Simply hearing the word “needle” or catching a glimpse of one can make many people cringe or even begin to feel faint. For many patients receiving medical care, one of the most common fears is getting an IV, the intravenous catheter that allows fluids and medicines to flow into the veins. Often inserted into the arm or hand, the catheter (a hollow plastic tube) remains in the vein while the needle is removed, and a machine steadily pumps fluids through a tube and into the bloodstream.
While this might not be the most pleasant picture for some people, according to Harvard Health Publishing, IVs are often needed “when the digestive system isn’t working well, to receive more fluids than you’re able to drink, to receive blood transfusions, to get medication that can’t be taken by mouth and for a host of other treatments.”
However, it might come as a surprise that many people today are actually receiving IVs voluntarily — even when it isn’t medically necessary or recommended by a doctor. A relatively new trend, IV therapy is the infusion of vitamins, minerals and nutrients directly into the vein, providing immediate and effective treatment for dehydration, inflammation, vitamin deficiencies, fatigue, allergies and a number of other illnesses as well. Over the past few years, IV therapy lounges and mobile IV clinics have been popping up around the Austin area, offering specialty blends of vitamins and nutrients, sometimes personalized for each client’s needs.
Jordan Cobb, co-founder and CEO of IVitamin, says she and her business partner, Jana Gavin, got the idea to open their IV therapy spa after visiting one while they were on vacation about four years ago. With Cobb’s background in medical sales and Gavin’s as a pharmacist, the two decided to team up and open a brick-and-mortar location on the corner of South Congress and Riverside. This was three years ago, when the trend was just beginning to make its way into the health and wellness scene, and the duo knew Austin was the perfect place to kick-start their business.
“Austin is already a very health-focused, health-oriented location, so we thought it would be the perfect concept to bring to this city,” Cobb says.
Unlike getting an IV at a hospital, IV therapy lounges offer spa-like experiences, where customers can sit back, relax and let the IV do its work. While being stuck with a needle might have once been an unpleasant experience, these lounges have turned it into a luxury for your wellness regimen.
“We’re really trying to create the experience of escaping the busy day,” Cobb says. “With lifestyles as they currently are, no one is getting the recommended diet, exercise or sleep that we all intend and strive to, but unfortunately, with lifestyles being as busy as they are and people taking on more than they ever have, you know, some of those areas usually tend to give, and people come depleted. So, that’s where IV therapy comes into play.”
The concept of IV therapy all started with the work of John Hopkins physician Dr. John Myers, who concluded that people don’t absorb all vitamins and minerals through digestion. In the 1960s, he developed the Myers’ Cocktail, an intravenous vitamin infusion designed to enhance the immune system, reduce fatigue, help with seasonal allergies and reduce symptoms of asthma and fibromyalgia. According to his work, many illnesses are associated with digestive disturbances that inhibit the absorption of necessary vitamins and nutrients, so the Myers’ Cocktail works by increasing the blood concentration of these essential vitamins and nutrients beyond the level that is attained when supplementing orally.
“Most literature states that when you take supplements orally, by the time it passes through the gut and digestive system, you only absorb about 20 percent,” says Cobb. “So, going via IV is the superior pathway. So, all the vitamins and minerals and nutrients that are in that IV bag you’re going to get instantly, straight through the bloodstream and at 100 percent absorption.”
While IV clinics are often advertised as “hangover cures,” Cobb says this is not IVitamin’s main focus. With nine different IV cocktails on their menu, IVitamin provides IV therapy for a variety of purposes, ranging from diet detox to anti-aging to athletic recovery and regeneration, Cobb says.
“We are really an adjunct for people’s wellness regimens,” Cobb says. “A lot of people don’t know that, as they age, they can still feel good…Well, there are things out there that you can be doing that are natural that are going to help you feel like you used to.”
However, just like many health trends, IV therapy begs the question of legitimacy. While sessions only last 30-45 minutes, each IV drip can range from $100 to $300. Some skeptics may wonder, is it really worth the cost? And is it sustainable for long-term health?
Ashley Hall, RN, MSN, CNL, says no, in her opinion.
“The best route for hydration is the most natural route of consuming liquids and nutrients: orally,” Hall says. “…While it might help expedite your recovery from a nasty hangover by a few hours, your best bet (and wallet saver) is going to be achieved through drinking water and/or electrolytes instead.”
According to Pittsburgh-native Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, D.C., while the vitamins and nutrients used in IV therapy are healthy, they can potentially become detrimental if given at a higher dosage than is necessary. Every person’s biochemistry is unique, and IV supplements can become dangerous if you aren’t sure exactly what your body needs, so it’s important to consult with a doctor and figure out what your vitamin deficiencies are and what your ideal dose should be before diving into IV therapy.
Additionally, skeptics argue that IV supplements are not designed as a long-term solution for a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle. According to Cole, if the systematic function issues within the body are fixed, then you can increase your likelihood of absorbing these vitamins and nutrients from whole, healthy foods, thus making IV therapy unnecessary.
Regardless of the doubts that may come with IV therapy, it’s clear that many Austinites are totally on board and willing to give it a try. Cobb says IVitamin has already done over 20,000 IVs at this point — safely, successfully and effectively.
However, if you’re interested in trying out IV therapy, it’s important to do your research and talk with your doctor to see if it’s right for you. Make sure the clinic you’re attending is reputable and monitored by a medical doctor, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Whether you’re an advocate or a skeptic of IV therapy, don’t be shocked to find IV therapy clinics popping up around the area. With the enormous growth of health and wellness trends, especially in Austin, it’s not a surprise that IV fluids on demand are among the options.
“I think it’s going to be a growing concept, just because, as the education grows, more people are going to understand the ease of being able to do it and to feel better,” Cobb says, “That’s what it’s all about, right? To feel better, to live your best life.”
Paragon Austin Infusion Center
720 West 34th Street, Suite 225
Drip Drop IV Vitamin Bar
3944 Ranch Road 620 South, Building 6, Suite 103
2700 Bee Cave Road, #120
Restore Hyper Wellness + Cryotherapy
4301 W. William Cannon Drive, Building B, Suite 146
3930 Bee Caves Rd Ste F,
West Lake Hills
La Vie En Rainey
51 Rainey Street Suite 150