Vitamin drip therapy. Celebrities treat themselves to it before hitting the red carpet. Fitness enthusiasts use it to increase the intensity of their workouts. Plastic surgeons prescribe it to reduce pain and speed up healing post-surgery. And best of all, science shows it works!
Although it’s been around since the mid 1950’s, vitamin drip therapy isn’t very well known to the general public. It’s not much of a secret to Hollywood’s top celebrities, though – Simon Cowell, Cindy Crawford, Geri Halliwell, Madonna, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, and Kate Upton have all spoken highly of the procedure.
Imagine a spa salon filled with people reclining in couches or lounge chairs. Now instead of the massage oils, foot baths, or nail dryers you’d expect to find, imagine intravenous drips, hanging from the patrons’ arms. That’s what vitamin therapy is like.
It may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but the procedure’s proponents swear by its age-defying properties: restore the skin’s youthful glow, stimulate boundless energy, prevent illness, and even ward off diseases like cancer… it seems like there’s nothing these intravenous concoctions can’t do.
Since this all sounds a little too good to be true, I spoke with an expert in the field to find out more: Dr. Kristine Blanche, leader of Integrative Healthcare at Aristocrat Plastic Surgery in New York and Long Island, has been delivering vitamin drips for more than a decade.
And to separate the hype from the hard facts, I also conducted a brief review of scientific literature on the topic. Here’s what I learned.
How does vitamin drip therapy work?
“Most medications given intravenously – IV antibiotics, for example – are more powerful. The same is true for intravenous vitamins,” says Dr. Blanche. “The benefits are many, though one of the major benefits is that the vitamins or minerals bypass the gut and go right where they need to be – directly into the bloodstream.”
“For any number of reasons, many people have digestive issues so it’s hard for them to absorb nutrients from food and/or nutritional supplements,” Dr. Blanche continues, “With IV nutrients, we get to place the nutrients into the bloodstream directly, ‘filling the tank’ to help the body heal, which has great benefits for the immune system, adrenal glands and so forth.”
What type of nutrients can be administered using a vitamin drip?
Dr. Blanche informs that nutrients can include:
- Vitamin C – to boost the immune system and fight the flu and viruses.
- B vitamins – to help with attention, focus and energy.
- Magnesium – to relax and support every cell of the body, and as a great supplement for athletic performance and recovery.
- Zinc and selenium – to help support the thyroid, immune system and wound healing.
- Amino acids – for enhanced brain health.
- Glutathione – for anti-aging, anti-cancer, and even as a treatment and preventative nutrient for Parkinson’s disease.
The vitamin drip cocktail menu
Most vitamin drip providers offer a wide array of options to their clients. Depending on your objectives, you can browse the menu and choose your vitamin ‘cocktail’ of choice. At some outlets, you can even have a special custom-made cocktail put together.
For instance, Aristocrat Plastic Surgery offers “The Myers Cocktail” – a combination of magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins used to treat a wide range of clinical conditions.
New York’s IV Doc is a high-end mobile service that caters to clients in the comfort of their home, hotel, or private office. For $399, their Beautifying Hydration Treatment promises to make you look and feel your best prior to a special event or night out. The special concoction includes:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
- Multi-Vitamin Cocktail (“Banana Bag”)
Similarly, Vitasquad in Miami offers a mixed infusion LiquiBeauty package:
- Magnesium chloride
- Vitamin C
- Trace elements – chromium, zinc, selenium, copper and manganese
- B complex vitamins – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6
- Methylcobalamin – B12
Is the vitamin drip an effective anti aging treatment?
“Yes, it’s my personal favorite for anti-aging,” says Dr. Blanche. “The antioxidant effect of vitamin C and glutathione is very powerful, as it protects against free radicals and scavenges them to prevent cell damage. I tell my patients to think of oxidation from free radicals as a kind of rusting. Antioxidants such as vitamin C prevent the rust, which makes them a potent anti-aging formula. Glutathione is the most powerful anti-aging treatment we use, along with the incredible benefits it provides for the brain!”
Many Hollywood celebrities use vitamin drips to give their beauty regimen an additional edge. Kim Kardashian and Kate Upton have called upon New York’s IV Doc’s dedicated in-home services for a quick, 30-minute boost before hitting the red carpet.
Is there any pain to be expected with a vitamin drip?
If the thought of needles makes your stomach squirm, vitamin drip therapy might not be the best option for you. Still, the procedure is quite painless. “The only pain you’ll feel is during the few seconds it takes to insert the needle,” says Dr. Blanche. “We use IV catheters so the patient feels more comfortable.”
