If you’ve ever spent time in a hospital or health care setting, you’ve likely seen an intravenous drip. Hanging from a pole is a bag filled with fluid, electrolytes, or medication. The fluid makes its way down a small tube, through a catheter, and directly into the recipient’s veins, bypassing the digestive tract altogether.
Most people associate intravenous (IV) drips with illness. However, the practice is gaining steam in the wellness world. IV hydration bars are popping up in cities across the nation. From music festivals to athletic events, people are seen resting under tents hooked up to IVs. Spas have added IV drips to their array of offerings. Even mobile buses and vans will deliver a boost of hydration or vitamins right to your doorstep.
While IV therapy may seem trendy and new, it’s a practice that many holistic health practitioners have been embracing for years. When used correctly, intravenous infusions are an excellent way to revitalize the body with vitamins and minerals and deliver the much-needed antioxidants to fight free radical damage.
What is IV drip therapy?
IV vitamin therapy, also referred to as IV micronutrient therapy or hydration therapy, delivers high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants directly into the bloodstream.
Dr. John Myers, a Johns Hopkins physician, pioneered the idea of adding vitamins and minerals to intravenous fluid. This engineer-turned-doctor realized that many nutrients were not being absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, he developed a “cocktail” of key vitamins and minerals to administer intravenously, thus maximizing absorption. Myers first tested his concoction on animals, then on himself, and eventually on others.
While the exact mix of his IV formula is unknown, a colleague of Dr. Myers named Dr. Alan Gaby, recreated it to the best of his ability. This modified mixture, called “Myers’ cocktail,” consists of magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Countless practitioners have administered the Myers cocktail over the years.
Why would I need IV drip therapy?
Ideally, we would obtain all the nutrients our bodies need for optimal performance from our food. But unfortunately, food is much less nutrient-dense than it was just a decade ago. Years of poor farming practices and soil depletion have robbed our food of vital nutrients. Additionally, increased pollution makes its way to food through rain, further depleting nutritional value.
Even the nutrients that we get through food or supplements are not always optimally utilized. Nutrients taken by mouth must go through the stomach before being absorbed into the bloodstream. Absorption depends on many issues, including digestive health, hormones, and existing vitamin deficiencies. Additionally, as we age, metabolism slows, making it even harder to absorb the amounts of nutrients we need.
When vitamins are administered intravenously, or straight into the veins, nutrients go directly into the bloodstream. Higher levels of vitamins and minerals in the bloodstream lead to greater cell uptake.
Individuals unable to consume enough whole, organic food and those with digestive disorders benefit most from IV drip therapy. Additionally, those with high levels of toxins in the body can achieve great results with intravenous therapy.
How can I benefit from IV drip therapy?
Intravenous drip therapy offers a host of benefits, including:
- Strengthens the immune system
IV therapy is an effective way to strengthen the immune system. By providing the cells with high doses of essential nutrients, the body is better able to hydrate, flush out toxins, and ward off illness.
- Boosts energy levels
There are many causes of low energy, including dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, low levels of vitamin B-12, and oxidative stress. Intravenous therapy can immediately boost energy levels by replacing essential vitamins and minerals that become depleted.
- Lowers oxidative stress
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. When left unchecked, free radicals can cause cell damage. The vitamins provided in intravenous drips often include potent antioxidants that fight off free radical damage.
- Helps rid the body of toxins
From pesticides to environmental pollution, our world is a toxic place. Even if you lead a relatively healthy lifestyle, chemicals, molds, and heavy metals may linger in your body. IV drip therapy administers amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients into the bloodstream that help to purge toxic materials from the body.
- Improves cardiovascular health
High toxic loads, weakened immune systems, and oxidative stress all contribute to cardiac disease. By addressing these factors, heart health naturally improves.
What is in an intravenous drip?
Most IV hydration solutions start with a sterile saline solution. Saline combines sodium chloride with sterile water. This isotonic solution mimics blood plasma. Then, various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids are added to the drips. Some of the more common additions include:
- Vitamin C: This powerful antioxidant encourages white blood cell production, lowers blood pressure, and aids in iron absorption and collagen production. Vitamin C also fights free radical damage caused by exposure to pollution and environmental factors.
- B-vitamins: B-complex vitamins include eight different vitamins that perform various functions, including energy production, cell production, and immune system support.
- Glutathione: Glutathione is the body’s most abundant antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress. It aids in detoxification, helping to flush chemicals, pollutants, and medications out of the body.
- Magnesium: This macronutrient enhances muscular, cardiovascular, and nervous system function. It’s also crucial for maintaining energy and reducing fatigue.
- Amino acids: Amino acids improve immunity by increasing T-cell production. They also enhance energy, boost metabolism, and improve circulation.
- Zinc: Zinc, the body’s second most abundant trace mineral, is vital for nearly all functions. Zinc helps fight oxidative stress, thus lowering inflammation. It is also essential for a robust immune system.
How often should I get IV drip therapy?
People seek out IV therapy for different reasons. As a result, how often you get an IV drip depends on your baseline health status and wellness goals. While some individuals supplement with an infusion once in a while, others benefit from more regular visits. A qualified health coach can guide you to the best treatment routine.
IV therapy precautions
As with most health crazes, many people jump on the bandwagon once something catches on. While intravenous drip therapy is a valuable treatment option, there are some important precautions to keep in mind:
- Seek out IV drip therapy from a qualified and reputable medical professional. IV lounges are popping up nationwide, and not all are created equal. Be sure only to receive intravenous treatment from licensed medical professionals in a healthcare setting.
- Intravenous drip therapy does not come without risks. Bypassing the digestive system also increases the chances of side effects, some of which are dangerous. Being aware of the risks associated with IV therapy is essential. Working with a qualified healthcare professional reduces the chances of a negative outcome.
- There are no quick fixes to health. While intravenous vitamin infusions may provide a boost, they should never be used as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. Eating a whole-food-based organic diet is still the best way to achieve health.
If your health has declined tremendously, intravenous drip therapy may be helpful. IV vitamin therapy provides another layer of health support for those with nutrient deficiencies. It’s an excellent option for those who feel that they need a boost to get back on their feet.
However, not everyone needs IV drip therapy. Therefore, obtaining a baseline understanding of your health needs is essential before infusion. The NHD offers an intracellular micronutrient test that examines the vitamins and minerals inside and outside your cells. Knowing your deficiencies helps tailor your IV therapy, ensuring you receive what your body needs — nothing more or less.
Eat Well, Live Well, Think Well
Medical Review: Dr. Lauren Lattanza 2022