Facials and peels? They barely scratch the surface. The newest “spa” treatments go far deeper. In fact, intravenous (IV) nutrient therapies release cocktails of wellness-enhancing vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants directly into patients’ veins. These restorative infusions — favored by celebs like Chrissy Teigen and Miley Cyrus — have recently opened in soothing, luxe spaces known as drip bars and lounges.
Some, like the new Naturopathica Madison, also offer conventional spa services, while others, like Privé I.V., NutriDrip and Clean Market, primarily feature drips. All four offer nurse-administered blends, designed to help with everything from detoxing and energizing to improving athletic performance and relieving hangovers.
Sessions typically last between 30 and 60 minutes. Before getting started, a nurse will discuss medical conditions, allergies, medications, concerns and desired results with the client. At Clean Market, prices range from $99 for the NutriGlow drip of anti-oxidant glutathione and vitamin C to $599 for the anti-aging NutriYouth blend including vitamins B-complex, C and magnesium, and treatments are not usually reimbursed by insurance.
Dasi, a 34-year-old New York-based actuarial analyst, is a recent convert. After suffering from low energy and stress, friends recommended that she try Privé I.V.’s Vitalize treatment ($349), which includes B-complex and glutathione. “I noticed a difference about a half an hour into the treatment. I felt very hydrated and upbeat, as if I had eaten and slept well for two weeks straight,” she tells Alexa. “I woke up early, sprung out of bed and made my spin class every day that week.”
The feel-good drip was popularized decades ago by the late Baltimore, Md., physician Dr. John Myers, who believed that concentrated intravenous doses of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes can ease all sorts of complaints. He created his so-called “Myers Cocktail” — composed of vitamins B and C, calcium, magnesium and selenium — to improve the symptoms of patients with chronic medical conditions.
‘I noticed a difference about a half an hour into the treatment. I felt very hydrated and upbeat, as if I had eaten and slept well for two weeks straight.’
There are, however, scant medical studies proving the effectiveness of IV nutrient therapy, or even the claim that concentrated doses of nutrients will make us look and feel better. The Federal Trade Commission, in fact, recently cracked down on some IV spa corporations falsely promising to cure disease.
Complications are also possible. In 2018, supermodel Kendall Jenner was reportedly rushed to the hospital after suffering an adverse reaction to an IV treatment. Her reps declined to comment for this article.
“Infection is the No. 1 risk of any IV therapy, followed by allergic reactions,” cautions Dr. Richard Firshein, a New York-based doctor of osteopathic and integrative medicine who administers IV nutrient therapy at his eponymous Park Avenue center. “Maintaining a clean infusion site using alcohol and/or Betadine is a must. And people with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease and kidney stones, should be particularly cautious.”
Firshein urges clients to only visit IV facilities run by a board-certified physician, and to ensure that treatments are administered by a doctor or a registered nurse under a doctor’s supervision.
“Be aware of all your underlying conditions, concerns, medications and supplements,” he notes. “Make sure all your questions are answered and that you don’t feel rushed. You should also avoid any practitioner who needs multiple sticks to get the IV started.”
Other doctors question the utility. “IV nutrient therapy is outside of mainstream medicine,” says NYC general practitioner and gastroenterologist Dr. James Salik. “I have not seen people in my practice with clinical signs of deficiencies that would cause issues that require IV infusions, and there are only a handful of conditions — such as celiac and certain types of Crohn’s disease — that may impede the absorption of nutrients from foods and supplements.”
Still, fans say the benefits are noticeable and instantaneous. You might say they’re going with the flow.