In California now, alongside the ubiquitous nail bars and yoga studios, IV drip clinics are springing up like mushrooms, selling brightly coloured liquid blends of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that can purportedly reboot every aspect of your life. Hung over? Tired? Stressed? Dehydrated? Need a glow for your tired skin, or a boost for your hair and nails? These are the latest intravenous options for the fit and more or less healthy. Brought down from the medicinal mountain on high for those with sufficient cash to avail themselves of optimal wellbeing.
They have spread across the seas to the UK now, and despite their exorbitant cost, are becoming increasingly popular. But know your IV facts, and consider your budget before committing, because a one off shot is unlikely to boost your health dramatically. IVs are best done regularly and, like exercise, diet and sleep, they should be considered a fundamental, if much more expensive, pillar of healthy living.
Finding out what’s actually going into your arm is hard. Maybe it’s to do with NHS rules and regulations, but the contents are rarely clearly listed – and the dosages never. It’s hard to get an answer when you ask for specifics and only occasionally do I get precise facts or figures. More often than not a generic description is meant to do - ‘Winter Wellness’ or ‘Immunity Boost’ - as I am fobbed off with a bland title that offers little re-assurance in a search for definitive health benefits.
If you are ill with a serious health condition, an intravenous drip is worth serious consideration - if, that is, you can find a medical specialist who knows their oats and can advise you properly. Don’t self-prescribe. Search out a doctor of functional medicine and follow their protocols and you are unlikely to go wrong.
Take the advice of the local ‘drip bar’ and you may well be wasting both your money and time.
Consultingroom.com offers a list of centres across the UK, both medical and therapeutic that offer a range of IV drips.
What is an intravenous nutrient drip?
Intravenous (IV) Therapy or Intravenous Micronutrient Therapy (IVMT), is a treatment where a bag of carefully combined liquid nutrients, usually hanging on a tall metal stand, slowly drips its contents through a clear plastic tube into a canula inserted into a vein in your hand or arm. The nutrients pass rapidly into your bloodstream, where they are circulated around the body and used where they are wanted, by-passing the gastric juices that so often destroy vitamins and minerals that are swallowed down with a glass of water. Sessions usually take about an hour.
What are the benefits of taking nutrients intravenously?
Did you realise that sometimes up to 85% of the benefits of normal vitamins are lost when you swallow them?
In today’s industrialised world, with high intensity farming methods and chemical fertilisers, it is harder to access the levels of nutrients our forefathers took for granted in what they ate. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements is one way of making sure your cells have enough to work with to keep you healthy - replacing those missing nutrients and boosting the systems.
Digestive problems, bloating, indigestion and food sensitivities often prevent people absorbing the nutrients they need. Illness can cause the body to use them much faster than normal and larger quantities may be needed to get them well again.
Intravenously, your body gets a much larger dose. With an IV drip, 100% of the nutrients get directly into your bloodstream. By-passing the stomach and its digestive enzymes by directly injecting the nutrients into your bloodstream speeds up the healing process and ensures that a much higher concentration of nutrients gets absorbed and rapidly circulated directly to the specific cells that need help.
And do intravenous nutrient injections hurt?
You hardly feel anything from the liquids - vitamin C can ‘burn’ slightly as it goes in - but the initial insertion of the needle into your vein is about as painful as a normal injection. A brief prick and then it passes. Make sure the person doing the drip is professionally trained, avoiding any complications or damage to your veins. Sit back, read a book or listen to music, and in a flash, it’s over.
What health problems are intravenous nutrients suitable for?
The answer here is any condition where your body might be low in the nutrients you need to stay healthy. The cells in the body need a variety of vitamins and minerals to function properly, and IV therapy can get the nutrients directly to wherever they are needed. Gut problems, fibromyalgia, weak immunity, depression and anxiety, hormone balancing and chronic fatigue all respond well to targeted treatment. IV is also one of the most efficient ways of getting toxic metals out of the body.
Is there any scientific evidence for intravenous nutrients?
It’s very easy to diss IV treatments, and disregard their effectiveness, but they have been used as a medical tool for decades now. Dr John Myers, after whom the popular Myers cocktail IV is named, incorporated it successfully in his Baltimore practise for years, and Dr Alan Gaby, from the same city, worked with more than 1,000 patients intravenously injecting them with liquid nutrients, eventually publishing his results in the 2002 Alternative Medicine Review (Vol 7, No 5).
What’s in your IV drip?
This is a combination drip that is frequently used in many IV clinics and is a great all round booster. It includes essential vitamins and trace minerals – vitamin C, the B vitamins (B1,2,3,5,6, BS 12), magnesium and folic acid, with different add-on’s for different nutritional boosts. It has been clinically trialled for fibromyalgia, with the results finding it entirely safe (Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine ‘Intravenous Micronutrient Therapies (Myers cocktail) for Fibromyalgia: a placebo-controlled pilot study' Ather Ali et Al)
Your cells need oxygen to survive and to carry out their daily tasks and this increases oxygen levels, helping to repair the body’s tissues and boost white blood cells, reducing the plaque that builds up on the arteries and wiping out bacteria and viruses.
