The Vitamin Drip is no longer the domain of sterile hospitals and doctors’ rooms. They’ve moved out of the harsh glare of medical care and into the warmth of the wellness scene. You can now walk into an IV Bar and order a mix of vitamins off a menu, sit down with a cup of tea and have it delivered to your bloodstream via an intravenous drip.
The IV Bar, located in the medical suites of the Bluebird Shopping Centre in Melrose, Johannesburg, is nestled among bright white doctors’ waiting rooms. They offer an assortment of vitamin cocktails, each targeted to a different need.
The IV Bar resembles a cosy coffee store more than a medical suite. Decorated in warm colors with plush couches, foot stools, coffee tables and a complimentary coffee and drink station, The IV Bar has taken a sterile medical treatment and turned it into a wellness experience.
Founder Keri Rudolph had been getting IV drips for years and loved the results they gave her. But she wanted to create a better experience. A place you didn’t have to pre-book an appointment or sit on an uncomfortable chair while dripping. Where you could walk in when you are feeling low energy, hungover or just in need of a little R&R. A place you could order the vitamin cocktail you wanted, and have it administered while lounging on a couch, coffee in one hand, magazine in the other – or browsing the web with complimentary Wi-Fi access.
Keri opened The IV Bar in the beginning of 2018 with a vision to make IV vitamin Drips mainstream and focus on preventative healthcare. She started next door to her current location, in a small room in a shared office. She quickly outgrew that space and relocated next door, getting the chance to create a complete 360 wellness experience. From the moment you walk in the doors of the IV Bar, to relaxing in one of the couches feet up, to the gentle touch of the qualified nurses. You’re not just getting a vitamin drip; you’re getting an experience.
The Vitamin Drip Experience at The IV Bar
Keen to find out more and see if the drips really worked, Feige and I made our way to The IV Bar on a Wednesday morning. If you’re questioning whether people really go for vitamin drips, the answer is yes. In the hour we were there – in the middle of the week, mid-morning, we counted 6 other people who had come in for a drip.
We overheard a lady chatting to the receptionist about the mix of drips she wanted next time, and how many drips she had to go before her complimentary free one. Keri says they’re not addictive but admits that one of the most common questions clients ask her, is how often they can do it. She recommends ideally once a month, but every 2 weeks if you’re under a lot of stress or travel a lot. The second most often question is if they can combine drips – the answer is yes.
The IV Bar offers 9 different customized intravenous (IV) vitamin drips that maximize health, performance recovery, and wellness. There’s a drip for energy, immune boost, jetlag and hangovers, fertility, sports recovery, detoxing, skin and anti-inflammatory autoimmune.
Why would you choose to get your vitamins by drip instead of a pill? According to Keri, when taking vitamins orally you’re only getting 20-30% absorption. It goes through your digestive system, which for some people causes negative side effects. Intravenously it gives you 100% absorption. It bypasses your digestive system going directly into your bloodstream and allows you to take in a higher dose.
I chose the Sports Endurance and Recovery Drip in a larger bag (more saline and electrolytes); whilst Feige opted for Anti-inflammatory Auto Immune drip in a smaller bag. Keri explained that the difference between the sizes is that the larger bag contains more saline and electrolytes and takes longer to administer (45 minutes on average). The smaller bag is essentially just pure vitamins and takes on average 15 minutes to administer. There is no price difference, so it’s a matter of how much time you want to spend dripping and if you want some added hydration.
After filling out paperwork with medical and personal details, we grabbed a drink and headed to the lounge area. The IV Bar can accommodate up to 12 people at a time, with 2 semiprivate cubicles for people who want a spot of privacy. One of the qualified nurses took our temperatures and blood pressure before starting. When asked if anyone has been turned away, Keri says no, vitamin drips are completely safe to do unless you are pregnant (there is not enough evidence on the effects of this quantity of vitamins on a fetus) or have a severe kidney dysfunction. The entire process is done by registered nurses with stellar bedside manners. The vitamins (schedule 4), are prescribed by a Doctor, who is on call in the event she is needed.
You would have thought that opting to go for an IV drip, one would realize it involves needles. Yet it was only the night before that both Feige and I zeroed in on that we would be getting a needle put in our arms. It is important to note that I don’t like needles and don’t take them particularly well.
Keri suggests those who are traumatized by needles shouldn’t do it. If needles make you uncomfortable 1. Look away and 2. Let the nurses know so they’ll cover it up so you can’t see. It turned out the process of getting hooked up was almost painless. They use a very thin needle to pierce the skin and only a thin straw remains inside your arm. It was a tiny prick, followed by a cooling sensation as the IV fluids entered my bloodstream. As someone who hates needles, it wasn’t traumatic or painful.
As I felt the vitamins trickle into my bloodstream, Keri explained what was in the IV drip. Before doing any kind of vitamin drip, I strongly suggest you know exactly what they’re putting in it. It is after all going straight into your bloodstream and you want to make sure there’s nothing that you’re allergic to. While they do ask for allergies in the form you fill out, you may forget about a vitamin that doesn’t react well with you. The IV Bar is transparent about where they get their vitamins from (I was shown the actual sealed bottles). They also tell you what goes into each drip and they are happy to remove Vitamins you don’t want in.
The sports endurance and recovery drip is made up of Vitamin B12 and B complex vitamins, magnesium and glutathione.
Vitamin B12 and B complex vitamins help with endurance, reduce fatigue, increase energy levels and concentration. They also help with relaxation and mood. They’re good for stress management, anxiety, depression and clearing brain fog.
Magnesium helps with re-hydration, cramps, joint and muscle pain. It helps reduce inflammation and aid sleep. Magnesium is also good for migraines, auto-immune diseases, night cramps and post-op recovery.
