Are you feeling sluggish and tired throughout the day? Sick again for the third time in the last six months? Can’t seem to reach that personal record in your cycling class?
It sounds like a round or two of IV vitamin therapy may be in order. While IV hydration has created quite the buzz in recent years, IV hydration has been a thing longer than most realize, and the benefits may surprise you.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about IV hydration. From the different IV vitamin and hydration therapies to the risks and benefits. At the end of this article, you will better understand whether IV hydration is right for you. So, let’s jump right in.
What is IV therapy?
Many people are familiar with IV therapy in the context of hospitals and clinics. However, here’s a brief explanation for those who are not familiar. First, IV is an abbreviation for intravenous, which means inside the vein. A nurse or phlebotomist uses a needle to access a vein to deliver a medication. Once placed, a cannula replaces the needle. This thin plastic tube stays in the vein and connects to a line and a bag of solution into which various medications, nutrients, and electrolytes are added. IV therapy is the first choice for administering many different medications, such as antibiotics, anti-nausea and pain medications, and other solutions meant to rehydrate. Most infusions take 30 to 60 minutes to administer; however, some may be longer.
The benefit of using IV therapy to administer medication is that it bypasses the stomach and GI system, which may be necessary for drugs that can damage the stomach lining if ingested or delay the effects of the medicine. Also, while most people only receive IV therapy in a hospital, there are now options to receive it at home, especially if someone is receiving ongoing treatments (1).
What is IV vitamins and hydration therapy?
Where we previously only heard of people needing IV therapy when they were sick, IV vitamin and hydration therapy has become a health and wellness must-have. And, since celebrities such as Adele and Rihanna have sung their praises for this popular health trend, more and more people are buying in (2). So, what is IV vitamins and hydration therapy, and where did it come from?
IV hydration consists of administering various vitamins and other nutrients via an IV infusion. One option is the “Myers’ Cocktail, ” which while being the name of a mixture of different nutrients, also pays homage to the creator of IV hydration as we know it today.
According to Dena Westphalen (2), a clinical pharmacologist, it was Dr. Myers in the 1970s that created and began giving these vitamin infusions to his patients. Like today, these early “Myers’ cocktails” contained higher concentrations of vitamins than what people would get if they ingested foods containing these same nutrients. Over the years, the options available for these nutrient cocktails have increased, and we now have many variations.
What are the different vitamins and minerals in IV hydration?
Because people seek out IV hydration for various reasons, which we will get into next, the vitamins and minerals used each time will vary; however, here are some of the common ones (1):
- Vitamin B complex: This vitamin regimen includes vitamins B6 and B12, and is responsible for blood sugar control and metabolism. This infusion can help if you’re feeling run down, or sick.
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 can be given on its own and is responsible for energy levels as well. B12 also effects weight loss or gain and helps us metabolize macronutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is involved in immune support, and helps with tissue formation for blood vessels, muscles, cartilage, and more.
- Zinc: Zinc is another essential vitamin for the immune system.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is responsible for various bodily functions, from heart function to bone health; however, low magnesium can also produce symptoms, such as headaches and anxiety.
- Glutathione: While this antioxidant is a mouthful to pronounce, it is essential for several different functions, such as forming DNA, regenerating vitamins C and E, immune support, and tackling free radicals that cause damage to our cells.
- Taurine: Taurine is responsible for improved memory and mood, digestion, and immune function.
As highlighted before, in addition to these vitamins and minerals, some people may receive other intravenous medications, such as anti-nausea or pain meds and antibiotics; however, in spa setting or IV hydration clinic, this is less likely.
What are the pros or benefits of IV hydration?
Because the combination of nutrients in an infusion is endless, IV hydration can address various health issues and has many pros. But what is the perk of opting for IV hydration and nutrition when you could ingest the same vitamins and minerals? There are several (4):
- IV hydration is fast: Rather than simply eating and drinking foods and beverages for their important vitamins and minerals, IV hydration provides them in a more bioavailble fashion so your body can absorb more. When ingested, up to 50% of the nutrients are lost in digestion, and when issues such as dehydration from illness or intense workouts are a factor, this option may be the best for fast rehydration.
