Is IV Therapy A Safe Way To Cure Your Hangover?

If you're the type who likes to trawl TikTok for life hacks and miracle cures, you've probably heard about the latest, greatest hangover treatment: IV therapy. No longer reserved for hospital patients, this health service is now available at clinics, spas, music festivals, and even mobile hydration vans.

An IV — short for an "intravenous line" — is basically a tube that is inserted into one of your veins with a needle. That tube is then hooked up to a bag of restorative fluids, often reinforced with different vitamins and minerals, depending on your health needs (via the Cleveland Clinic).

In regard to treating hangovers, the idea is simple. When you wake up after a great party with a banging headache and a new sensitivity to light, it can take hours or even days to recover on your own. Proponents of IV therapy claim that it can kill your hangover faster, providing a shortcut back to feeling your best.

But with a potential price tag of $175 to $249 per treatment, trying this remedy isn't a decision that everyone can take lightly (via Business Insider). So, we're tackling the question: is IV therapy really a safe and worthwhile way to handle a hangover?

The benefits of IV therapy

Medical professionals have been using IVs to help patients for over 100 years, so without a doubt, this treatment has some benefits. Primarily, it delivers hydration faster and more directly into your system, which is why IVs are often used to combat dehydration (via UrgentMED).

Vitamin-fortified IV fluids may also help your body get a bigger bang from your vitamins' buck. As clinical pharmacist Dena Westphalen explains to Healthline, "While you're undergoing an IV vitamin drip, your body is receiving a higher concentration of the vitamins themselves. A vitamin that's taken by mouth gets broken down in the stomach and digestive tract, and is limited on how much can be absorbed (50%). If, however, the vitamin is given through an IV, it's absorbed at a much higher percentage (90%)."

IV therapy enthusiasts believe that because IVs give your body quick access to these boosts in hydration and vitamin content, this treatment is a perfect solution to the age-old scourge of hangovers. However, these benefits don't come without their downsides.

Potential risks of IV therapy

Even the most minor medical procedures have their risks and potential side effects. And while IV therapy has taken on new popularity for casual use, it's still a medical procedure. So, what risks can users expect?

For one thing, since an IV requires breaking your skin with a needle, there's always a chance of infection at the insertion point. IVs can also contribute to blood clots or air embolisms. Some users may even receive too much of a certain vitamin or mineral in the IV fluid, which can cause or exacerbate other health issues (via Healthline).

And this is all assuming that the IV itself is safe and above-board. IV therapy done in an unsafe setting or with a fluid of questionable quality can lead to even more problems. "When you put something straight into the bloodstream, you bypass all of your body's built-in safeguards and filters," Dr. Sam Torbati, co-chair of emergency medicine at Cedars-Sinai, reports on the Cedars-Sinai blog. "You want to make sure you know exactly what's in it."

So, with all that said, is IV therapy really worth it? If you're receiving the treatment in a calm, sterile environment, you're probably fine. But if you can achieve the same effect by simply hydrating the old-fashioned way, why take unnecessary chances? As trendy as IV therapy might be, it doesn't seem much different than just reaching for classic hangover cures like water or sports drinks.

So, the next time you're battling a hangover, it may be easier — and more cost-effective — to get your hydration elsewhere. As Dr. Torbati concludes about the IV option, "These treatments are mostly harmless and really just result in people making expensive urine."