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and anti-toxin. It increases energy and endurance and strengthens the immune system, detoxes by eliminating toxins. Glutathione helps with skin by reducing pigmentation, acne, eczema, scars, stretchmarks and improves skin tone. It slows down the aging process and reduces inflammation, muscle aches and chronic soreness. It also enhances the positive effects of other vitamins and minerals.
The saline solution is made up of electrolytes and sodium chloride and it helps with re-hydration. Hydration is one of the keys to recovery which also helps with energy levels and bodily function.
The Anti-inflammatory/ Autoimmune Drip, is almost identical to the sports endurance and recovery drip. The difference is that it includes a high dose of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is great for inflammation. It helps you sleep better and prevents you from getting sick. It is also anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Keri suggested that if you’re allergic to magnesium to take Vitamin C instead to aid recovery.
As to the most popular drip on their menu? Surprisingly it’s not the hangover recovery drip but rather the Jet Fuel. The all in one drip with loads of Vitamin C.
After 45 minutes, my drip was done and a nurse deftly removed it, placing a plaster over the tiny incision. I made the mistake of looking while it was being removed and just about passed out at the sight of the drip in my arm and a spot of blood coming out. I’m not dramatic at all. Hours later the only evidence of a drip on my arm was a tiny red dot where the IV drip was – no bruises. Feige left her plaster on till the next day and was left with small raised bumps where the plaster had adhered to her skin. Possibly a reaction to the plaster’s adhesive. She also had no bruises and the incision was barely noticeable. Keri credits her nurses for being brilliant at finding veins at inserting and removing the IV Drips smoothly and relatively pain free.
The After Effects
As I had had the larger drip, Keri warned me that I may find myself using the bathroom more frequently as I had had a lot of fluid. But she countered, I would not be losing vitamins. “We are not in the business of making expensive pee”. Truth be told I don’t think it changed the frequency of urination, only the colour for me (sunset pink/orange) and smell for Feige (vitamin-like).
For the first few hours I felt unusually peppy. Whether that was the vitamins or a placebo effect, it is hard to tell. Feige and I both felt energy dips late afternoon, but they appeared to pick up and we were back to normal energised levels by the evening.
Feige woke up the next morning glowing. Literally. The day after that her skin was even brighter. After weeks of battling inflammatory skin issues, she felt her skin was clearing up and looking amazing. So amazing she went shopping sans makeup, which if you know Feige is a HUGE DEAL. I only looked closely at my skin after Feige mentioned herself glowing and whilst it was nice and clear, it didn’t have the same glow. The one thing that Feige had that I didn’t, is Vitamin C. Vitamin C is found in some skincare. Her skin is still glowing a week later.
I didn’t notice a huge difference in energy levels or sleep but had no negative side effects. Despite the initial peppiness, it didn’t translate into clarity, focus and energy.
What I did feel, or more specifically my body felt, was that I had had a rest day. The day before doing the drip I struggled through a speed run and had to push to keep pace. The morning after the drip I attempted another speed run. Whilst it was by no means an effortless run and required a slightly slower pace than the one before the drip, it didn’t feel like I was struggling to keep the correct pace. Two days after the drip, a Friday, I ran 10km. Fridays are generally the slowest runs of the week for me. It’s partially because they’re a group social run, but mostly because by Friday, after a week of training my body is tired and my legs feel heavy and I feel that in my run.
I was by no means floating or crushing times, but it was the easiest Friday run I’ve done in a long time. It was the best my legs have felt on a Friday. Having done nothing else different but a vitamin drip, my conclusion is that the effect that the Sports Endurance and Recovery Vitamin Drip had on me was similar to the effects a rest day has . My body felt less tired and my runs felt a bit easier.
Would we do it again?
I struggle to see the difference in effect between having a rest day and doing a drip. When it comes to doing a drip for recovery, I’ll most likely opt for a rest day with perhaps some foam rolling instead of a drip. If you can’t take a rest day or have an incredibly heavy training load, it may work well in helping you cope better. Alternatively, if you have a big race coming up and are feeling pap, it may put that pep back into your step. Keri suggests doing them 3 days before an event for maximum benefit.
What we both would consider repeating is a drip for skin. Feige had a noticeable result in her skin after the drip. She says if her skin has a flare up again, she would sooner do a drip than a facial treatment. Skin issues are indicative of what is happening internally in the body. Inflammation particularly will show up on your skin, so treating it inside is the way to go. Also, as a treatment before an event or when your skin is looking particularly dull, either the anti-inflammatory drip or skin radiance drip could be what gives your skin extra brightness, an inner glow if you will.
I have heard great things about the hangover drip as well. I am told it’s the one drip where results are felt immediately. If you’ve had a heavy night and want a quick pick me up, you may want to give it a shot. Although if you find yourself doing a hangover drip often, you may want to question your lifestyle.
What to know Before Getting a Vitamin Drip
The first thing to remember when doing a voluntary vitamin drip is that it is supplementary. It should not be done instead of healthy habits i.e. eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep. Do those things first and then perhaps do a Vitamin Drip as a supplement, when you need that extra dose of vitamins.
Secondly, know why you’re doing it and what you hope to get out of it. Are you looking to boost recovery, your immunity or improve your skin? Knowing what you want out of it goes hand in hand with understanding what goes into the vitamin drip and why. Ask questions and find out what they’re putting into the IV Drip bags before doing it. It’s your body and you should know what you’re putting into it. Especially when it comes to vitamin drips claiming benefits.
Vitamin Drips cost between R685 and R1100. To find out more about the IV Bar and the drips they offer click here.
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.