IVs are for sick people in hospitals, right? Not necessarily. In recent years, IV clinics have popped up in cities across the country, making a quick hit of fluids and various vitamins available to pretty much anyone. They claim to alleviate everything from hangovers to headaches and to generally leave you feeling better and more energized. So, why wouldn’t I try it?
Let’s start with the basics. IV therapy entails getting hooked up to an intravenous flow of fluids, electrolytes, and/or blends of vitamins or meds. While the various offerings differ from place to place, the premise is that this direct infusion into the blood delivers results, fast. According to Jack Dybis, MD, a board-certified surgeon and co-founder of IVme in Chicago (where I went, BTW), there’s almost no one who couldn’t benefit. “Frequent travelers, athletes, anyone feeling tired, anyone hungover, those who feel like they’re getting sick…these are all good candidates for an IV treatment,” he says.
While any reputable provider will inquire about your medical history and confirm that this is safe for you, typically only those with serious conditions such as heart or renal disease should not receive IV therapy, Dr. Dybis adds. (Pregnancy also isn’t necessarily a contraindication, and there are even special blends that can be used to help alleviate morning sickness.)
Though IV therapy has only recently become mainstream, it’s always been common practice in the medical profession. “Rundown doctors have been giving each other IVs for years,” reveals Dr. Dybis, adding that it’s also historically been used in the military and professional sports. IV therapy for the public first started in Las Vegas—capitalizing, obviously, on the ability to make you feel better after a night of boozing—but has now expanded to other cities with a focus on health and wellness. Most IV clinics nowadays offer different combos of vitamins and medications meant to address various issues.
Take IVme, for example, which was the third IV clinic in the country when it opened in December 2012; they offer 13 different options that can help with everything from stress to jetlag to allergies to migraines. At any IV clinic, you’ll be able to choose based on your particular ailments, though Dr. Dybis is quick to note that ultimately the provider will have the final say and ensure that you make the right choice. To that point, he cautions that it’s of utmost importance to make sure that any IV spot you visit is run by properly trained, licensed medical professionals.
But back to my experience: I visited IVme on a Monday afternoon after a long weekend spent at my sister-in-law’s wedding. I drank rosé like it was my job, barely slept, danced my pants off, and ended the weekend eating French fries for breakfast. True story. Case in point: Those three days of excess (which were vastly different from my normally green-juice-infused virtuous lifestyle, I should add) left me feeling less than stellar come Monday. I was exhausted mentally and physically, had a mild headache, and felt genuinely sluggish. Dr. Dybis’s suggested solution: a wellness and vitality blend, infused with B vitamins for energy, vitamin C for immunity, and glutathione, a powerful antioxidant.
The insertion of the IV was painless, and within seconds, I was hooked up to a bag of yellowish-looking liquid and relaxing on a couch. The whole process took less than an hour, and as the bag drained, I started to feel less drained. According to Dr. Dybis, the effects can be instant, or kick-in within a few hours, and last as long as a day (depending on the particular concoction you receive). Granted, the hydration component is a big part of this, since most people are dehydrated to begin with, he adds. But delivering the vitamins directly into the bloodstream not only makes for instant absorption, but also allows you to receive a greater amount of ones such as vitamin C, which can cause tummy problems when taken orally in higher doses.
I walked out feeling pretty damn good and noticeably better than when I walked in. I pounded out a whole bunch of work, felt great during a Flywheel class, and was even motivated enough to run some errands I’d been putting off. Not bad considering that I had been riding the struggle bus just a few hours prior. I noticed the most drastic effects later that night, when I was so energized that I couldn’t fall asleep until almost 2 a.m. (Note to self: Next time get your IV earlier in the day.)
The bottom line: I think it worked. Dr. Dybis says it’s safe to receive IVs multiple times per week, depending on your lifestyle and individual needs, though I think that’s obviously not realistic for most people (not for me, at least). Prices vary based on where you go and the particular IV you get, but on average, plan on shelling out a few hundred dollars. Still, the next time I feel like I’m getting sick or spend a long weekend partying, I’d absolutely try this treatment again.