Walk through any trendy LA neighborhood, and you’ll likely find the usual suspects: a Pilates studio, Erewhon, Lululemon, and a wellness destination complete with cryotherapy, red light therapy, an infrared sauna, and IV therapy. I get drawn in by all of the above. (I’m a wellness girl through and through.) But it wasn’t until recently that I underwent an IV therapy session after months of window shopping, doing my homework, and reading up on celebs who swear by it (read: Hailey Bieber, Kendall Jenner, and Chrissy Teigen).
Although it’s not new to the wellness scene, IV therapy has become all the rage this year thanks to A-listers and a rise in concierge IV therapy to get in on the treatment’s touted benefits (more below). Read on for the lowdown on everything IV therapy and what happened when I tested it out for myself.
What is IV therapy?
Whether you’ve seen it on Grey’s Anatomy or experienced it yourself, you’re probably already familiar with IV therapy in a hospital setting: A nurse hooks you up to a bag of fluids via a needle to administer saline or medication. IV therapy in the recreational wellness sense isn’t much different. It’s a method of infusing vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream to boost hydration, energy, immunity, or anti-aging. The wave of IV therapy as we know it today is a sought-after service served in health centers. I would describe it as “a high-end spa meets a modern doctor’s office. ”
Feeling rundown? A vitamin B-Complex (aka B12) drip might be just what you need. Have a hangover? There’s a solution (literally) to rehydrate your body and lessen symptoms. Most clinics that offer IV drip services allow you to choose from a menu of individual drip ingredients and formulated drip blends to customize your IV based on your needs. It’s much like ordering à la carte or pre-fixe at a restaurant. The most common infusions? Vitamin B-Complex (energy-boosting), vitamin C (immune defense), glutathione (the “it” antioxidant), and NAD+ (energy and repair-enhancing, AKA Hailey and Kendall’s go-to).
Whatever “cocktail” of nutrients you choose, fans of IV therapy say it revs up your body’s performance. Let’s just say it’s the latest wellness routine must-have, next to a lymphatic massage and journaling. But it comes with a hefty price tag: One drip session can set you back anywhere from over $100 to upwards of $1,000, depending on your location and the type of vitamins you receive.
What are the benefits?
Said to counteract fatigue, reduce signs of aging, and lower inflammation, it’s no wonder wellness girlies are drinking the IV therapy Kool-Aid. There are other supposed benefits of the relatively quick, albeit pricey, infusions. These include boosting the body’s natural defenses, giving your skin a youthful glow, increasing mental clarity, minimizing hangovers, and combatting jet lag.
The difference between getting vitamins through IV therapy and oral supplements is that you absorb more nutrients. “A vitamin taken by mouth gets broken down in the stomach and digestive tract and is limited on how much can be absorbed (50%),” Dena Westphalen, PharmD, a clinical pharmacist, told Healthline. “If the vitamin is given through an IV, it’s absorbed at a much higher percentage (90%).”
So you’re absorbing more nutrients—and absorbing them in less time—than if you were taking an oral supplement. “IV therapy is a more efficient way to resolve nutrient, fluid, or electrolyte deficiencies than oral supplementation,” explained Andrea Paul, MD, a physician and medical advisor for Illuminate Labs. “It may take days to resolve an electrolyte imbalance through oral supplementation, but the condition can be normalized in an hour or less with IV drip therapy.”
Are there any risks?
While the perks make IV therapy sound like a magic cure-all, take them with a grain of salt and do your research. Consult with your general practitioner about whether the service is right for you. And if you maintain a balanced, healthy diet and follow your doctor’s orders, you’re likely getting all the nutrients you need—sans needles and fancy treatments.
There isn’t hard evidence to prove the advantages of IV therapy, and it’s not FDA-approved. So, it’s especially important to get clearance from your doctor and proceed with caution if you get the green light. “The risks of IV drip therapy are not particularly high, but choosing the right provider is important,” advised Dr. Paul. “It’s important to ensure that the company or individual administering the IV drip therapy is medically credentialed because there are risks to this type of therapy (i.e., nerve damage is possible from improper administration of an IV).”
There is also the risk of more severe side effects depending on the nutrients used. “For example, magnesium is an electrolyte that’s directly involved in cardiac function,” Dr. Paul warned. “If too much magnesium were administered via IV, a patient could experience heart palpitations or cardiac arrest.” If you have kidney or heart issues or venous insufficiency, Dr. Paul said you might be advised to avoid undergoing IV therapy.
I’m someone who cringes at just the sight of needles. (I have to look away whenever I get my blood drawn.) So, I never thought I would voluntarily get poked with one. But what can I say? I’ll pretty much try anything in the name of wellness. I visited Restore Hyper Wellness to get my IV drip on and see what all the hype was about. After completing some paperwork on my medical history, I met with their in-house nurse. They took my vital signs and went over the menu of vitamin infusions.
After I virtually met with their nurse practitioner to review my medical history, I was given the thumbs up to start my IV therapy experience. I chose “The Defender,” which included glutathione, trace elements, vitamin D, lysine, vitamin C, and vitamin B-Complex. After a quick (and nearly painless) prick, I was on my way to immunity bliss. Twenty minutes into my treatment, I noticed a deep relaxation from head to toe. (The comfy set-up, complete with pillows and leg compression boots, didn’t hurt.) After an hour, my IV drip was complete.
My final verdict: I was on the tail-end of a cold when I received “The Defender.” While I didn’t notice any difference right after the session, I woke up the next day feeling renewed and energized. The brain fog and fatigue I felt less than 24 hours ago from the bug I caught? Completely gone. Although I can’t say for sure it was the drip that escorted the unwelcome symptoms away, I’d do it all over again to speed up the recovery process—placebo or not.
As for whether it’s worth a consistent spot in my wellness routine? For now, I’ll get my vitamin fix from food sources. I’ll prioritize keeping my body healthy with nutrients from food over depending on IV therapy. But if I was a celeb with all the treatments and money at my disposal? You bet I would get daily treatments, à la Hailey or Kendall. For the sake of wellness, of course.
Please consult a doctor or a mental health professional before beginning any treatments. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.
Source: Cosmo Politian