If anyone has been to Las Vegas in the last few years, you may have had a friend ask if you wanted to book an IV treatment. No, they aren’t (hopefully) asking to do something illegal or dangerous. Staying up all night dancing, chatting with new friends, and having a few drinks will put a strain on your system. Clinics are popping up in popular destinations all around the country because people are starting to realize the benefits of IV therapy. These clinics offer hydration and vitamin treatments to help you recover and get back to your vacation quickly.
A hospital visit will sometimes get you an IV treatment as well, but this is also being used as a new form of longevity health. Celebrity use of this method is starting to get a lot of public attention, and for good reason. Preliminary studies are showing that some of the benefits include:
- provide stress relief
- promote anti-aging
- help aid in post-surgical recovery
- enhance your athletic performance
- strengthen your immune function to prevent illness
- speed the recovery of a cold or flu symptoms
- increase energy levels
- improve sleep quality — including issues with insomnia
- Detoxify your liver (hangover cure)
Companies have been opening around the country and are expanding so quickly that there is even a rush to hire registered nurses, physicians, and other health professionals to staff the need for this growing service. Major cities, such as Los Angeles and Miami, are boasting offices because IV therapy is in-line with their hip culture and is aligned with the people who want alternative or natural health services.
What is IV Therapy?
When you take your morning dose of vitamins, the best absorption rate you can expect is only between 50 and 60 percent. That means that up to half of the supplements are literally going to waste… out of your body in your urine. When you consider how expensive some of them are, you might get mad. But by using IV hydration methods, you will get a 90 to 100 percent absorption rate. Your fluids and electrolytes are replenished in a superior manner this way.
An infusion can take between 20 minutes and an hour and are done at a medical office under supervision of a licensed professional. By absorbing the nutrients through an IV, you are allowing them to enter the bloodstream faster than if you ingested them. Ability to absorb nutrients through your stomach depends on age, metabolism, health status, genetics, interactions with other products, and the physical and chemical makeup of the supplement or food.
People who have generally sought IV vitamin therapy are people who aren’t able to eat enough food or have an illness that interferes with nutrient absorption. Some other uses for this therapy include dehydration relief after extreme exercise of alcohol intake, boost the immune system, and increase energy levels. Most healthy people are able to get enough nutrients from a balanced diet but obviously it would take longer and need to have consistent maintenance.
What are the benefits of an IV Drip?
IV vitamin therapy works because the vitamins and nutrients are administered directly into the bloodstream and bypasses the digestive system. That’s how the absorption rate is nearly 100 percent. A booster shot is given by an intramuscular injection so there is also no gastrointestinal absorption there either.
To receive an IV drip, a small plastic catheter is put in a vein using a needle and then removed once the plastic tube is in the vein. The drips contain between 250 and 1,000 ml of fluid that has a mixture of vitamins and antioxidants. This is the fastest way to get the fluids and vitamins into your body and most efficient. It generally takes about 45 to 60 minutes to complete.
An IV push is infused into the bloodstream with a plastic catheter inserted into the vein. Then a 60-cc syringe pushes a high dose of vitamins and glutathione and a small amount of fluid hydration. This allows it to happen quickly, about 10 to 15 minutes and you still get nearly 100 percent absorption rate.
A booster shot of vitamins is the fastest way and there is no IV access required. An injection is pushed into your gluteal or deltoid muscle (butt or shoulder) and takes only 10 seconds. The dosage is much smaller because the muscles cannot handle as much volume but the absorption rate is almost as high.
Once you have an infusion, the vitamins stay in your system and the levels are maintained for two to three weeks because it is absorbed right into your bloodstream, skipping your digestive system. Even a booster shot will last about one week because that’s how many oral supplements one shot equals.
Everyone is different, so usually, the clinic will determine your needs based on your individual health. For general health and wellness, you can receive about two IV drips a month to counter any vitamin deficiencies.
If someone has advanced autoimmune diseases or cancer, they may need continuous IV therapy for nutritional support. Some people might get better and then only need monthly treatments to maintain balanced levels. Other people will need regular injections to help with a chronic condition or specific medical conditions. You can always have lab panels done in order to determine what is your best option for treatment.
Does it really work?
If you’re going to drop a couple hundred dollars on a single treatment, you want to know if it works. Professionals believe that it is a valuable option when it is provided by a medical professional and it can work for many people. Managing chronic dehydration and having healthy skin make it worth it for a lot of people. Because there are few studies available right now that have tested the effectiveness, it is hard to say definitively if it is beneficial for serious or chronic conditions.
There may be a placebo effect with this therapy. Refresher: the placebo effect is basically a mental “trick” where you think you are feeling better even if the medicine has not worked yet. Sometimes that is ok if there is no risk – if you feel better, awesome! Who cares how it happens? Eating a nutritious diet and getting enough exercise can help with your energy but most folks who seek this treatment are looking to supplement their hard work.
What is in the IV drip?
