This week I walked into an urban day spa, past the manicure and pedicure area and through a beautiful lounge with crystal-infused water and teas, into a back room where a board-certified anesthesiologist performs a different kind of wellness treatment — IV drip therapy. Sights you'd normally only see in a hospital — syringes, rubber gloves, and liter bags of fluids suspended from a metal post — are now making their way into spas and holistic health treatments, but why?
Dr. Neetu Ahluwalia is a Stanford-trained physician offering this new-age (and dare I say, trendy) treatment to patients in San Francisco — one that helps them feel rejuvenated and refreshed instantly. The draw is the instant gratification. "You feel the effects almost instantly," said Dr. Ahluwalia.
And he wasn't lying. I got the 30-minute treatment myself — a hybrid of his "Myers Cocktail" treatment with added glutathione for glowing skin — and I'm still feeling the effects a day later. Dr. Ahluwalia mentioned that many of us run on the dehydrated side, without really knowing it — and the effects of dehydration can wear on our bodies in so many ways. Want to reverse that quickly? IV therapy might be for you.
- Boosted and fortified immune system
- Boosted mood
- Improved energy levels, lessened fatigue
- Feeling of strength in your workouts
- Quick post-marathon (or endurance event) recovery
- Cured hangover
- Glowing skin
What Else Is in It?
The one liter of fluid that enters your body is full of electrolytes, but the rest of the vitamins are up to you and the doctor's discretion. In this case, my IV fluid also included B vitamins, magnesium (great for anti-anxiety and muscle recovery), calcium, antioxidants, vitamin C, and glutathione. It's like the healthiest cocktail you can think of, delivered straight to your veins for instant bioavailability (meaning your body can use it immediately, and it doesn't have to be digested or broken down). Dr. Ahluwalia also has a blend for detoxing with anti-nausea medication and anti-inflammatory medication.
(Side bar — I felt like I was peeing straight Vitamin Water afterward. Sorry if that's gross, but you should know that you're going to be making several bathroom trips after your body ingests 1L of fluids in a 30-minute window.)
Is It Safe? Does It Hurt?
Full disclosure: I was *freeeEeeEeEEeaking* out before my treatment — needles and veins are NOT my jam. Despite the fact that I've had several IVs growing up (ironically, I had severe dehyrdation as a kid and had to go to the hospital), I can't get over the fact that someone's pricking into my vein.
Dr. Ahluwalia was a master of distraction, asking me questions while I had my eyes closed to take my mind off of the needle. There was a pinch, and then it was over. From there, you'll feel a cool rush as the fluids start to enter your body. It's actually quite peaceful.
In terms of safety, it's essential that you see a doctor — MD specifically — for this procedure. So while this falls under "alternative medicine" and holistic health, you're still opening up your blood stream and introducing a new substance to your body. It's also important to note that these types of treatments are not FDA-approved. A San Diego woman died after getting turmeric infused into her veins by a naturopathic doctor, so be sure to research your medical practitioner's background and certifications before getting a treatment.
Dr. David Katz, MD, Founding Director at Yale University Prevention Research Center, told Shape "The risk of infection goes up any time you take IV lines or any medical equipment outside of a standard healthcare setting," which further emphasizes the importance of getting this type of treatment from a medical doctor. Dr. Katz himself offers a Myers Cocktail to patients (like the one I received), but says the effects are more powerful on someone who has a condition like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
Should You Try It?
Do you have a hangover that is so powerfully awful and life-ruining you're willing to shell out a couple hundred bucks for a chance at salvation? This might be for you. Did you just run a marathon and you feel like your body just got hit by a semi-truck? This also might be for you. Are you nutrient deficient, always tired, or in a physical rut you can't seem to get out of? Might be time to try vitamin infusion. These procedures cost anywhere from $200 to $300, so factor that into your decision making, too.
Dr. Ahluwalia told me that you'll feel more drastic results if you've experienced something like running a marathon or some kind of illness. When your body is more run down and in need of a boost, the effects will be revitalizing. Will this my new post-race recovery ritual? Maybe!
I wasn't in a particularly bad spot yesterday (health-wise), other than feeling somewhat fatigued post-SoulCycle, and even I felt rejuvenated. It was like I had taken a refreshing cool dip in the fountain of youth. My mood was lifted, I felt more energy, and one of my co-workers (who didn't realize I had gotten the treatment) said my skin was glowing. My workout this morning felt supercharged, despite the fact that I got up at 6 a.m. — and I'm not a morning person.
While there is a lack of research confirming the benefits of IV therapy, in my personal experience, it gives you an awesome boost, you can definitely feel effects (and quickly) and if you're in need of some physical and mental rejuvenation, this may be an excellent treatment for you — so long as you're getting it done safely from a medical doctor.