Getting the Needle. Will an IV Drip Really Make You Feel Better as Celebs Claim?

7 mins

Favoured by celebs like Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Justin Bieber, IV Vitamin Drips promise bags of wellness to boost your mood, keep colds at bay and make your skin glow. But what’s the deal with this latest wellness must-have?

From energy boost to immunity strength infusions, intravenous vitamin drips have been coursing through the veins of Hollywood stars for years. Madonna has allegedly been partial to B12 injections for vitality and to boost her metabolism since 2007; Health & Wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow is said to receive regular IV infusions to help her immunity, and Grace & Frankie and veteran fitness star Jane Fonda reportedly uses anti-ageing IV drips. (Well, there had to be some well-kept secret behind her eternal youth!)

Clinics offering IV therapy have popped up in cities across the country, promising infusions to boost hydration, increase energy, support immunity, and fight the signs of aging. We stopped off at Cornerstone Clinic, Dubai Marina to discuss the pros and cons with family physician and IV clinician Dr Ruhil Badiani, to try one and find out what all the hype is about.

What Is It?

IV vitamin drips deliver a particular combination of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutritional substances directly into your bloodstream via a thin cannula tube into a vein in your arm. Not for the faint-hearted (who likes a needle in their arm?), and diluted in half a litre of a saline, treatments take around 45 minutes to administer and are targeted at improving particular areas that affect your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

IV vitamin drips are favoured by celebs such as wellness Guru, Gwyneth Paltrow

The specific ingredients used, and duration of a course depend on your goals. At Cornerstone Clinic you can choose from a range of treatments including Anti-stress, Liver Detox, Female Balance, Glowing Skin, Immune boost, and Fat Burning to name but a few.

‘Wellness goals are very personal, and I can only simulate motivation and encourage my patients if I know exactly what they are working towards,’ IV therapy specialist Dr Badiani tells The Ethicalist. ‘I will set clear and realistic goals framed around their vision and there is no such thing as a goal that is ‘too small’.

Clients fill out questionnaires that enable the physician to consider various factors, such as diet, medical history, supplements used and symptoms, to formulate the right IV drip. How many often a client needs depends on the end aim.

Here Comes The Science

IV vitamin drips fundamentally cut out the digestive middleman. If you’re taking oral supplements, the nutrients pass through your digestive system first before entering the bloodstream. During this process the digestive enzymes break down the supplements and you may absorb only half of the available nutrients, while the remainder is excreted via your urine.

However, when common IV vitamins such as magnesium, zinc, thiamine, selenium and folic acid are delivered directly into your bloodstream, via an IV drip, you can absorb up to 90 per cent of these available nutrients because they’re bypassing the digestive enzymes.

Fruits with vitamins popular in IV vitamin drips cascading into water
Common IV vitamins include Vitamin C, B12, magnesium, zinc, thiamine, selenium and folic acid.

This means nutrients can be immediately available for your body to use. And since these treatments use water-soluble vitamins – vitamins C and B12 are commonly included in the infusions – your body will absorb everything it needs straight away, and anything it doesn’t is filtered out.

Some non-advocates argue however that infusing vitamins through your veins bypasses your digestive system, thereby putting you at risk of an allergic reaction. Something Dr Badiani says they are careful to avoid. ‘Any treatment given has risks and benefits regardless of the route that is taken,’ she says. ‘Sensitivities to certain ingredients can be a risk with IV infusions and so care is taken when initiating treatment by ensuring patients are monitored throughout the treatment by a doctor and nurse’.

Because any vitamins that aren’t required by the body are simply flushed out critics of IVT argue that that they are a waste of money, or as doctor’s at Cedars Sinai say: ‘These treatments are mostly harmless and really just result in people making expensive urine.’

The best way to ensure you are only getting what your body needs is via a blood test.

‘I would always recommend one to check for deficiencies so that we can give the patient the best treatment possible,’ says Dr Badiani. ‘For a one off IV infusion it is not a necessity, but I would always do a full blood test if a package of IV infusions is requested.’

Enhance Immune Function

IV vitamin drips offer an array of benefits including claims to boost immunity.

IV therapy has been touted as an effective tool in helping your immune system fight off viral infections by naturally detoxifying your body and removing harmful free radicals – unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and aging.

Immunity-supporting IV treatments are especially effective when administered on a regular basis, every 3 – 4 months.

It goes without saying that they aren’t a replacement for a healthy lifestyle and well-balanced diet but including them alongside oral supplements can add to your defence against cold and flu symptoms, infections, and viruses.

So, Are IV Vitamin Drips Worth the Hype?

IVT will certainly hydrate you and if you’re vitamin deficient it will top up the vitamins your body may require. But it’s best to do as much research as possible beforehand and use an approved clinic rather than opting in at a music festival this summer for example. Remember, when you bypass the gut, you bypass your body’s built-in defence mechanisms so make sure you know what you’re taking and ensure it is administered by a trained professional using only sterile needles.

The Author’s Experience

I visited the brand-new Cornerstone Clinic in Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai Marina to try out their Medway Fusion Drip. The regenerative health and wellness clinic was recently opened by one of the world’s leading Plastic Surgeons, Dr Maurizio Viel as luxurious location for family medicine, dentistry, aesthetics and wellness. Alongside aesthetic treatments, invasive and non-invasive procedures, the clinic also offers a contemporary space for IV drip infusions.

Cornerstone Clinic is located in Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai Marina.

After an initial consultation with Dr Badiani, I elected for the Liver Cleanse (Detox). Ingredients include glutathione, magnesium and B vitamins. As a hater of all things pointy and needle like, I was hesitant initially to voluntarily jab one of my unfairly thin veins. However, I need not have been afraid, the nurse at Cornerstone had clearly done this innumerable times before and I didn’t even feel a scratch as the needle was inserted. The vitamin bag was fixed into place, and I was informed that throughout the first 15 minutes the drip would move very slowly to ensure I was not sensitive to any of the ingredients.

After a lovely discussion with Doctor Badiani – which post medical discussions, centred on shared anecdotes about the exhaustive nature of motherhood! – I was left to relax in a light and breezy room overlooking the Grosvenor House Hotel with a frangipani plant in full blossom swaying outside the window. After 15 minutes of child free, work free relaxation the rate of the drip was increased, and I was given a whole 30 minutes more to close my eyes and remember a time in my life when relaxation was something I could fit into my non-working-mother-of-two schedule.

The whole treatment, including the doctor’s consultation and vital signs check, took 60 minutes. While I’m not sure how much my liver is improved for the boost of vitamins, I certainly left the clinic feeling bouncier than when I went in, and I would definitely go back for more. If it’s good enough for Gwynnie, it’s good enough for me!

To book a consultation contact Cornerstone Clinic here

Dr. Ruhil Badiani MBBS, BSc RadSci, MRCGP, DRCOG
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