The most common ingredients found in an IV drip are vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, and calcium. There are also drips that include amino acids and antioxidants, such as glutathione. Anyone trying to build some muscle knows the benefits of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. There are no limits to which vitamins and nutrients can be given but the best ones are those that are natural to your body and can be measured with levels to ensure that the infusion is given at a healthy dose.
Some contain just a single vitamin, like C, or could be a “cocktail” of vitamins and minerals. Some specialists do not recommend IV vitamin therapy though unless there’s a medically-diagnoses reason for the infusion and was prescribed based on your individual diagnosis and body composition.
Who is this therapy right for? (what kind of people will benefit from IV Therapy)
This might seem like a therapy for party guys who spend their weekend pumping fists in the club. The focus might be on them right now but there are benefits that pretty much everyone can get, such as:
- Athletes – Recovering from intense training is what helps you do more intense training and get faster, bigger, stronger. By replacing your electrolytes and getting B vitamin doses, your energy will return and dehydration disappears. Amino acids, electrolytes, and other vitamins enhance endurance and recovery that does it without energy drinks, pills, shakes and the unwanted side effects of the additives in them. It can also flush out the lactic acid. These are good pre- or post-workout/event.
- Runners/endurance sports – Marathons are grueling. Any event that ends in “-thon” is going to take it out of you. Specialized drips can give you expanded immune support, helps detox, and keeps you energized and refreshed. There are also hydration and antioxidant agents included. Be warned, though – some events, leagues, and sports do not allow IV therapy because it can “alter” your performance so be sure to check before you partake. While it’s not the same as “blood doping” you don’t want to take chances.
- Men in their 30s – You’re still likely to be burning the candle at both ends faster than you can even get more candles. Between work and play, an IV therapy boost will help keep you going and able to maintain all the things you are doing while looking and feeling great.
- Men in their 40s – Energy levels are probably your main concern right now. If you just had a *little* more oomph you could get more done at work, exercise every day, play with the kids, and solve the world’s problems. If you can find a couple hours every month to get an IV therapy, there is no doubt you will be Superman. And, let’s face it, if you have a couple more beers than you meant to, it won’t take you three days to recover.
- Men in their 50s and 60s – Retirement is so close you can taste it. If you have been dreaming of traveling and taking up your hobbies full time, you want to have the energy and strength to do it. A general infusion, like the Myers Cocktail, works to reduce inflammation, muscle pain, fatigue, and stress. It has made patients feel more energized for long periods of time.
- Men in their 70s and beyond – Post surgery recovery is important at any age but can be especially critical now. High doses of vitamin C and antioxidants will help your tissue repair and wounds to heal. Bodies undergo a lot of stress and increase in cellular growth to repair after surgery. That same stress can contribute to infections, decreased energy, and a weakened immune system.
- People who are hungover – It’s ok to be honest and admit that while most of these benefits are great and completely good for you, you’re here for the hangover relief. There are mobile clinics that go to concert and events to provide this service. With a hangover therapy, you get hydration, high dose of vitamins, antioxidants, and micronutrients. Help your liver detox and get that energy back.
How much does IV Therapy cost?
Do you make weekly or monthly trips to supplement and vitamin shops? You probably don’t walk out of there for under 50 bucks on a good day and if you aren’t buying your protein powder.
That said, IV therapy is not cheap per session. Depending on the clinic and combination of vitamins, it’s probably going to run between $75 and $200 for one treatment. If that feels like too much, consider this – your body only absorbs about half of the vitamins and nutrients that you take orally. Take half the money you are spending now and flush it down toilet. Literally, that’s where it goes, out of your body through your urine. The money you spend on IV therapy is completely utilized the way you want it to.
History of intravenous technology and current relevance
Blood therapy has been around as early as ancient times. Bloodletting and leeches were used to remove illness from sick people. They also thought drinking blood and bathing in it would heal illness and rejuvenate life. Then the first attempts at IV therapy started in the early 17th century but it wasn’t developed enough and poor results and complications resulted in the abandonment of the practice.
When the cholera epidemic began in the 19th century IV therapy was revisited because the main cause of death was dehydration. Only the most critical patients received the therapy though due to access complications and sepsis would develop.
Blood groups were discovered in the 20th century and blood typing was able to be used. Pyrogens, or infectious agents, were also discovered and together these discoveries allowed IV therapy to be a treatment during WWI and WWII. When plastic bags and plastic IV catheters were invented in the late 20th century and modern infection control practices were devised, IV therapy has now become a practical, beneficial, lifesaving treatment.
Medically, there are three types of IV therapy. It is used to provide fluids, to give drugs, or to administer blood products. For example, let’s say Dave is in a car accident and has to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. The paramedics will put an IV catheter in his arm and hang an IV solution bag to keep him hydrated and replace any lost blood volume. At the emergency department, the nurse injects pain medication into the IV because he is in a great deal of pain.
This is an IV push. When the doctor examines Dave, she prescribes an antibiotic to prevent serious infections from his accident wounds. The drug is diluted in a bag of fluid and attached to the existing IV tubes and slowly administered. This is known as a secondary additive, or sometimes called an IV piggy back. After Dave’s lab results return, the doctor sees that he has lost too much blood and his red blood cell count is low, so she orders a blood transfusion.