Once the catheter is introduced into the vein using a needle, the needle is removed, leaving the end of the plastic catheter tube in the arm, which is then taped into place. “People like that the needle is removed for the treatment because it allows them to bend their arm or even go to the bathroom,” adds Dr. Blanche.
How long does the treatment take?
Depending on the treatment selected, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
What does the average vitamin drip cost?
The cost of a drip at Aristocrat Plastic Surgery ranges from $250 to $450, depending on the contents of the drip.
New York’s IV Doc’s Beautifying Hydration Treatment will set you back $399 for a 30 minute infusion of up to 1 liter of IV fluid.
Miami’s Vitasquad LiquiBeauty infusion costs $95 per 500mL for the traditional treatment, or $175 for Liquid Life, their ultimate IV infusion.
Is there any science to show vitamin therapy really works?
As suggested earlier, vitamin drips aren’t new. They were pioneered back in the mid 1950’s by Dr. John Myers, a medical doctor who discovered that they were an effective treatment for a wide variety of conditions such as asthma attacks, acute migraines, fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome), fibromyalgia, acute muscle spasm, upper respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, and seasonal allergic rhinitis. Improvements were also seen in patients with congestive heart failure, thyroid problems, and more.
But even though Myers had almost two decades of clinical experience, with many positive reports from patients, only a limited amount of published research is available. Here is a short synopsis of some of the scientific evidence I found.
Vitamin C drip benefits
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is well known for its powerful antioxidant properties, which exhibit a range of health benefits across many diseases. It comes as no surprise that intravenous vitamin C has received the most research attention, particularly for its potential as a cancer treatment.
When cancer develops, there is a direct imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Fighting this through the intravenous administration of vitamins is more effective than oral solutions, which often fail to sufficiently increase the presence of vitamins in the blood. This has been demonstrated in a number of scientific papers.
Some research even shows that vitamin C infusions increase antioxidants and help fight off cancer cells in some patients. However, other studies show no such correlation. Scientists have not yet reached a definitive conclusion on this topic.
In terms of side effects, one thing scientists tend to agree upon is that vitamin C drip therapy is safe and shows promise for improving outcomes for cancer patients. High-dose vitamin C has also shown to be effective in the treatment of viral infections, mitigating any long-term effects. It also has the ability to reduce blood pressure.
Intravenous magnesium benefits
Intravenous magnesium can play a major role in decreasing post-operative pain and reducing the need for medications, according to number of studies (a,b,c).
A 15 to 30 minute magnesium infusion given to adults with acute asthma has also been shown to reduce hospital admissions by 7%.
Since magnesium is a mineral used in over 300 enzymatic body functions, more research is required to determine how intravenous magnesium could benefit other conditions as well.
As suggested by Dr. Blanche, intravenous glutathione is an incredibly powerful antioxidant. Research has shown that it reduces oxidative stress and may aid in preventing the onset and progression of Parkinson’s disease.
Vitamin D drip
Most of the research on intravenous vitamin D has focused on hemodialysis patients, where it has been shown to reduce the rate of infection and death, and improve their quality of life.
Vitamin B drip
Intravenous vitamin B1 (thiamine) has been shown to improve outcomes for cardiac patients both pre- and post-surgery (a,b,c).
The Myers cocktail, which includes the range of B vitamins, has been shown to improve symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Intravenous vitamin B3 (niacin) has been shown to assist with weight loss by reducing belly fat storage.
Intravenous vitamin B12 (cobalamin/ methylcobalamin) is effective for patients with peripheral neuropathy.
Unfortunately, there are no direct studies to confirm that vitamin drips have any anti-aging properties. However, research shows that antioxidant nutrients have the ability to minimize the effects of aging.
Since vitamin therapy does in fact increase the presence of nutrients in the blood more effectively than oral doses, it does arguably present real anti-aging benefits. After all, it has the potential to feed the body’s cells more efficiently, lowering the oxidative stress and free radicals that speed up aging.
Vitamin drips as a post surgery treatment
Aristocrat Plastic Surgery is just one of several plastic surgery facilities that now offer vitamin therapy to reduce pain and promote faster healing after post operatively.
“Our surgical patients see the best results when they are administered pre-op drips that boost vitamin C, zinc and selenium because it helps reduce risk of infection, and speeds up wound healing,” says Dr. Blanche. “After surgery, we recommend post-op drips because they help the body detoxify from the anesthesia and reduce recovery time.”