by J.P. Saleeby, MD
A wildly popular medical service is popping up in areas all over the country. Drip Bars, infusion centers or IV Therapy Spas. The advertise heavily and target young college students and professions as a quick way to recover after a hard night drinking or partying. They offer everything from a liter of Normal Saline or Lactated Ringers solutions to “hydrate” you to more fancy combinations of what is called a Myers’ cocktail or high dose vitamin C. They promise to boost your wellness, athletic prowess and even help you recover from headaches and hangovers. Another flash in the pan wellness fad? Remember the Oxygen bars of a few years ago? You walk in and sit at a bar and instead of ordering a beer or a cocktail you place plastic tubing (nasal cannula) on your nose and inhale pure oxygen. That fad seems to have faded away giving rise to the latest drip bar craze.
Practicing integrative medicine since 1999 I have often prescribed IV therapies. Only in a focused clinical setting should these therapies be administered. It is semi-invasive as fluids move directly into the vein, bypassing some first line defenses against infection namely the skin. To a degree it is an unnatural way to administer nutrients and fluids and care must be taken when doing so. The natural way is administration by mouth (the alimentary track) and for a relatively healthy person that is the preferred way. Those too sick to take oral hydration and nutrients can opt for IV therapy.
My major concern is that drip bars don’t have the appropriate oversight and mistakes will be made. Administration of higher doses of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to a client who has a G6PD deficiency can lead to hemolysis of red blood cells resulting in an anemia and even death. Unsupervised and careless administration can have some undesirable consequences. I just fear that these quick start ups will ruin it for those careful and cautious practitioners who have done this for years in more ridged clinical environments.
One on the most common IV infusions is something referred to as the “Myers’ Cocktail” or the “Gaby-Wright Cocktail."
Dr. Alan R. Gaby introduced this therapeutic treatment to me at a conference I attended in 2001. Dr. Gaby as well as Dr. Jonathan V. Wright are both luminaries in the field of nutritional / integrative medicine and rediscovered the nutrient IV therapy first developed by Dr. John Myers of Maryland in the mid-20th century and then forgotten after his death until it was re-introduced about three decades ago. It is a mixture of relatively high doses of five vitamins and two minerals. Very often it is customized with varying doses of each agent and can also include Adrenal cortical extract (ACE), Glyceron (an extract from the licorice plant named glycerrhizin) and Glutathione (a potent antioxidant).
It is quickly (within 40 minutes) infused through an IV and in some patients the effects may last weeks.
The treatment is recommended and has been used with great success in treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Depression, Fibromyalgia, Asthma (both acute flair-ups and the chronic condition), Urticaria (hives), Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis, Chronic Sinusitis, Congestive Heart Failure, Ischemic Vascular Disease, Dementia, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Bronchitis, Interstitial Cystitis, Multiple Sclerosis and especially Acute Viral and Bacterial infections. I have used this therapy to recover people quickly from the flu (influenza A & B), acute Hepatitis A and B infections and Infectious Mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus). It has also been used to quicken the recovery phase in elite athletes in training and during competition. This therapy is also being used post- heavy metal chelation to replace the good minerals and trace elements lost in this therapy.
In recent years, it has become the mainstay of my Lyme (Borrelia) infection protocols. Helping folks with their Herxing reactions (healing crisis) to drug or supplement therapy while treating the tick-borne illnesses. It also helps bolster their immune system often hurt by those infections. We have also administered this therapy to folks leaving the country for a vacation and facing airplane travel and crowded airports that would place them at higher risk for acquiring an airborne infection.
In closing I would just warn that the new-found hype about the Myers and IV therapy has reached a pinnacle, it is very wise to have this type of therapy administered by those that use caution and have the experience and knowhow as to not cause problems. Despite the lower cost associated with “drip bars” that make them attractive one must remember you are getting what you pay for.
JP Saleeby, MD is medical director of Carolina Holistic Medicine and a Functional Medicine practitioner. He is a retired Emergency Room physician. For more visit www.CarolinaHolisticMedicine.com