You may have read that one of the biggest trends in wellness at the moment is IV vitamin therapy, which is when people who are feeling unwell, exhausted or wrung out go for tailor-made treatments at specialist clinics. Converts say that the effects are immediately felt and they leave forty minutes after entering a clinic at the end of their tether bursting with energy, as well as free from brain fog and depression.
We asked the founder and medical director of IV Boost UK, Dr Joshua Berkowitz, who is a certified doctor, registered on the General Medical Council, and has run a busy and successful aesthetic practice in London for many years, what are the benefits of IV therapy and whether it’s something that more of us ought to consider.
Here’s our interview with him.
What are the benefits of IV therapy?
“The benefits are numerous, but most importantly the individual/patient can get the nutrients that are required put directly into the body in adequate doses. A practitioner with experience will be able to adjust the IV infusion contents to give a wide range of vitamins and minerals so as to replenish the body’s stores. The first consultation and examination will reveal the signs and symptoms of the patient and this will often give clues as to what is needed. Of course, the doctor may use blood tests to establish levels of vitamins and minerals of particular interest. There are very many blood test available to the practitioner. However, these usually only used with very ill patients.
“Besides the contents of each infusion there is the saline liquid itself as well. The patient can be fully rehydrated when the infusion is done.”
How would we know when we might need to have some extra help? Are there mental and physical signs of deficiencies?
“Generally speaking, most patients in the western world do not really display the true and florid signs of the deficiency syndromes that are described in the older medical text books. However, as an example, many patients in the UK have very low levels of Vitamin D and it has recently been reported that some children in Scotland have displayed some of the early signs of Rickets. Many of the patients who come to have these IV infusions complain about a variety of very vague symptoms (though they look perfectly healthy) such as excessive tiredness, low physical stamina brain fog , loss of their “joie de vivre”, muscle cramps, poor sleep, poor memory etc. None of these patients show any clear signs of a specific deficiency but improve when they get the IV full spectrum of minerals and vitamins and selected amino acids.”
Which deficiencies are the most common? Do people walk around not realising they are deficient in say, B12?
“The most common deficiency is Vitamin D. Many good GPs are now recommending Vitamin D supplements to their patients taken orally and often taken with Omega 3 (6 and 9 too). Other common deficiencies are with the trace mineral elements such as magnesium, zinc and selenium.
“Most patients are not necessarily blatantly deficient but feel considerably boosted by their infusions which may contain iron, Vitamin B12 (in its various forms), the full Vitamin B range, Vitamin C, Coenzyme CQ 10, various selected amino acids, and various antioxidants like glutathione,which have compelling clinical evidence of being effective in chronic fatigue syndrome and enhancing the immunity system.
“A good clinic will have several protocols designed for different signs and symptoms.”
Can it be dangerous long-term having a vitamin deficiency?
“Many patients do walk around whose health is below par. Most do not realise how much better they could feel. However the onset of this lesser state starts and appears so gradually that most are unaware of their inferior condition. But maximal good health is a complex balance between good nutrition, a robust mental and social attitude and good physical fitness.
“The danger is that for some, poor health and hence poor performance leads to a diminished life. Can it be dangerous ?? Yes, in some circumstances it can be. You ask specifically about Vitamin B12. When this vitamin is low, the bone marrow will struggle to make perfect red blood cells. This will put some unreasonable stress upon a very active organ until in time megalocytic anaemia will occur. This will have many “knock-on“ effects including the gradual onset of profound tiredness.”
What is the process for a vitamin drip? Do we need to come every week: every month or just every few months? How long does it take and does it hurt?
“The time to have an infusion can, and will, vary from about 20 minutes to several (4 or more) hours. It depends upon what is in the infusion (contents) and the volume and rate of the fluid flow. This is naturally determined by the medical practitioner, taking into account the need for the infusion, contents selected, and the current health and condition of the patient. A patient with a heart condition or high blood pressure will need to be infused much more slowly than a robust young athlete. Also, if the infusion is part of a series to, for example, detox a patient for heavy metal toxicity, the medications used are only safe if given slowly and sometimes whilst the patient is carefully monitored by electronic medical equipment to ensure patient safety. This should always be the prime consideration.
“Note also that some clinics will do a vitamin push (loaded syringe directly into the vein). This saves time but it is not nearly as safe as an infusion or as hydrating.
“The infusions do not hurt. (but this is dependent upon the skills of the medical staff). Some clinics with lesser skills will resort to using intramuscular injections (I/M) as a way past the skills barrier. But this is a more painful route of administration and in many instances needs a large downward dose adjustment.
“How many you will need is dependent upon the reasons for wanting and needing the infusion. Generally once or sometimes twice a week is sufficient but for some an infusion every day may be required initially before slowing down to much less often.”
Are there things we can do at home? (Diet/exercise etc.)
“Yes! yes! yes! … things at home are paramount …
“No one should want to rely entirely on the infusions for their health. The basic principles and common sense should prevail. Good nourishing food, carefully prepared and plenty of exercise are still the mainstays of good health. People need to have a good “work-life balance” so that they can maintain their family and friends’ relationships and understand that emotional stress is a major cause of both mental and physical ill health.
“However, the IV infusions are an excellent way to maintain health as typically people who have very busy lifestyles, do not eat well, drink a bit too much alcohol, have lots of stress but enjoy it, are sexually active and generally have every good reason to live. They’re an excellent way to restore health as typically people who have been run down emotionally and have burn-out fatigue, have experienced a life changing event including childbirth and the aftermath, or come through chemo or radiation therapy or simply those who have let themselves slide and now wish to regain peak health.
“These are generalisations because we give IV infusions to patients from all walks of life and for a huge myriad of reasons that they seek this form of therapy including those who wish to shake-off recreational drug habits, excessive alcohol consumers and those who suffer the after effects of excess. There are infusions that may help women counteract thinning hair and there are regimens that may help those suffering from all types of chronic and often distressing medical conditions. The list is truly endless.
“But it must be remembered that the benefits accrued are slow to come and as with all biological systems takes time, experience and patience to achieve.”
Have you tried IV therapy? – Let us know in the comments below…