IV therapy craze has Americans pumping vitamins into their veins: Results are ‘pretty dramatic’
While IV drip therapy has gained popularity as a trendy hangover cure and health trend, the practice of fueling the body with essential vitamins faster than an ingestible can has been around for decades.
IV clinic owners Dr. Pauline Jose (PH Drip Lab in California) and Dr. Christopher Neary (Prime IV, which has franchises around the country) shared with Fox News Digital the types of vitamin cocktails they’ve been serving up of late.
Dr. Jose, based in California, revealed that about 50% of the national population is deficient in some type of vitamin, which means there’s been a major demand in the supplement industry.
But traditional oral supplements don’t always do the trick, said the allopathic primary care physician.
“When you take something orally, it’s not always absorbed 100%,” she said. “When you do it either intramuscularly or intravenously, through the vein, it’s absorbed almost 100%.”
This method can be “very important” for those who are vitamin-deficient, Jose said, which is “the reason why it has become so big.”
It’s not just people with medical conditions who are seeking out IV treatments.
Some patients come in for “just a boost” in vitamins to strengthen their immune system before traveling, or to prevent infections such as COVID-19 and the flu, according to Jose.
“Even those who are about to get sick or are feeling under the weather — they go for a drip,” she said.
Neary, who is based in Bend, Oregon, added that he believes COVID-19 served as a “catalyst” for the IV therapy craze.
“What we’re doing is allowing high, targeted levels of nutrients to be delivered into the cells of the body without interference or issues with the digestive system,” he said.
“There’s no question that the GI tract may not be absorbing properly.”
Many of Jose’s regular patients want to add essential vitamins, such as vitamins C and B, to their drips.
“It really helps to make them feel better,” she said.
Jose mentioned that one of PH Drip Lab’s most popular concoctions is called the Myers Cocktail.
The mix, which includes magnesium, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin B, is named after Dr. John Myers of Baltimore, Maryland, who first curated the cocktail in the 1960s, Jose said.
Myers used the cocktail to treat multiple conditions, including anemia, depression, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
“This is really an old thing, and it’s just coming about because of the onset of functional medicine,” Jose said. When people are deficient in vitamins, they don’t feel well, she explained, and they have found that the IV infusions make them feel better.
PH Drip Lab, in its own twist on the Myers Cocktail, adds glutathione, which is an antioxidant that helps boost immunity and promotes anti-aging.
Specific vitamins such as magnesium and potassium can help reduce blood pressure, Jose noted — while vitamin Bs can work as an anti-depressant.
“Many studies have shown that … vitamin Bs, for example, B6, B9 and even B12, can help with depression,” she went on. “Many psychiatrists recommend Bs to their patients who have depression or anxiety or conditions like that.”
Neary, who owns Prime IV in Bend, Oregon, as well as a private practice, also advocated for the benefits of B vitamins on both physical and mental health.
The naturopathic doctor listed the benefits of B vitamins, including hormone regulation, cellular function, energy restoration and mood improvement.
“If we can support just basic biology and chemistry with nutrients, that’s always beneficial,” he said.
Neary’s clinic offers different formulas, including mixes that support energy, sleep, mood, detoxification and specific benefits like skin health.
“We’ve even stepped more into post-surgical type drips, and bariatric drips to replenish nutrients that are difficult to get after those procedures,” he said.
“We have some for athletic performance recovery and some for chronic disease,” Neary explained. “And, of course, there’s the hangover drip.”
While it might seem that the hangover drip would be the most popular treatment at Prime IV, Neary revealed that the clinic’s “Glow” drip is actually the one that clients seek most.
This cocktail leans on B vitamins to detox the liver and promote healthier-looking skin.
At its core, Prime IV offers drips for enhanced hydration and electrolyte intake for people who are recovering from an event or who experience chronic dehydration from caffeine or other substances.
Many Prime IV patients have sought out drip therapy to overcome addiction using supplements like NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), Neary said.
Originally developed for opiate and alcohol addiction, NAD can help enable different biochemical processes, like energy production, sleep, detoxification and nerve function, Neary explained.
The doctor added that “results across the board are pretty dramatic,” as the quality of nutrients is “far superior to what it used to be” in terms of access and compound complexity.
“Everything is individualized, and we can customize just about anything,” Neary said. “There are reasons to add things and remove things. It just depends on what each person needs.”
Best to talk with a healthcare provider
Before starting IV hydration treatments, it’s best to talk with a healthcare provider about possible risks and complications — and anyone with an existing medical condition should do so for sure, states WebMD.
While vitamins are inherently beneficial for most people, having too many vitamins injected into the bloodstream at once can lead to toxicity, per the same site.
Overly frequent sessions can also cause nutritional imbalances in the body or even overhydration — which can lead to headaches and nausea.
Other potential side effects include swelling, redness, or infection at the injection site.
While IV therapy is not covered by insurance, Jose shared her hope for coverage in the future, even though “it’s a stretch.”
“Even vital treatments these days are not getting covered,” she said. “But that’s my wish.”
Neary was more skeptical about future coverage for IV therapy, but he still encourages interested patients to try it out.
“There are reasons not to do it, and we want to make sure we’re being safe,” he said. “But with proper training, it is very safe.”