Article at a Glance
- IV therapy provides high doses of essential vitamins.
- Intravenous injections provide higher absorption rates than oral supplements.
- Johns Hopkins doctor John Myers began administering high doses of vitamins in the 1980s.
Over the past few years, IV therapy, which injects vitamins directly, has become more and more popular. The therapy’s rise in popularity was perhaps due to its use by celebrities, including Adele, John Legend, and Rihanna. Now, many others have sought out the therapy program for the numerous health benefits it can offer.
When used legitimately, IV therapy could be quite useful. Unfortunately, as the popularity of IV drip therapy has increased, so too has the number of clinicians with little to no medical background offering these services. If you wish to utilize IV therapy, it’s imperative that you research the clinic you’re using beforehand. Below, you’ll find a brief overview of what IV therapy is, along with the benefits and potential risks of IV therapy.
What Is IV Therapy?
When you take your morning dose of vitamins, the best absorption rate you can expect is only between 50-60%. That means that up to half of the supplements are literally going to waste, as in right out of your body via your urine. This is frustrating considering supplements are often pricey. IV hydration methods, on the other hand, have a 90-100% absorption rate.
An infusion can take 20 minutes to an hour and is done at a medical office under the 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.
In the past, those who sought IV vitamin therapy were people who aren’t able to eat enough food or have an illness that interferes with nutrient absorption. Newer uses for this therapy include dehydration relief after extreme exercise or alcohol intake, a boost for the immune system, and an increase in energy levels. Most healthy people can get enough nutrients from a balanced diet, but that takes longer and requires consistent maintenance.
What Are the Benefits of an IV Drip?
IV drip therapy could offer many health benefits. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much research focused on IV therapy explicitly, with many studies being anecdotal. However, there is significant evidence supporting the potential health benefits of high doses of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids for middle-aged adults, especially when injected directly. The absorption rates of oral supplements are minimal, especially when compared to the absorption rates of direct injections.
To receive an IV drip, you will get a needle injected into your vein that’s connected to a tube attached to a bag full of vitamins. The drips contain fluid that may have a mixture of vitamins and antioxidants. It generally takes about 45 to 60 minutes to complete.
An intramuscular injection (shot) of vitamins is the fastest way to receive vitamins and there is no IV access required. An intramuscular injection is pushed into your gluteal or deltoid muscle 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 as an IV drip.
Everyone is different, so usually, the clinic will determine your needs based on your individual health.
Why Not Just Take Vitamins Orally?
Statistics show that nearly half of men and women over the age of 50 use an oral multivitamin supplement, with sales approaching $11 billion annually [R]. When you take a vitamin supplement, it must disintegrate entirely within 20 minutes of ingestion for you to receive its full benefits. Otherwise, the vitamin goes to waste.
One study analyzed supplements on the Canadian market to find if they absorbed as quickly as the label indicated [R]. The study hinted at false advertising, saying that many manufacturers used terms and statements to “add pseudoscientific and unjustified value to the product.” It concluded that “today’s customers cannot assume that the product they buy will have an acceptable quality with regard to the disintegration behaviour.”
Furthermore, the American Food and Drug Administration does not regulate vitamin supplements. And, the absorption rates of oral supplements is quite low. For instance, if you take a calcium supplement, your body’s digestive system absorbs 20-30% of the pill. You will urinate out whatever your body does not absorb, meaning that you’re wasting money on supplements.
Similarly, studies have found that the body absorbs roughly half of an oral vitamin B12 supplement. The study also found that the absorption rates decrease when the dose of the vitamin is higher. It’s reasonable to conclude that injecting high-dose vitamins into your bloodstream via IV therapy is the most efficient way for your body to absorb B complex and other essential vitamins [R].
Does It Really Work?
If you’re going to drop a couple hundred dollars on a single therapy session, you want to know if it works. Because there are few studies available right now that have tested the effectiveness, it is hard to definitively say 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.
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. If you’re familiar with how to build muscle, you may know the benefits of amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
There are no limits to which vitamins and nutrients can be administered, but the best ones are those that can be measured with levels to ensure that the infusion is delivered at a healthy dose.
Who Can Benefit From IV Therapy?
IV therapy could help people from different backgrounds, including:
Recovering from intense training is what helps you do even more intense training and get faster, bigger, stronger. By replacing your electrolytes and getting B vitamin doses, your energy could return, and dehydration disappears. Amino acids, electrolytes, and other vitamins can enhance endurance, and this recovery does it without energy drinks, pills, shakes, and the unwanted side effects of the additives in many of them. It can also flush out lactic acid, making the therapy a good option pre- or post-workout or event.
Marathons are grueling. 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.
People in Their 30s
In your 30s, you’re likely to be burning the candle at both ends faster than you can even get more candles. Between work and play, IV therapy could provide you with the energy boost you need to maintain all the things you are doing while looking and feeling great.
It’s also OK to be honest and admit that you’re most curious about IV therapy for hangover relief. There are mobile clinics that go to concerts and events to provide this service. With IV hangover therapy, you get hydration, a high dose of vitamins, antioxidants, and micronutrients so you can help your liver detox and get your energy back.
People 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.
People 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 dosage of vitamins works to reduce inflammation, muscle pain, fatigue, and stress.
How Much Does the IV Therapy Cost?
IV therapy is not inexpensive. Depending on the clinic and combination of vitamins, it’s probably going to run between $75 and $200 for one therapy session. If that feels like too much, consider this—your body only absorbs about half of the vitamins and nutrients that you take orally, meaning you waste your hard-earned money. The money you spend on IV therapy is completely utilized the way you want.
Types of IV Therapy
Modern IV therapy was derived from the work of Dr. John Myers, who 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 therapy and patients were not able to provide complete information. The best estimates believe Myers 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 [R].
A modified version commonly used now contains magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin C. This combination has been effective in treating migraines, fatigue, fibromyalgia, acute muscle spasm, upper respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, seasonal allergic rhinitis, cardiovascular disease, and other things.
Not Just a Hangover Cure
You may have heard of IV therapy being used as a hangover “cure,” but there are also very real benefits for your everyday life.
If you find yourself sleeping better, being more relaxed, and able to train harder and more frequently, you are likely to stick with the therapy program. You don’t need to be a singer, celebrity, or in a constant party mode in order to benefit. Most who seek IV therapy are regular people who just need a boost.
Research Your Doctors Before IV Therapy
When searching for IV therapy, it’s imperative that you research the clinic you wish to use. Some clinics make fraudulent claims about IV therapy, providing medical advice that they are not authorized to use. Over the past couple of months, the Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on business owners’ administration of IV therapy without proper licensing [R]. Make sure you find a provider with an experienced medical background who you trust to administer your intravenous therapy.
While few studies have been published thus far that have tested the effectiveness of IV vitamin therapy, it can be a valuable therapy when provided by a medical professional. As it becomes more popular and garners more attention, more research and testing will likely 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 nightlife with your friends, IV vitamin therapy can be an excellent option for you.
Visiting knowledgeable doctors will significantly increase the likelihood that your intravenous therapy is successful. At Prime, we’ve made it easy for you to get started and find the therapy program that’s right for you.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. Information is provided for educational purposes. You should consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website.