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Aug 21 2018

The Truth About IV Vitamin Drips

Offered by concierge doctors in LA as well as clinics in London, what do these drips really do?

collection of high vitamin fruit and vegetables falling into water
Vitamin drips have been coined ‘A celebrity beauty secret’ (Theilking, 2018)[i]. But just how effective is this therapy that has been spoken of so highly? 

Developed in the mid 1950’s and popularised in the early 2000’s (Dening, 2018)[ii] from the Hollywood epicentre, vitamin drips as a concept has spread globally and has become the latest trend amongst the elite. Concierge doctors in Los Angeles for example, offer these drips as a common add-on service to their membership. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton, Rihanna, Madonna and Geri Halliwell all claim to big fans of the treatment and have reportedly used them before performances boost energy or for a youthful glow before hitting the red carpet.

However, this reaction may just be a placebo as research and studies (Bilg, 2018)[iii] have shown.

What is a Vitamin drip?

The term “Vitamin Drip” is often used to refer to the admission of micronutrients intravenously. Micronutrients is a wide spread term used to describe Vitamins and Minerals which may cause deficiency if not taken in adequate amounts:

  1. Vitamins – Small complex organic substances required in the diet in small amounts when compared to other dietary components such as protein, carbohydrates and fats. A few you may recognise are Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K.
  2. Minerals – A class of inorganic substances also needed for the correct maintenance of bodily functions, such as magnesium sulphate, calcium gluconate and selenium to name a few.

The common Vitamins and Minerals given intravenously and their health promoting claims:

  • Vitamin C – to boost the immune system and fight the flu and viruses.
  • B vitamins – to help with attention, focus and energy.
  • Magnesium – to relax and support every cell of the body, and as a great supplement for athletic performance and recovery.
  • Zinc and selenium – to help support the thyroid, immune system and wound healing.
  • Amino acids – for enhanced brain health.
  • Glutathione – for anti-aging, anti-cancer, and even as a treatment and preventative nutrient for Parkinson’s disease.
Why are they so popular?

Throughout history intravenous therapies have mainly been limited to blood transfusions and for those with intestinal failure, meaning that they are unable to absorb these vitamins and minerals from their diet naturally.It wasn’t until the 1960’s, Dr John Myers had come up with a supposed treatment consisting of a ‘cocktail’ of micronutrients (Gaby, 2002)[iv]

However, in recent years, intravenous nutritional therapy is no longer reserved solely for the ill, but rather it is being marketed for a quick revitalising therapy for a feel good factor. With some clinics going as far to claim weight loss, anxiety reduction, anti-aging, and flu prevention. Suspiciously too good to be true for a one time 30-minute treatment to cure all!

The demand for IV vitamin drips has been rising, partially spurred by social media marketing techniques using celebrities to promote use through social media to their millions of followers.These clinics quote evidence establishing good outcomes to enhance sales, although when looking into these studies, outcomes are generally based on poor research and anecdotal subjective feelings (Gavura, 2018)[v].

It is evident that these reactions are likely to be a result of a placebo effect where the patient’s belief in the treatment leads them to a psychological benefit rather than a physiological one.

Overall, the majority of consumers are faced with misinformation and confusion as there are no solid studies to condone the use of IV vitamin and mineral use in healthy individuals.

Are there any potential harms of taking IV Vitamin drips?

Vitamin drips are not classified as medical treatments by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (UK), nor the Food and Drugs Administration (US),and for good reason. (National Cancer Institute, 2018)[vi]

Intravenous vitamin drips deliver vitamins and minerals directly to the bloodstream. IV treatments are generally more powerful than those given orally, such as the case when taking IV antibiotics, and the same is true for IV vitamins and minerals. This is because they bypass the intestinal tract where the amount absorbed into the bloodstream is regulated, resulting in higher than adequate levels being present in the bloodstream, and may potentially lead to toxicity.

For example, Kendal Jenner was recently hospitalised (Vogue, 2018)[vii]. Although side effects from the treatment are rare, the use of the treatment in healthy individuals seems to convey little to no benefit. This is primarily due to the the fact that when your body receives a high amount of vitamins or minerals in a single dose, the kidneys and the liver tend to filter out the majority of which is surplus to requirements. The bodily requirement for micronutrients is low and can be obtained in sufficient amounts through a balanced diet. It is important to note that not all vitamins and minerals will act this way, fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E, K are not readily excreted from the body and a build-up can possibly cause toxicity syndromes (which may also adversely affect foetuses in pregnant women).


While many clinics in London are adopting IV vitamin drips, few of these are regulated and not many are run by private doctors. There are also home visiting services offering these drips. Overall, it is important for patients to be aware of the possible positive and negative effects of IV vitamin drips. There are other options which may be safer in providing a refreshed, ‘placebo’ feeling such as vitamin shots. Regardless, it is a good idea to make sure that any IV drips are received in a clinical setting registered by the Care Quality Commission, and that a medically trained professional is at hand to prevent and respond to any adverse reactions.



[i] THIELKING, M. (2018). Vitamin IVs make bold health promises. But where’s the evidence?. [online] STAT. Available at:

[ii] Dening, J. (2018). Vitamin Drip Therapy: The Science Behind This Celebrity Beauty Secret. [online] Zwivel. Available at:


[iv]Gaby, A. (2002). Intravenous Nutrient Therapy: the “Myers’ Cocktail”. Alternative Medicine Review, 7(5), pp.389 – 403.

[v] Gavura, S. (2018). A closer look at vitamin injections. [online] Available at:

[vi] National Cancer Institute. (2018). High-Dose Vitamin C. [online] Available at:

[vii] Vogue. (2018). Kendall Jenner’s Health Scare Might Make You Think Twice About Getting Your Vitamins Intravenously. [online] Available at:


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