- Efficient in addressing absorption issues from certain conditions: Certain health conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome, can affect nutrient absorption. Since IV hydration bypasses the GI tract, this option allows for improved absorption.
- Heart friendly: Because certain minerals and nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and arginine, are involved in the heart’s funciton, additing these to a cocktail may help lower blood pressure.
- Provides the body with energy: Adding Vitamin B complex and ALA (alpha lipoic acid) to an infusion can help increase energy levels.
- Fights the signs of aging: Certain antioxidants, such as glutathione, are helpful with anti-aging. Glutathione fights free radicals, which attack our cells and lead to signs of aging, and helps detoxify the liver and support the immune system.
- Promotes wound healing: Many nutrients added to IV hydration help support healthy skin and healing.
- Supports the immune system: Like glutathione, other nutrients, such as vitamin C and zinc, support the immune system.
- Helps maintain a healthy weight: Weight loss or gain can be difficult even when the stars align, but if certain nutrient and vitamin levels are off, this imbalance can further hinder weight goals. Certain supplements can aid in weight loss, such as carnitine and ALA.
What are the cons?
Like any form of medical treatment, there may also be some risks associated with IV hydration (1,4).
- Cost: Because most insurances do not cover IV hydration unless linked to a medical visit, IV hydration often incurs out-of-pocket costs. While some infusions can cost as little as $80, others may cost upwards of $200 or more.
- Risk for infection: Any time the skin is punctured, there is a risk for infection. While the nurses and health staff take precautions to avoid infection, such as cleansing the skin before placing the needle and use of sterile products, there is still a chance that an infection may occur.
- Complications: Because everyone’s veins are different, there may be issues, such as bruising, pain, itching, or redness at the injection site, which can occur if the health staff has a hard time finding the vein or the IV begins to leak under the skin.
- Risk for reactions: The risk for adverse reactions is low with IV hydration since much of what is in the infusion is also found in our foods; however, the nurse or provider will assess beforehand to avoid any issues.
- Effectiveness: Not everyone will have a drastic effect from the IV hydration unless they are experiencing symptoms from dehydration or are feeling unwell; however, you can discuss this with the nurse or tech beforehand to learn more.
- Too much of a good thing: It is important that labs are closely monitored after receiving IV hydration. With certain vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and calcium, elevated levels could cause issues, such as irregular heart beat or concerning symptoms.
Things to consider if thinking about getting IV hydration
Here are some takeaways to consider before signing up for IV hydration therapy:
Once you find a reputable provider or clinic that offers IV hydration, make sure you share any pertinent information that may affect the type of infusion you receive, such as cardiac history or any issues with kidney function. Also, consider which symptoms you’d like addressed.
After talking with the nurse or healthcare provider about your concerns, decide what kind of infusion you’d like; whether you’re looking for an energy boost or need some relief from morning sickness, there are options for these concerns and many others.
The infusion itself can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to complete. And, while some people may not experience a dramatic difference after IV hydration, the effects typically last anywhere from four days to two weeks (1).
Also, because most insurances do not cover IV hydration in a health spa setting, there are often out-of-pocket costs (1).
In closing, if you’re looking for IV hydration in the Maryland area, Shakthi Health and Wellness is here to help. As just one of the many services offered by Dr. Rao-Mahadevia and her team, IV hydration can be an important part of treatment for those looking for relief from chronic fatigue or pain, or a variety of other health concerns. With options, such as Hydro-drip, which includes Vitamin C and an amino blend, this option can help those recovering from an injury; while Awaken can help ameliorate brain fog.
Using her knowledge of the benefits of each IV hydration treatment, Dr. Rao-Mahadevia will assess each individual’s needs to determine which treatment option is best, and customize each treatment plan. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call us at 301-703-5067, or visit us at www.raowellness.com.