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BEST SHOT: The popularity for infusion therapy is increasing, says Evelyn Kessel, a gastroenterologist at Gastro Health Infusion Services in Fort Myers.

It’s been nearly 300 years since his death, but Englishman Sir Christopher Wren had a lot going on. When the prolific architect wasn’t busy building one of his 52 career churches, Wren studied the world as an astronomer, mathematician and physicist. He also invented the precursor to modern-day infusion therapy.

Others had previously failed. But Wren used a pig’s bladder and a writing quill and successfully pumped external substances into a dog’s bloodstream. It took another 200 years or so, but physicians also discovered that saltwater injected into the bloodstream could help fight cholera. Much has happened since in the practice of intravenous infusion therapy.

Established for several decades and increasingly popular in Southwest Florida, the process administers essential vitamins and minerals as micronutrients directly into a recipient’s bloodstream. With intravenous injection, some medications can be more efficiently absorbed than when taken orally.

Gastro Health Infusion Services in Fort Myers specializes in infusion therapy for a wide-ranging array of health issues, from anemia to rheumatoid arthritis and plaque psoriasis to ulcerative colitis. The company touts the comfort, convenience and safety of its in-office infusion centers, in which experienced registered nurses administer medications while patients listen to music or watch a movie.

“The first infusion therapy in the G.I. field for Crohn’s disease was 25 years ago, that was the first one,” says Evelyn Kessel, a gastroenterologist at Gastro Health. “We’ve had many more since then. The demand has gone up and so has the supply because there are many more treatments for different diseases.”

According to Kessel, who’s been in practice in Southwest Florida for 25 years, infusion therapy has vastly im- proved successful treatment in her specialty, as well as in many other medical areas.

“The traditional medication many of the diseases we treat, especially Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, didn’t treat patients nearly as well as the infusional therapy,” she says. “The failure rate for traditional medicine treatments was much higher then, because that’s all we had, than it is now with infusional therapy.”

During the pandemic, the use of infusion therapy had further expanded. New monoclonal antibody treatments Bamlanivimab (Bamlan) and Regeneron have been approved as treatment options for patients who have mild to moderate COVID-19 and are at high risk for progressing to severe disease and hospitalization.

Chronic pain sufferers and those affected by fatigue, sleeplessness and stress are among patients helped with infusion therapy. In combination with customized hormone treatment, infusion therapy is also commonly used to help the various effects of aging—libido issues to weight gain. Infusion therapy is also used to reduce inflammation and treat other autoimmune ininflammatory conditions and serious medical issues not effectively treated through oral medications.

Streamline Medical Group, a Naples-based company marketed as “anti-aging and rejuvenation specialists,” advertises custom-designed hormone therapy services that can help provide energy, weight loss, sleep, increased libido and more. Streamline specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, IV nutrient therapy, medical weight loss, sexual dysfunction treatment, nutraceutical imbalance therapy, GH-releasing hormones and cosmetic aging procedures.

“Infusion therapy is the best way to deliver vitamins and minerals compared to sublingual, oral and transdermal,” said Gary Brecka, human biologist and Streamline CEO. “Your body has the ability to instantaneously utilize it because it goes directly into your bloodstream.

“We have seen a tremendous surge for infusion therapies in our clinics. I believe people are awakened to the fact that their immune system is what prevents them from getting sick. It’s much better to avoid getting sick than having to take pharmaceutical drugs to get better.”

The Naples Longevity Clinic reports patients’ symptoms improve with a variety of clinical services. Among its most common treatments is the Myers’ Cocktail. It’s named after late Dr. John Myers, a Baltimore physician who introduced the broad-spectrum infusion that combines magnesium, calcium, B-vitamins (including B12) and Vitamin C. It’s used for improving overall health and wellness, and it’s also known as a “hangover helper.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy Gastro Health; Getty

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