On a recent Sunday morning, after a night spent celebrating a friend’s birthday, the cure for my sluggish state came in the form of a young nurse standing on my doorstep in scrubs, with a pole sticking out of her giant backpack. Within a few scant minutes, I was relaxing in my comfy living room chair with a needle in my arm, vitamins and electrolytes pumping into my veins.
The delivery drip service was provided by The Hangover Club, one of the new companies bringing IV vitamin therapy—a treatment formerly reserved for celebs and those with a pretty serious discretionary medical budget—to the masses. It’s being marketed as a treatment for hangovers, yes, but it can also help banish the flu, jet lag, and a slew of other health issues. And it’s becoming crazy trendy.
“It’s gotten very popular over the last couple of years because a lot of celebrities are doing it, and people get really great results from it,” says John Salerno, MD, an integrative physician who offers 31 different IV protocols (hangover not included) at his Upper East Side practice and in his patients’ homes.
Chrissy Teigen, for example, recently posted an Instagram of herself getting a vitamin IV drip in bed. On New Year’s Day, The I.V. Doc helped Neil Patrick Harris re-hydrate and also offered B12 IVs to riders at Cyc Fitness. And Olympic athlete Apolo Ohno recently tapped The Hangover Club for an energy boost via its Nutridrip treatment.
So why are so many people signing up to be stuck with a needle? And what’s the IV bag got that coconut water doesn’t?
The IV cure
If you talk to any nurse, physician, or military medic, they’ll tell you that insiders have been taking advantage of the rehydrating effect of IVs for a long time. “It’s a little trick that medical professionals have used for ages, when you have that night out and need to be on point at work,” says Adam Nadelson, MD, a surgeon who founded The I.V. Doc in January 2014 in Manhattan and now offers in-home treatments throughout New York City and Long Island, with seven new cities launching soon.
It’s also an effective method of administering vitamins to patients, according to top integrative physicians like Dr. Salerno and Dr. Jeffrey Morrison. When taking vitamins orally, Dr. Salerno says, high doses can be very hard on your stomach. Absorption can also be a big challenge, and an IV drip helps. “Vitamins administered intravenously don’t get metabolized by your liver, so they’re absorbed directly into the bloodstream and tissues,” he explains. He has cocktails of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that he recommends for everything from arthritis to anxiety.
From hangover helper to health booster
Many concierge IV companies started by focusing on the bachelor party market (using varying combos of the hydrating saline-sugar Lactated Ringer’s solution, vitamins, and anti-nausea and pain medications). As they’ve grown, they’re expanding to place more emphasis on those battling common ailments like the flu, fatigue, and jet lag. It’s like the concept behind your favorite green juice recipe, on steroids.
“The Hangover Club was the first step, and our next launch will be Nutridrip,” says Asa Kitfield, who created The Hangover Club in September 2014 with integrative MD Maurice Beer (yes, that’s really his last name). “We’ve put together some health- and wellness- boosting protocols: high-dose vitamin C, glutathione pushes. We’ll make really cutting edge stuff that’s been hidden in integrative medical offices available to the masses.”
Meanwhile, The I.V. Doc has been headed in that direction for some time, says Dr. Nadelson, and you can currently choose from a long menu of protocols for flu, fatigue, and even healthier skin.
Is this the Seamless for IV vitamins?
Another big change is accessibility. Companies want to use technology to make getting a energy-boosting IV after a red-eye flight as easy and painless (minus the prick) as calling an Uber.
The Hangover Club says they can send you a nurse within 45 minutes of booking online within Manhattan, and my nurse was super quick and efficient once she arrived. You answer some basic medical questions, sign access to your veins away on an iPhone, and just sit back, with the whole thing clocking in at under an hour. As for the effects, I definitely felt more energetic and my brain was less foggy (though it wasn’t a mind-blowing transformation).
On top of that, most of the treatments will cost you around $200, which is a definite discount compared to seeing a holistic MD, but still way pricier than a cup of black coffee and some Advil… —Lisa Elaine Held
(Photos: Instagram/ChrissyTeigen, The Hangover Club)