IVs for removing toxic metals
Toxic metals - mercury, copper, aluminium, cadmium - are lethal to the health of the human body, which cannot get rid of them by itself. If your levels are high, your health is likely to be compromised, and one of the quickest ways to get yourself better is to remove them from your body. Chelation, done by IV, is one of the ways to detoxify, binding specific substances to the metals, so that they can be successfully excreted from the body through the kidneys and urine. These should only be prescribed for you by a doctor as a part of a whole body treatment.
Binds to heavy metals, particularly lead.
Binds to heavy metals, particularly to mercury.
Removes calcification or plaque build-up in the arteries; reduces inflammation.
High Dose Vitamin C IV
Detoxification, speeds metabolism and supports the adrenals. Used as a cancer therapy and to neutralise bacteria and viruses. Reduces inflammation.
Liquid sodium bicarbonate alkalises your body’s PH levels, neutralising bacteria and viruses.
Boosts immunity, detoxifies the liver and reduces inflammation. Known as the ‘master antioxidant’ it wipes out free radicals, increasing energy levels and improving brain function.
Glutathione has been used to treat Alzheimer’s, cancer, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease and Lyme disease.
As we get older, our levels of glutathione reduce by around 10% every decade, so replacing it via IV is an effective health tool.
Alpha-lipoic Acid (ALA)
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is used to treat cancer (especially pancreatic cancer with metastasis), neuropathy and chronic liver disease. It is a powerful antioxidant, like vitamin C and E, and helps to protect cells from oxidative damage.
This treatment is hard to find but is one of the most effective metal chelation therapies. It boosts red bloods cells, reduces the fats in your arteries and organs and stimulates your heart, brain, nerve and muscle cells. Lowers cholesterol and homocysteine. Good for mould toxicity.
Poly-MVA is a blend of the mineral palladium bonded to alpha-lipoic acid, vitamins B1, B2 and B12, formyl-methionine, N-acetyl cysteine, with trace amounts of molybdenum, rhodium, and ruthenium. Designed to boost energy levels and add oxygen to the cells, increasing their energy and boosting ATP (Adenosine triphosphate).
Reduces pain and inflammation and boosts immunity; anti-viral and speeds up recovery from chemo, boosting the liver and improving memory.
Pure silver in nano sized particles. Anti-microbial, used to treat bacterial, fungal and viral infections. Also offered for Lyme’s disease.
This an organic, sulphur containing compound that is used for pain relief from back pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, interstitial cystitis, and other pain conditions. It repairs and detoxifies the cells and reduces inflammation.
Short for Methionine, Inositol, and Choline, amino acids that are good for weight loss and detoxification. Stimulates the metabolism and gets rid of fat from the liver.
This is a sulfur compound that occurs in nature. It is formed in the atmosphere and returned to earth in rainfall, which is then absorbed by plants in high concentration. It has anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. Boosts immunity and decreases susceptibility to infection.
Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin)
Most people are deficient in B12, which is needed for many of the body’s functions. Intravenously, it passes through the blood brain barrier and gets directly to the brain. Speeds metabolism and boosts energy levels.
• B-Complex – This contains B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, and B-12. B vitamins work to boost metabolism for weight loss and energy, but they are also known to help with PMS, inflammation and sleep.
• Biotin – (B7) improves hair, skin, and nails, and helps maintain blood sugar levels.
• Folic Acid – (B9) The body needs folate to synthesize and repair DNA, create red blood cells, produce energy, and keep healthy nerve function.
• Thiamine (B1) deficiency is very common, and can lead to symptoms of poor blood sugar control and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, memory loss, fatigue, and neuropathy.
• Pantothenic acid (B5) modulates stress responses, improves blood sugar regulation, mood and skin.
• Pyrodoxine (B6) speeds up detoxification, balances hormones, blood sugar and cholesterol metabolism. Common symptoms of deficiency in B6 are depression, sleep and skin problems, confusion, anxiety, and fatigue.
• Vitamin C – necessary for cellular repair, growth and development. Boosts immunity, improves skin and joint health. Vitamin C given intravenously has been found to reach blood concentrations more than 50 times greater than achieved when given orally.
• Magnesium – For nerve, skin and muscle health and helps with sleep and relaxation. Deficiencies in magnesium can lead to high or uncontrolled blood pressure, poor wound healing, insomnia, muscle cramps, osteoporosis, sugar cravings, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
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Written by health advocate Sara Davenport, founder of one of the UK's leading breast cancer charities, Breast Cancer Haven. With over twenty years' experience in holistic health, Sara's digital dose of wellness teaches you to listen to your body, tweak your lifestyle and improve your health.
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