Drip tease: IV clinics are springing up across the Denver metro area

“I think this will be very mainstream soon just because people are realizing the benefits of it and how easy it is to just spend $90 or a $100 once a month to keep your body at the optimum level,” said Shankar Ramakrishnan, one of the owners of Innovative Body Recovery in Parker.

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AURORA | The latest wellness trend has fitness aficionados lining up to sit down and experience the slow drip of potential health benefits infused into their bloodstream.

Throughout the metro area, there has been a proliferation of mobile and brick and mortar IV clinics, where a person can get intravenous infusions of saline and various cocktails of vitamins and minerals.

The treatments are a common site at Las Vegas casinos where gamblers and revelers use it as a way to recover from hangovers and have been popping up in shows featuring members of the Kardashian clan. These cocktails can range from just under $100 to more than $200 depending on the ingredients.

But while some fads like oxygen bars have gone up in smoke, practitioners and store owners of these hydration bars believe they’re on the cutting edge of what will become a standard way to maintain health.

“I think this will be very mainstream soon just because people are realizing the benefits of it and how easy it is to just spend $90 or a $100 once a month to keep your body at the optimum level,” said Shankar Ramakrishnan, one of the owners of Innovative Body Recovery in Parker.

Ramakrishnan said one of the appeals of IV treatments is that people are tired of going to the doctor’s office to get a pill to treat ailments. Instead, many people are looking for alternatives to help maintain their health and prevent illness. And while the initial surge the industry has seen due to celebrity endorsements on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram might die off, he said he believes this form of preventative health will not fade like other fads.

While the industry might eventually see a downtick in sales, as of right now the business is continuing to trend up. Kristy Anderson, co-founder and chief of operations at Onus iV Hydration in Denver, said her shops have seen annually increases in sales since it opened almost three years ago.

Anderson said she and her husband decided to open up Onus iV after receiving an infusion at a mountain bike race they were both competing in. The results were so dramatic that the two decided to investigate the possibility of opening up their own business.

“The business has been great. In 2017 we saw over 200-percent sales growth (from the previous year) and we’re on track for 120-percent sales growth this year,” Anderson said. “One thing that really solidifies any business is to solve a solution to a problem. I can think of one fad, oxygen bars, that was offering a really temporary solution. The difference here is this really works … It really does make you feel that much better. It’s a miracle in how you can feel that much better instantly.”

While patrons keep coming back for treatments, there are not many real studies confirming the benefits of non-medical IV therapies. On a website for IV clinics across the city and country, a disclaimer that the benefits touted by the treatments haven’t been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. And while the chances of side effects are extremely small, IV’s aren’t completely risk free. According to Columbia University in New York City, complications can range from severe bruising to an air embolism.

“Regarding efficacy, regardless of cause, hydration will generally help those who are dehydrated feel better. The value of other interventions, such as high-dose vitamin therapy, may be generally less clear and warrant further discussion, considering an individual’s particular medical history,” said Dr. Devin Bateman, Parker Adventist Hospital’s chief medical officer, in an email exchange. “For a consumer, an IV clinic could provide access to specific medical services at a convenient time, and in a convenient location.  Whether there is value and an experience worth the cost, is up to each person to decide.”

The efficacy of the treatments is still subject to debate. According to one study by a group at the Yale School of Medicice of the Myers’ cocktail, a popular IV treatment, on a group of patients with fibromyalgia, both the control group and the group that received the vitamin injection reported they felt better. The finding suggests the placebo effect for IV treatments is extremely prevalent.   

Dr. Benjamin Wilks, chief medical officer for Onus iV, said there hasn’t been much research into the benefits of IV treatments in part because it isn’t a multi-billion dollar industry like many pharmaceuticals. “I’ve received numerous treatments, and it’s a noticeable change,” Wilks said. “There something to this. There’s not a lot of research in this field, in part because there’s not a lot of money in it. This isn’t big pharma. It could all be a placebo. But as we continue to move forward and people want to take more charge of health and wellness, it goes beyond a trend. It allows people to take control of their own health.”