Trendland: IV therapy is supposed to heal you from the inside out, but is it worth it? Experts weigh in
This is Trendland, your go-to encyclopedia of the latest trends in the wellness and self-care space. Once a month, we’ll be connecting with experts to take a deep dive into this buzzy world, tackling specific products, procedures, and trends. From IV therapy to ear seeds, we’ll get to the bottom of what each trend is about, who it’s meant for, and if it’s actually safe. Because while something might be trending, that doesn’t always mean it’s worth exploring.
When you think of peak wellness, images of moringa-infused iced matchas, Himalayan salt meditation caves, and yoni eggs might come to mind. While these things have all had their five minutes of fame, there’s a new kid on the block: IV therapy. Catapulted into the spotlight by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars—including everyone from Madonna and Rhianna to Kendall and Gwyneth—it’s no wonder the intravenous treatment has officially made it mainstream. Beyond the celeb endorsements, however, it’s important to understand what IV therapy is before deciding whether or not you want to partake. As always, we’re here to help. Keep reading to learn the most important things to keep in mind when hopping on the IV bandwagon.
What is IV therapy?
IV therapy is a quick and effective way to deliver fluids, vitamins, and minerals directly into the bloodstream.
The process is as follows: After a brief medical consultation with a nurse or nurse practitioner, you will choose the IV therapy of your choice (more on the different types below). Once selected, the RN/NP will prep the area of skin where the injection will take place (usually on the top of your hand or the inner bend of your arm). Next, you will feel a slight prick, just as you would with a shot or when receiving fluids at the hospital. Once everything is hooked up, the IV therapy process takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, so it’s a good idea to bring headphones or a book along for the ride.
What are the different types of IV therapy?
Whether you’re hungover, coming down with a cold, or in need of a brightening skin boost, there’s an IV drip for that.
“Clean Market’s IV drip lounge, powered by NutriDrip, offers 14 different drip protocols, along with booster shots,” says Clean Market co-founder Lily Kunin. “Beyond our standard drips, we’re also able to create custom protocols to specifically address your needs.”
According to Kunin, the most common IV therapies are designed to increase energy, enhance the strength of the immune system, mitigate anxiety and stress, and prevent aging. What’s more, the most common vitamin cocktail includes magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, and multiple B vitamins—it’s known as the Myer’s Cocktail and was created by Johns Hopkins Hospital physician John Myers.
What are the benefits of IV therapy?
Although it is subjective, there are some benefits when it comes to IV therapy. “I believe vitamin drips can be very effective,” general practitioner Dr. Michael Hall shares, noting that he’s used them in his longevity practice now for several years. “They can be used for a variety of reasons from EDTA chelating for heavy metal intoxication like mercury to providing a high dose of vitamin C to fight off viral infections or even cancer.” He explains that just like someone who has an infection, antibiotics and corticosteroids can be infused into the IV to rapidly improve the infection by quickly killing off the bacteria. “Also, if someone has been doing drugs, dehydrated, or intoxicated by alcohol, 1 liter of lactated ringers with the Myers cocktail and a glutathione chase can be very effective in reversing the hangover,” he adds.
More specifically, if you opt for an IV drip that’s geared towards younger-looking skin (like REVIV’s Vitaglow, $239), then you can expect a radiant, youthful complexion for a couple of days following the treatment. On the other hand, if you opt for Clean Market’s Mega Recovery ($199), you can look forward to your hangover being cured within the course of the hour-long treatment.
All that aside, the biggest benefit of any IV therapy (regardless of specific type) is that it injects full doses into the bloodstream. “The intravenous infusions directly introduce 100 percent of the vitamins and nutrients into your system,” says REVIV co-founder Dr. Johnny Parvani, noting that orally ingested vitamins and nutrients are subject to the absorption barrier in the gastrointestinal tract.
Who is a good candidate for IV therapy?
According to Kunin, IV therapy is generally very safe, and most people are good candidates. “NutriDrip’s registered nurses and nurse practitioners assess each client and their medical history to make sure the client is eligible for service. If a client is pregnant, under 18 or over 65, our team will need to receive a doctor’s note before they can receive IV therapy,” she says. Additionally, those with cancer, chronic, untreatable, or intractable conditions should also chat with their doctor before booking an IV therapy treatment, as the vitamins can react with the conditions, as well as medications used to manage them.
Are there any negative side effects associated with IV therapy?
Speaking of conditions and reactions, let’s chat side effects. Kunin says that negative side effects are extremely rare and that the most common is mild bruising at the area of injection. However, depending on any pre-existing conditions (like kidney disease or renal failure), IV therapy can lead to serious side effects depending on the vitamins included in the cocktail. That’s because when your kidneys can’t function properly to help rid the body of excess vitamins, a 100 percent dose of vitamin C or potassium could lead to heart palpitations or even a heart attack. That said, it’s important to pay close attention during the preliminary medical consultation of an IV therapy appointment so that you can inform your nurse of any conditions or diseases that may negatively affect the outcome of your IV therapy—or prevent you from partaking in the first place.
When is the best time to get an IV drip?
Again, this depends on the type of drip you’re getting. If the goal is to reverse a hangover or prevent a cold, go as soon as you feel unwell. If it’s to boost your complexion, your best bet is to schedule an appointment a day or two before the event for maximum results. “Each vitamin is metabolized at a specific rate and the effects of some are sustained for a longer period of time,” Kunin explains. “If you are preparing for a specific event, we have multi-drip protocols that are often helpful to start a few weeks out.”
Where is it safe to get IV therapy?
You can find IV therapy at spas, boutique wellness studios, doctor’s offices, and even high-end hotels—but, keep in mind that the treatments are most often found in major metropolitan areas like New York City, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Las Vegas, Miami, and the like. Given you can find the treatments at a variety of businesses, Kunin emphasizes the importance of ensuring that whoever is administering your drip is, in fact, a registered nurse or nurse practitioner. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” she insists.
Hall adds on to this, noting that most of what goes into people’s veins, unless it’s done under the auspices of a trained medical doctor, should never occur. “The sterility of the confines, along with the manufacturer of the ingredients and vitamin products that will be mixed into these IV bags, must be strictly controlled and in the hands of someone with the experience or understanding, otherwise this could create more problems and possibly serious health issues,” he says. Additionally, he recommends always going to a medical doctor who has oxygen and ACLS training before getting a drip, as there is always a slight chance of getting an infection, hematoma, or, even worse, an anaphylactic reaction to anything injected into the vein. Since this could, worst-case scenario, shut down the heart, cause a coma, or even death, he reiterates that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If the IV therapy company you’re considering meets these criteria, then you should be in the clear. If you’re not sure, check out the below companies for a safe, hassle-free intro to the wellness trend:
● NKD NYC
● Privé IV