Jet lag, fat burning, heightened sexual performance, and stress—these are just a few of the conditions that may benefit from treatment with IV therapy. In fact, more and more healthcare professionals around the world are weighing in on the natural procedure that helps cure hangovers in late night partiers and boosts immunity in those with nutrient deficiencies.
IV, or intravenous refers to the administration of medication, nutrition or fluids delivered to an individual through a peripheral or central line.
So, what is IV therapy and how can it be used?
Also known as IV infusion therapy, IV therapy has existed in the U.S. since the 1950’s. In the 1970’s John’s Hopkins, Baltimore physician, John Myers invented what has come to be known as, “The Myers Cocktail”. Thought to be beneficial for a number of health conditions, the doctor combined magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, and Vitamin C to create the “cocktail” introduced intravenously. American and Canadian doctors in the naturopathic, holistic health communities were quick to embrace the mixture and delivery method.
The Myers cocktail has been used for treatment of the following:
- Chronic fatigue
- Muscle spasms
- Congestive heart failure
- Angina (chest pain)
*Treatment for fibromyalgia with IV therapy has also shown promise, according to one Yale University study.
Other popular cocktails include:
Glutathione IV—This contains a powerful antioxidant found mainly in the liver and brain. When administered intravenously it may improve their function. Individuals may choose a Glutathione IV cocktail for the following:
- Memory enhancement
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Liver disease
Banana Bag—This multivitamin infusion is popular for individuals with nutrient deficiencies. It includes Vitamin A, B1, B2, B5, B6, Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Vitamin E, Potassium, Folic Acid, Biotin, and Vitamin B12. This combination turns yellow in color, hence the name “banana bag”.
How it Works—Selecting the Right Drip
IV therapy drips come in a wide range of infusions depending on the type of condition or issue to be addressed. Drips are available to simply hydrate individuals. These work to enhance lost electrolytes and replenish fluids that are important for flushing harmful toxins from the body. IV infusion that provides vitamin therapy is also popular among athletes and individuals with high physical demands. Drips that include pain relief formulas, and detox drips to help undo physical damage due to excess drug or alcohol consumption can also be chosen by individuals. IV infusion therapy begins with a salt solution that contains the same salt concentration as the human body. This helps individuals to absorb nutrients more efficiently.
IV Therapy may be effective for the following conditions:
- Migraine headaches
- Muscle spasms
- Chronic fatigue
- Upper respiratory infection
- Parkinson’s disease
- Allergic rhinitis
- Chronic sinusitis
- Acute viral illness
- Acute strain or injury
- Coronary artery disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Vitamin deficiency
- Immune boost
- Nerve pain
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle pain/spasm
- Supplement for athletes/dieters
- Prevention of disease
Where to Get IV Therapy
- Wellness Centers
- Drip Spas
- Health Clinics
- Naturopathic Centers
- Hydrate Bars
- IV Clinics
What To Expect with IV Therapy?
IV therapy takes about 20 to 30 minutes and can be administered in a clinical setting or spa. IV therapy is meant to be relaxing and is often available in a center that specializes in natural health. It is important to dress comfortably for the infusion experience, to come hydrated if possible, and to eat a good meal before visiting the spa or clinic. A care provider will insert an IV catheter into the forearm and hang a bag of fluid containing a mixture of nutrients or medications (medical setting only) for about $100. Spas and bars do range in price considerably, depending on ingredients and nutrient combinations however. Some offer membership specials and long-term plans for those who wish to infuse regularly.
The Process—Intravenous Therapy
IV infusion therapy uses the same high quality, medical grade equipment used by doctors and hospitals every day. In a calm, soothing setting individuals recline or lie down altogether to receive fluids that will drip into the catheter and reach the bloodstream immediately. The infusion session generally takes no more than 30-60 minutes from start to finish and should leave individuals feeling calm, relaxed, and refreshed.
What Supplements are Used in IV Therapy?
A Myers Cocktail consists of the following nutrients:
Magnesium chloride hexahydrate (20%)—This nutrient aids in detoxification of harmful toxins within the body. Chloride helps the body produce gastric acid, which stimulates enzymes necessary to digest starch.
Calcium gluconate (10%)—This is used to treat calcium deficiencies, osteomalacia (softening of the bones) black widow spider bites, and some allergic conditions affecting the capillaries.
Hydroxocobalamin (1,000 μ/mL)—This is also known as Vitamin B12a and is used for B12 deficiency, pernicious anemia or nervous system injury.
Pyridoxine hydrochloride (100 mg/mL)—Pyridoxine hydrochloride or vitamin B6, is part of vitamin B complex and is necessary for correct nerve function and nutrient metabolization.
Dexpanthenol (250 mg/mL)—Dexpanthenol is necessary for healthy skin. Topical dexpanthenol is used to moisturize skin, to provide elasticity, and to heal wounds.
