While most people aren’t fans of needles, many are getting past their aversion to them to embrace booster shots and intravenous (IV) therapy, a growing trend that gives spa-goers another way to incorporate wellness into their lives. Popular among celebs, professional athletes, and wellness enthusiasts, these vitamin infusions are winning people over with the promise of a quick fix. “More and more people from all walks of life are putting a premium on health and wellness,” says Jack Dybis, M.D., medical director of IVme Hydration Clinic (Chicago). “Eating healthy, feeling good, and living an active lifestyle are becoming increasingly important. At the same time, people’s schedules remain or have become even busier, which can leave them little time to care for themselves.” IV therapies, which intravenously infuse a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients directly into the bloodstream, can provide an extra boost of energy, immunity, and more. “IV therapies can help people quickly establish a healthy baseline from which to build,” says Dybis. In addition, they can also be used to treat a host of ailments, such as a hangover, jet lag, cold and flu, and dehydration. As a result, health-conscious spa-goers are taking advantage of the growing number of IV clinics, pop-up locations, and medical spas that are providing IV infusions.
Despite the recent buzz surrounding IV therapy, the treatment has been around for decades. Baltimore physician John Myers, M.D., introduced the Myers’ cocktail, an intravenous nutrient infusion containing calcium, magnesium, and vitamins B and C, to treat a variety of chronic conditions more than 30 years ago. Although it was sometimes met with skepticism, it also created a following among those who found it useful in treating migraines, fatigue, sinusitis, and more. Today, it is often cited as the pioneering cocktail from which all others are based.
In fact, it’s still available at various locations, including IVme Hydration Clinic, where it remains one of the most popular offerings, and The Drip Room (Scottsdale, AZ), where it’s referred to as the Classic Myers Drip. LifeXist, an age-management company, provides a number of health and wellness services, such as vitamin IV infusions, oral vitamins, and neurofeedback. According to Todd Beckman, president and CEO of Bam Brands, the franchise company that operates LifeXist, the Myers’ cocktail has recently made a comeback. However, he notes that it’s no longer used to treat specific conditions but rather imbalances. The same can be said for many IV formulas now available.
What makes IV therapy so appealing is the fact that it offers such effective and instantaneous results. According to Johnny Parvani, M.D., CEO of Reviv (multiple locations), IV infusions offer an ideal way to replenish the body. Unfortunately, ingested fluids and oral supplements must pass through the gastrointestinal tract, which leads to only some of the nutrients reaching their intended destination. IV therapy provides a more targeted approach. In this fast-paced world, speed is also an advantage. “The proper IV treatment can take just 30 to 60 minutes and have you back on your feet within hours, rather than days,” says Dybis.
And getting people back on their feet is certainly the goal of today’s popular hangover cures, which have helped put IV therapy on the map. Hangover Heaven (Las Vegas), founded by anesthesiologist Jason Burke, M.D., is a medical clinic dedicated to curing hangovers with a variety of IV infusions. Those who expect to party a bit too hard in Vegas can even book a party bus for morning-after group treatments. The Hangover Club, another example, is an in-home service available in a number of cities in the U.S. in which a NutriDrip Infusion Specialist, aka a certified registered nurse, administers one of three special NutriDrips, which are designed to fight hangovers. Clients can choose among The Classic ($199), which provides instant hydration and electrolytes; The Super ($219), which adds an additional shot of energy with a vitamin B booster; and The Mega ($249), which includes a high dose of vitamin C, liquid magnesium, and a detox booster. Each includes a choice of nausea or pain-relief medication.
Health and Beauty Boost
While hangover cures have certainly garnered their fair share of the headlines, it’s the variety of wellness cocktails and the benefits they claim to provide that keep people coming back for more. NutriDrip, a brand of IV infusions, offers pop-ups around New York City, and frequently partners with other wellness companies, such as CryoSphere Cryotherapy and HigherDose, which offers infrared sauna sessions. NutriDrip founder Asa Kitfield launched the Future Spa pop-up in April at the Standard East Village hotel. It moved to The Alchemist’s Kitchen in late July. There, it offered an IV Drip Bar, which was paired with plant-based elixirs. In addition to providing NutriDrip infusions, the pop-up also offers cryogenic facials and infrared body wraps. According to Kitfield, combining the services helps maximize the detoxifying effects. “What I’m really excited about is bringing together a certain cutting-edge wellness and integrative therapy together in one house,” says Kitfield.
