Cara and Rihanna are fans but are vitamin injections any good for you? Peta Bee gets the lowdown...
What to do when you’re run ragged and partied-out? Celebrities and stressed high flyers have uncovered a short-cut solution to overcoming problematic fatigue, an elixir of vitamins delivered directly to the bloodstream that they believe maintains a dewy complexion and boosts their sagging energy.
For the likes of Rihanna, Rita Ora and Cara Delevingne, an intravenous shot of vitamins, delivered with saline water via a drip, has become as de rigeur as a regular facial or manicure. Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Katy Perry are also reported to be fans of the treatment which carries all sorts of reputed benefits from dispelling toxins to aiding digestion and boosting libido.
In LA and New York, IV vitamin lounges are opening with almost as much frequency as juice bars. Boosted by the healthy promises and the fact that it’s a treatment that can be carried out conveniently in your lunch hour, walk-in drip bars are now cropping up in the UK, some offering a cocktail-style menu of nutrients that can be fed via a needle and tubes to instantly address overindulgence, work stress or exhaustion.
With most people requiring more than a one-off shot and at anything from £199 to £325 per 20 to 60 minute drip depending on the mix you require, it’s considerably more expensive than your regular jar of multivitamins. But is it worth it?
What does it involve? As much as it’s a medical procedure (IV nutrient drips were developed for cancer patients and are widely used in hospitals to treat premature babies and the malnourished), the emphasis is very much on indulgence and relaxation. After filling in a lengthy medical consultation form (mine, at EF Medispa in Kensington, London took 30 minutes to complete), you then choose the nutrient mix that best meets your requirements. Depending on the drip lounge you visit, expect to be reclining in a massage chair or on a therapist’s couch while a nurse administers a needle and cannula (the uncomfortable bit) before hooking you up to the drip bag. At Reviv Hydration Spas in Manhattan, Miami and LA, you get to watch a flat-screen TV or surf the web on iPads while you drip.
Where to go? Celebrities are popping into Drip & Chill bars at EF Medispa , the first in the UK to offer a comprehensive cocktail bar menu of products by vitamindrip, the intravenous specialists who are the favourite of the rich and beautiful. There’s everything from a Detox Drip (containing glutathione, B12 and vitamin C “to repair and increase the body’s metabolism” to a Brain Health option (with an infusion of ‘cholines’, substances that provides brain boosting chemcials) on offer, each tailored to your specific needs following a consultation with your drip nurse. The original vitamindrip is also available at Elements Medispa in Doncaster and you can pick and mix your nutrients at the Nosh Infusion Clinics in Chelsea, Marylebone and, soon, Guildford.
Good idea? Proponents claim the approach works wonders because it bypasses the digestive system meaning it’s less taxing on the stomach and the intestines than consuming the same nutrients orally. That’s debatable and many experts think it simply won’t help in the long term. Louise Sutton, a dietician at Leeds Beckett University, says there are risks, including bruising, to an IV therapy and “there really is no evidence that these drips are beneficial in the long term for ordinary, healthy people”.
How often? Esther Fieldgrass, founder of EF Medispa says this depends entirely on the individual. “One drip might be enough if you are mildly dehydrated and deficient in a nutrient,” she says. “However most people require a course of 3-6 and at a frequency of no more than one every 7 days.”
Most converts opt for frequency. Simon Cowell reportedly has a weekly IV drip to boost his health containing B vitamins, magnesium and vitamin C. However, nutrition expert Ian Marber says he can see no reason why more than one would be necessary. “I’m not really in favour of them at all,” he says. “However, one might help to top up deficiencies, but more isn’t better as the body simply excretes excess vitamins that it doesn’t need.”
Worth it? The crunch question is whether it actually works. I tried the Mood Booster drip at EF Medispa and, on a scale of spa-style relaxation, found it nearer to a sports massage than a facial. My arm ached as the drip did its thing, something my nurse had warned night happen as the sugary-thickened water entered my bloodstream. Afterwards I slept well (but always do) and indeed felt as bright as a button the next morning when I got to my desk (unusual). Fieldgrass says many people report feeling happier, livelier and having more clarity of thought, none of which I can honestly say hit me in the hours that followed. Still, it was sufficiently boosting to trigger me to book a further session which, I suppose, speaks volumes in itself.