B-complex 100 containing:
Thiamine HCl—Thiamine Hydrochloride is a form of salt extracted from thiamine, necessary for cellular growth, nerve impulse transmission and aerobic metabolism.
Riboflavin—Also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin is needed for red blood cell production as well as energy release from proteins in the body.
Pyridoxine HCl—This is used by the body to metabolize amino acids and proteins. A B6 deficiency is a common nutrient deficiency.
Panthenol—This is a common skin care ingredient found in plants and derived from vitamin B5.
Niacinamide 2% benxyl alcohol—This nutrient is also known as B3 and aids in healthy skin structure and protein synthesis. It also causes anti-inflammatory effects for conditions such as acne and rosacea.
Vitamin C (500 mg/mL)—Vitamin C is an essential dietary nutrient necessary for biosynthesis of collagen, protein metabolism, and wound healing. Vitamin C also aids in immune function and acts as an antioxidant.
How Effective is IV Therapy?
Individuals will begin to feel refreshed and energized immediately after receiving IV therapy infusion. Most people will feel the full effects of IV infusion therapy after a full 24 hr. period. Vitamin infusion wakes up the body, restoring it to a healthier state. Each treatment leaves an individual feeling more rested, more alert, and more aware of how a healthy body feels. Individuals become in tune with their bodies, noticing when and how negative feelings such as anxiety and laziness creep in.
Support for IV therapy from mainstream medical circles has been slow, however. Dr. David Katz, clinical instructor in medicine at Yale School of Public Health points out, there is no solid scientific evidence to support the use of IV therapy. He has however seen patients suffering from fibromyalgia, malabsorption issues, and chronic fatigue syndrome respond positively to IV infusion treatments. He does add that while individuals experience an immediate “pick-me-up” after therapy, this could be due to increased blood flow or volume, as well as a placebo effect.
Safety of IV Intravenous Therapy
According to Katz there may be some medical concerns with vitamin infusion therapy. Vitamin infusion bypasses the GI tract, making nutrients readily available to cells. While high doses of vitamins such as, Vitamin C would normally upset the stomach, intravenous therapy helps avoid all that. The downside however is that the GI system normally offers several layers of protection from contaminants and other harmful molecules that could cause illness or an allergic reaction. Without safeguards such as antibodies contained in saliva or liver detoxification, the risk for unfiltered bacteria is there.
Other possible side effects and concerns include:
Mild pain may be caused when the needle punctures the skin. Cold spray on the injection site may decrease the amount of pain caused by inserting the IV.
Any time the skin is broken, risk of infection is possible. A staph or candida organism present on the skin can enter the site of insertion. Generally these are localized infections that can cause swelling, redness, or fever. If infections travel through the bloodstream however, they can be life threatening.
This occurs when infection, fluids, or a foreign object such as an IV catheter cause inflammation to a vein. Symptoms include swelling, warmth, pain, and redness at the vein.
This condition occurs when IV fluid enters tissue surrounding the vein, rather than the vein itself. This can be due to damage of an overused vein or fragile vein that has ruptured. Localized swelling may occur, though the condition is generally not dangerous unless IV medication causes damage to surrounding tissues.
This condition occurs when the body cannot absorb or excrete fluids quickly enough. This could lead to hypertension, heart failure, or pulmonary edema.
Rapid changes in the body due to infusion of cold fluids could induce changes in the heart and lead to ventricular fibrillation.
Individuals who receive IV therapy may be at risk for electrolyte imbalance due to either an increase or decrease in the proper balance of sodium, potassium, magnesium, or other electrolytes. Left untreated this imbalance can eventually lead to acidosis/alkalosis, and eventually death.
An embolism occurs when an air bubble, blood clot, or other solid mass is introduced into an IV. Damage to the body can occur that can stop the heart. Veins are preferred over arteries for drip therapies since veins will direct an air bubble embolism through the lungs, many times resolving the condition.
Although not part of standard medical care in the U.S., some countries such as China and Korea offer glucose drips to individuals as a quick “pick me up” or to ward off colds. Referred to commonly as “ringer” the glucose solution is administered without a prescription, over-the-counter in many Asian countries, as well as in the United States by some physicians. Individuals who seek regular glucose drips run the risk of blood borne infections.
Intravenous therapy can provide a wealth of nutritional support for individuals who may be deficient in one or more areas due to diet or a medical condition. Many combinations of vitamins and minerals are available to help mitigate pain, inflammation, and chronic fatigue. Consult your physician before engaging in any invasive treatment or procedure.
1Ali, Ather, et al. “Intravenous Micronutrient Therapy (Myers’ Cocktail) for Fibromyalgia: A Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Mar. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894814/.
2Ebner, F, et al. “Topical use of dexpanthenol in skin disorders.” American journal of clinical dermatology., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12113650.
3Gehring, W. “Nicotinic acid/Niacinamide and the skin.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17147561.
4“Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin C.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/.
5Waitt, C, et al. “Intravenous therapy.” Postgraduate Medical Journal, BMJ Group, Jan. 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1757963/.