at the Malibu Hyperbaric Medical Center. Photo by Stephanie Chaisson /TMT

While the word “cocktail” may bring to mind an alcoholic drink on the rocks, a local doctor is promoting a much healthier version. The intravenous micronutrient therapy (IVMT) drip cocktail provides a sustainable boost to general health with a high dosage of vitamins and minerals.

As the medical director of the Malibu Hyperbaric Medical Center, Dr. Ralph Potkin cites numerous benefits of IVMT, including treatment of chronic illnesses like diabetes, Parkinson’s or cancer. Other conditions aided by IVMT are post-surgical recovery, stress management and nutritional supplementation.

First offered 40 years ago as an alternative treatment known as the Myers’ Cocktail, named after Maryland doctor John Myers and his injections, IVMT includes high doses of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and iron. The recipe has changed since it was first created, but the goal is the same.

“In the last 10 years or so, it’s gotten to be widely accepted,” Potkin said, explaining the treatment isn’t just a passing fad. “It’s tailor-made to the individual for each problem. You treat patients with oxygen therapy for a variety of conditions, and you combine the two treatment modalities.”

Six months ago, naturopathic doctor Stephen Danielsen joined Potkin’s team in Malibu, in addition to his primary employment at Lakeview Natural Health Center in Thousand Oaks. He is an advocate of IVMT because, he said, it is a more efficient way to directly administer high doses of immunity-boosting vitamins directly to the bloodstream.

“A lot of the things you take orally are limited by how much your stomach can handle without getting diarrhea or an upset tummy, or something like that,” Danielsen said. “So we can really up the dosage to a nutraceutical dose so when we do it intravenously, everything in the bag gets into the body because we’re going directly into the bloodstream.”

Danielsen added: “It’s a great idea to do oral supplements, too For myself, I really believe in wellness. I try to personally treat myself that way and I do as much as I can to stay as healthy as possible. For naturopaths we’re all about prevention, so a wellness model is really important to us.”

Malibu resident Sid Dinow received the IV from Danielsen after he heard of intravenous nutrient therapy from his children, who received the treatment in Santa Monica. He decided to give it a try for himself, and now he has IVMT almost every week. Dinow met Potkin four years ago through acupuncture therapy, and now they are partners in business.

“[My children] started feeling bad, they were getting colds or run down, they would go and then they started going regularly,” Dinow said. “I really liked it and I feel good afterward, really calm.”

The calmness is a result of magnesium, Danielsen said. Magnesium deficiency is a component of chronic fatigue, he explained, and can be treated with intravenous supplementation. Magnesium, a basa dilator that increases blood flow, provides a muscle-relaxing and nerve-calming affect at the dosage of up to 3,000 milligrams, or more than six times the usual amount in oral supplements.

Vitamin C is also provided in much higher doses than the typical variety found in stores. Patients generally start taking 10,000 milligrams and work up to 60 grams. Vitamin C is a natural antibiotic and antiviral and antidote for toxins.

“I think [doctors] should provide everything at their disposal to treat patients,” Potkin said.

Other common visitors to the Malibu Hyperbaric Center are local scuba divers suffering from decompression sickness, more commonly known as “the bends.” The condition results from ascending to the surface too quickly. The hyperbaric treatment is often used back-to-back with IVMT.

More information about the Malibu Hyperbaric Medical Center can be obtained online at or by calling 310.317.9797.