Whether people want to improve their skin, treat seasonal allergies, or get a boost of immunity to get through cold and flu season, there is an IV or injectable therapy available. According to Parvani, vitamin B12 shots are especially popular on account of the energizing benefits they provide. Reviv, which is a global provider of IV treatments and booster shots, offers a Vitamin B12 shot as well as the Megaboost Infusion, a wellness IV loaded with antioxidants, electrolytes, minerals, nutrients, and vitamins, including B12. Another ingredient that is topping request lists is glutathione. It is a molecule produced naturally by the body that helps protect it from chronic illness. At Reviv, clients can opt for a Glutathione Booster Shot, which not only improves their immune systems but also offers a host of anti-aging benefits, such as suppressing inflammation, fighting free-radical damage, and preventing and reversing cell damage. Although the overall health and wellness benefits are enough to entice most people, for others, it’s the beauty boost that provides the real draw.
With four U.S. and 34 international locations so far, Reviv is proving there is widespread interest in such therapies. In addition, numerous medical doctors across the country are offering IV therapy as part of their practices. Mignonne Mary, M.D., for example, founded the Remedy Room (New Orleans), and Lena Edwards, M.D., serves as medical director of IV2You (Boca Raton, FL). According to Parvani, the industry has barely scratched the surface in terms of its true potential.
Considering the wellness benefits IV therapy provides, it’s really no surprise that spa-goers are gravitating toward such services and that it is making its way into spas. The Thompson Chicago may not have an on-site spa but that isn’t preventing it from offering guests the opportunity to schedule on-site IV treatments. The hotel recently teamed up with IVme Hydration Clinic, to offer two new packages specializing in combating dehydration and other travel-related issues. Brunch and Recover (starting a $499 per night) provides guests a private in-room consultation with a member of the IVme team, one IV hydration treatment, a session of oxygen therapy, and an in-room breakfast for two. For those looking to boost their immunity, Business Class (starting at $479 per night) features a grab-and-go breakfast, complimentary Lexus car service to and from IVme Hydration Clinic, a personal consultation, and one IV hydration treatment. “Wellness is an important aspect of the travel experience that guests are seeking out more and more, and IVme felt like a natural fit given the level of customization they offer their clients,” says Tiffany Braun, regional director of sales and marketing at Thompson Chicago. “Our guests often look to us to introduce them to the city of Chicago, and it was important that we partner with a brand like IVme, which already has strong ties and a strong following in the city.”
The company recently signed a lease to open another location in Chicago, which will serve as its flagship. It also has plans to expand nationally. “There are a myriad of acute and chronic medical issues that are helped with IV therapies, ranging from the common cold to potentially debilitating diseases resulting in dehydration,” says Dybis.
Risks and Rewards
Because IV therapy is administered by certified medical professionals, patients can rest assured that safety is a priority. However, like any medical procedure, it’s important to be aware of any contraindications, as risks like phlebitis, inflammation of the veins; blood clots; allergic reactions; toxicity; and more can occur. Fortunately, for most wellness-seekers it is a safe and relatively painless (a topical numbing agent is often used) treatment.
While still considered an alternative therapy, it’s definitely moving into the mainstream. “IV therapies are the ultimate preventative medicine,” says Dybis. “You look and feel better and get to relax in a comfortable, soothing environment as the essential vitamins, nutrients, and minerals flow into your body.” According to Beckman, the idea that IV therapies are a great fit in a spa environment is a no-brainer. “People who go to spas want to look better, they want to feel better, they want to function better,” he says. “High-dose IV vitamin therapy allows people to do that.”