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It is easy to see why people would think of intravenous (IV) therapy as a skin tonic or trendy pick-me-up, with the likes of Kim Kardashian extolling its virtues on the red carpet. Adding to this ‘faddish’ perception is a proliferation of non-medical clinics offering IV therapy, with a menu of services to order from, as if you were at a restaurant. However, IV therapy has a more serious side – there are a huge range of applications that not many know about, including treating heart disease and chronic fatigue syndrome. In addition, experienced physicians offer personalized IV treatments under safe medical conditions with all the necessary blood work and analysis carried out beforehand.
How does it work?
The main benefit of IV therapy, as opposed to swallowing a pill or supplement, is that it carries vital ingredients straight into the bloodstream. It is the fastest and safest way to get minerals, amino acids and other therapeutic ingredients into your body. It can circumvent issues with oral administration, including stomach upset, absorption issues, and loss of potency, to deliver 100% absorption of the ingredients.
The benefits can include cellular repair, accelerated recovery, making up for nutritional deficiencies and addressing certain health conditions. There are formulations for specific issues such as gut healing, correcting cellular metabolism, and immune system boosters, which can be tailored to your specific needs. IV chelation therapy can help rid the body of heavy metals, and ongoing studies have shown it effective in treating heart disease and diabetes.
Novomed’s Canadian-trained naturopathic physician Dr Heather Eade is a great proponent of IV therapy and points out, for example, that it is an important component in treating chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. However, she cautions that patients should not be self-diagnosing. For efficacy and safety, the treatment should be targeted to their concerns. She explains that a physician will consider your medical history, other medications you are taking that could interact with the IV ingredients, and administer blood tests where necessary. For high doses of vitamin C, screening for G6PD deficiency as the dosage could affect your red blood cells, as are blood tests for kidney functioning, which are also needed for chelation.
General practitioner at Novomed, Dr Randa El-Tawil, says she usually recommends IV therapy to her patients who have diabetes, heart disease and atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, hair loss and cirrhosis. She says it’s also very important for patients who have had weight-loss surgery, such as gastric bands or bypasses, as they often complain of dehydration, fatigue and vitamin deficiencies. She emphasizes the importance of vetting the clinic beforehand as a poorly placed IV needle could lead to complications such infiltration (fluid getting into tissue), hematoma (blood getting into tissue) and air embolism (air bubbles get into veins).
Aside from treating specific medical conditions, personalized treatments to boost energy and general wellbeing are certainly beneficial, which explains their popularity, but the physicians point out that IV therapy shouldn’t be thought of as a license for poor nutrition and lifestyle habits.