Everyone has days when they feel sluggish and slow, as if your brain has fogged over. To get past the slump, some people caffeinate, some medicate and some hydrate while hooked up to an IV. An IV? It may sound a little extreme, but obtaining saline, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants intravenously is growing in popularity across the U.S.
The wellness practice is called IV vitamin therapy, and you’ve likely heard it touted as an instant hangover remedy. Indeed, it’s great for hydration. But it has many more applications, according to Shannon Haas, nutritionist and director of operations for Alive + Well, a health and wellness compound based in Austin, Texas.
“Only about 5 percent of our customers want the hangover help IV drip,” she says.
Alive + Well’s Drip Drop IV Vitamin Bar menu features eight customized combination IV options that aim to strengthen the immune system, enhance libido, speed up metabolism, flush toxins from the body, reduce inflammation and more. Before you embrace this new wellness trend, arm yourself with the facts about IV vitamin therapy.
What is IV vitamin therapy?
IV vitamin therapy is a method of delivering vitamins directly to the bloodstream. You may be wondering how it differs from swallowing an over-the-counter multivitamin or a supplement.
Haas says the benefit of getting vitamins through an IV is that they enter the bloodstream immediately, bypassing the liver and gut. She says that when many people swallow a vitamin, it doesn’t absorb in their digestive tract well.
“You’re making all these vital nutrients quickly and readily available to the tissues, cells and brain,” she says, “so they’re not broken down, and you’re getting them at their maximum potential. We call them happy cells.”
What can you expect with IV vitamin therapy?
First-time customers typically fill out a medical questionnaire and sign a consent form prior to getting hooked up. Products and procedures vary by facility. At Alive + Well, IV bags are mixed and filled on-site in a sterile lab, and a list of the contents of each bag is made available to customers. Registered nurses administer the IVs and are overseen by a practicing physician.
Hass explains that some facilities order prepackaged IV bags and have phlebotomists insert IVs. If you’re considering IV vitamin therapy, call the business first to ask about medical oversight, staff credentials and what’s in the IV bags.
Customer experience also varies. Some businesses are in strip malls and have a clinical feel, while others have a spa-like atmosphere and offer private rooms where people can relax during their service.
“We have people who come in for personal self-care, rest and relaxation. Others may bring a friend and share the experience. We get a lot of couples who want to try it together, as well,” Haas says.
The benefits of vitamin IV therapy last five to seven days, Hass says, adding that regular customers come in two to three times per month.
What are the benefits of IV vitamin therapy?
Haas says the nursing staff at Alive + Well stops short of proclaiming the drips treat disease or cure specific health conditions. “We share with people that it’s supportive overall and is a beneficial component of wellness,” she says.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved IV vitamin therapy as a treatment for any disease. The safety and effectiveness of vitamin infusions haven’t been studied in robust clinical trials.
Haas says people seek out IV vitamin therapy for a variety of reasons, including improving athletic performance, help with recovering from an illness or injury or managing weight. She adds that many people report feeling more energized and hydrated after an infusion. “Some say they sleep better and it improves their mood,” commented Haas.
How much does IV vitamin therapy cost?
IV vitamin therapy isn’t covered by insurance, and it’s not exactly inexpensive. Before making an appointment, ask about the cost. Alive + Well offers discount pricing with the purchase of a $50 monthly membership. IVs range from $130 to $192 for members. Nonmembers pay $130 to $240 for the service.
Before you try IV vitamin therapy, know this:
As with any procedure, there are risks to having an IV inserted. It’s possible to get an infection and to overdose on vitamins. Haas says both are unlikely with sterility practices and control over the dosage in each bag.
In extreme cases, hypervitaminosis A and D can result from ingesting too many A or D vitamins over a short period of time. Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include vision and skin changes and bone pain. Constipation, decreased appetite, dehydration, fatigue, vomiting and high blood pressure can occur in cases of vitamin D toxicity.
“We haven’t seen anyone overdo it because we know our dosing well,” she says, adding that it’s not advisable to have IV vitamin therapy more than twice a week.
IV vitamin therapy may not be right for everyone. Haas says pregnant women and people with cancer will need a referral from a physician. Those with high blood pressure should not get an IV vitamin drip.
“If you go to a reputable business, IV vitamin therapy is a safe, sterile experience. The staff can help you determine the best IV combination for you based on your wellness needs,” Haas says.