Modern versions of this therapy were derived from the work of Dr. John Myers and he developed what became known as the “Myers Cocktail.” The exact formula of the cocktail is not exactly clear because Myers did not publish any written material on the treatment and patients were not able to provide complete information. The best estimates believe Myers used a 10-mL syringe and administered a slow IV push of a combination of magnesium chloride, calcium gluconate, thiamine, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, and dilute hydrochloric acid.
Myers’s patients received monthly, weekly, or twice weekly injections for up to 25 years to treat chronic issues such as fatigue, depression, chest pain, and palpitations. Symptoms were controlled but would recur if too much time elapsed between injections. A modified version commonly used now contains magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin C. This combination has been effective in treating acute asthma attacks, migraines, fatigue (chronic fatigue syndrome), fibromyalgia, acute muscle spasm, upper respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, seasonal allergic rhinitis, cardiovascular disease, and other things. With this list, you can see how it is a draw for so many people to relieve so many different symptoms.
What kinds of other therapies and supplements does this stack up well with?
If you are still reading, you may be interested enough to contact a local clinic or even book one at a vacation destination. While it can be a great stand-alone treatment, here are some other options for “alternative therapies” to use in conjunction with your IV therapy:
- If you’re an athlete use it in conjunction with infrared sauna. It uses infrared heaters to emit infrared light which is treated as radiant heat and absorbed by the skin. It is thought to help with arthritis, release toxins, and increase energy expenditure and weight loss.
- If you’re in your 40s and starting to feel like you are stiff and sore more than usual, use it in conjunction with hydrotherapy. This is also known as water therapy and can be saunas, steam baths, foot baths, contrast therapy, hot and cold showers. Cold water will cause superficial blood vessels to constrict and move blood flow away from the surface to organs. Hot water will cause superficial blood vessels to dilate, activate your sweat glands, and remove waste from your body tissue.
- If you’re in your 50s and starting to feel muscle tightness, decrease in restful sleep, increase in general pain, and increase of stress and anxiety, use it in conjunction with deprivation chambers. They are also called sensory deprivation chambers, and are filled with Epsom salt and water heated to skin temperature. All external stimulation is cut off while inside the tank, including light, sound, and even gravity.
Growing fame as a hangover cure therapy, but useful for everyone
Anytime you show beautiful people having fun in Las Vegas or at Coachella, you are going to get a larger reaction and more attention than Joe Athlete coming in for a maintenance drip. The hangover “cure” therapy is certainly beneficial and a big draw, but don’t forget that there are very real benefits for your every-day life. Who among us isn’t tired, a little sore, feels a little cold coming on, and wants to just look fresher?
Most of the symptoms that come with life and aging can be relieved at some level with an IV therapy treatment. If you find yourself sleeping better, being more relaxed, and able to train harder and more frequently, you are likely to stick with the treatments. You don’t need to be a singer, celebrity, or in a constant party mode in order to benefit. Most who seek IV treatment are regular people who just need a boost.
IV Therapy as a celebrity favorite
Adele. Rihanna. Chrissy Teigen and John Legend. Jane Fonda. Famous people are big influencers on trends and IV therapy is no different. In order to perform eight shows in Los Angeles, Adele received the “Limitless” therapy from a clinic. It is pricey at $220 but is popular with singers because the antioxidants prevent bacteria and polyps from building up and developing on the vocal cords.
Grueling travel and performance schedules drive artists into IV therapy clinics to help with immunity, dehydration, fatigue, and stress.
The future of recovery therapy for amateur athletes
Even though they eat properly and take supplements, athletes depend on those vitamins and nutrients to be absorbed and digested. This can take time to happen and if you have a digestive condition you may not absorb as many nutrients as you need. Athletes also put their bodies in high states of stress so they need even more vitamins than average. The amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in an IV therapy are absorbed faster so cells and tissue can repair and build quickly.
This is not the same as blood doping and does not use any kind of drugs. Treatments generally include B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin C, and amino acids. These help with a variety of issues such as cellular and mitochondrial energy production, relaxation of muscles to prevent spasms and strains, immune support and wound repair, strengthen collagen, muscle growth and repair, and stress reduction.
Heavy exercise, like endurance training, puts oxidative stress on the cells and creates metabolic byproducts that have to be eliminated by the liver and other organs. The treatments given in IV therapy increase the speed with which these processes happen and allow athletes to continue training in a safe and healthy manner.
While there are few studies that have been published thus far that have tested the effectiveness of IV vitamin therapy, it can be a valuable treatment when provided by a medical professional.
For most who receive the treatment, the management of chronic dehydration and the healthy skin benefits alone are worth it for the boost in quality of life. As it becomes more popular and garners more attention, more research and testing will be done to validate the benefits.
If you are looking for relief from a chronic condition or if you just stayed up too late enjoying the night life with your friends, IV vitamin therapy can be a great option for you. The cost per session can be limiting for some, but if you weight the pros and cons of whatever you are trying to relieve versus your wallet, you may find that the financial cost is less than the health improvements.
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