IV Hydration Therapy

Are they safe and effective?

IV Lounges, sometimes called IV Hydration Therapy, are suddenly everywhere, promising to cure your hangover, jet lag, colds, dehydration, food poisoning, congestion, general weariness and signs of aging among many other things.  Celebrities like Cindy Crawford, Adele, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and Simon Cowell are embracing them and promoting them on social media.   They have created a significant public trend.  I have many friends and acquaintances who swear by them and feel much better after an IV drip.

IV clinics administer different intravenous fluids that contain a mix of saline, vitamins and medications to treat various ailments. The vitamin therapy goes directly into the bloodstream via a needle that is inserted into a vein.  The one for a hangover, for example, often contains an anti-nausea medication. Their menu adapts to current health outbreaks and seasons.  This winter immune boosting vitamins for people either with the flu or nervous about contracting the flu or the coronavirus are very popular. The most common vitamins used in IV drip treatments are vitamins C, B vitamins, magnesium and calcium.

Reputable IV lounges will have a registered nurse or physician’s assistant on duty.  They place the IV catheter in a vein in your arm and you receive the IV fluids you requested there in the office.  There are also mobile IV services who will come to your hotel room or home upon request.

Critics say that these treatments are a lot of nonsense.  Many of the ailments people are seeking relief from are not caused by dehydration or cured by hydration, like jet lag and hangovers.   There is also a less expensive alternative to an IV drip which is to simply drink fluids. The minerals and vitamins can easily be obtained by eating healthy foods. There is, as of now, no proven scientific evidence that IV fluids on demand are beneficial in any way. There might also be a ‘placebo effect’ because in one study patients claimed to feel better when injected with a fake ‘cocktail’.

Are there risks?  With vitamins and minerals the body can have too much of a good thing, risking damage to several organs including the liver. There is also risk of infection when inserting an IV line which creates a direct path into the bloodstream. IV’s contain a lot of salt which is not good for those with heart disease or high blood pressure.  The clinics are not closely regulated.

Proponents of these IV drips point out that the body receives a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals through an IV drip than it does when the vitamins and minerals are taken by mouth.  If taken by mouth, vitamins and minerals get broken down in the stomach and digestive tract so only 50% at best is absorbed.  When vitamins and minerals are given through an IV, they are absorbed at 90%.

If you want to try IV therapy:

  • Make sure you find a place with a reputable doctor, nurse or physician’s assistant who will provide and monitor the infusions.
  • Make sure you are asked for your comprehensive medical history, what medications you are currently taking and what health concerns you have.
  • Before you go talk to your primary physician. Ask what vitamins you might benefit from receiving, and if any of your health issues might create an adverse reaction to an IV drip.
  • Try to find some reviews of the clinic you plan on using.

The bottom line appears to be that these treatments are reported to work for some patients.  Those who might be experiencing a placebo effect are still feeling better, so that’s worth something.  Depending on what the results were, if having healthier-looking skin was the goal and it was achieved, that can be a quality of life improvement.

Treatments can cost between $150 – $400 per session.  This type of IV treatment is usually not covered by insurance.


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