Over 30 years ago, when Dr. John Myers started administering an innovative mix of vitamins B and C as well as calcium and magnesium to patients to help them with their low energy levels and delicate immune systems, Kendall Jenner wasn’t even born yet. But the supermodel, who was hospitalized ahead of Sunday night’s Oscars for a bad reaction to a “Myers cocktail” vitamin IV drip, is living proof of just how mainstream the revitalizing therapy, which is now injected directly into the bloodstream intravenously, has become in recent years—ranking as highly among some celebrities as, say, microdermabrasion and acupuncture.
Chrissy Teigen gets them in bed at home. Adele has gotten them for a boost before a big performance. Goop maestro Gwyneth Paltrow swears by them. In New York and Los Angeles, boutique vitamin drip shops like Reviv and The IV Doc are in almost every neighborhood and offer house call services. There’s even one called The Hangover Club, which sends over a bag of saline and electrolytes to help ease off a night of excessive debauchery. Some visit IV docs to heal their dry and tired skin too. So how did Jenner end up in the hospital after getting her routine IV drip? The details have been kept quiet, but the episode goes to show that perhaps, despite the popularity of this vitamin craze, there is still much to be learned about the practice and specifically, about the quick fix “cocktail” aspect.
As Dr. Jonathann Kuo, an anesthesiology specialist and founder of Hudson Wellness in New York, explains of receiving a mixture of vitamins, “Some places check for specific vitamin deficiencies before an infusion, however most places do not.” Dr. Kuo also urges that “a complete medical history should always be taken before an infusion and reviewed with a medical professional (a nurse practitioner or ideally an M.D.) before an infusion.” Pulmonary history, cardiac history, and allergies should all be assessed with great care before someone is given an IV drip of blended vitamins. Also, Dr. Kuo notes that it is important to understand that “there are some vitamins and substances that react with each other. Glutathione, a strong antioxidant, for example, should not be mixed with other vitamins in a saline bag.” And, he adds, “One also has to be careful mixing fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Some vitamin mixtures are acidic or basic and infusions should ideally be pH-balanced.” That sounds like a lot of information to be sorted out for a seemingly simple procedure, especially when you consider that, according to Kuo, “most of the infusions are technically not medically necessary.”
In fact, a more-is-more approach can have serious consequences. According to Dr. Kuo, a patient should receive vitamin IV therapy once every two to four weeks at maximum. Any more than that can be dangerous. Dr. Habib Sadeghi of celebrity-favorite Be Hive of Healing in Los Angeles (he’s the man who gives Ms. Paltrow her drips, and the author of The Clarity Cleanse) agrees and also notes that “there is no one-size-fits-all vitamin IV in the way that they sell over-the-counter vitamins.” He adds, “Even after the initial IV is administered, subsequent blood tests must be performed because as the patient’s biology changes, the IV formulation should change to reflect improvements and/or other needs.” Dr. Sadeghi requires a preexamination that takes around 90 minutes. He also encourages patients to ask as many questions as possible about the types of vitamins being administered. “A person has every right and should ask where the vitamins in their IV were sourced,” he says. “Many people are obtaining injectable supplements from Mexico because they’re cheap and the sale requires no medical licensure—because of this, the procedures are often substandard.”
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