There are no proven scientific theories on the anti-aging, skin care, hair care and weight loss benefits of IV drip therapy in non-urgent cases, experts told Al Arabiya English in an interview about the pandemic-spurred boom in interest for the therapy.
Several clinics in Dubai have been promoting IV drip therapy, claiming that it provides anti-aging, weight loss, immunity, haircare, skincare, and vitamin boosting benefits.
Al Arabiya English spoke to health experts in the Gulf country who explained whether IV drip therapy really does pose health benefits in non-urgent cases.
“There have been no proven theories mentioning the benefits of IV drip therapy for non-urgent cases. For any health-related problems, IV fluids are given to patients who are sick. We encourage drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy and balanced diet for patients,” Nutritionist Rola Fakhri al-Talafha from Bareen International Hospital in MBZ City, Abu Dhabi told Al Arabiya English.
Another nutritionist and clinic dietitian Juliot Vinola from Dubai’s Medeor Hospital said that IV nutrition therapy is exclusively used to treat “critically ill” patients of those with chronic diseases, when the body’s digestive tract becomes “sluggish,” and the absorption of nutrients is significantly affected.
“Inadequate intake of diet and water can cause nutrient deficiencies, dehydration and lead to fatigue and slow down recovery,” she explained.
Oral vitamins or IV therapy are usually prescribed to people with specific deficiencies such as the elderly, those who are unable to maintain a balance diet, have gut issues affecting digestion, have anemia, kidney or liver diseases, or those in intensive care, undergoing chemotherapy for cancer or dialysis, according to the health expert.
IV therapy no longer limited to hospitals
Stock image of a man lying down on an operating table with a needle in his hand connecting him to an IV drip. (Unsplash, Olga Kononenko)
“IV nutrition therapy is no longer used only in hospitals and now has boomed into the aesthetic industry especially post pandemic era during when vitamin supplements took the top shelves of any pharmacy claiming to boost immunity [and] lockdowns and work at home culture increased obesity, turning more people to focus on fad [or] stricter diets which further led to more nutritional deficiencies making people cognitively and physically more incapacitated and tired easily than before,” Vinola said.
She urged that IV nutrition therapy should at all means be prioritized to those in urgent medical care and treatment.
“One should always remember IV nutrition therapy is a temporary fix and in no ways can replace a balanced diet, good hydration and healthy lifestyle,” she added.
“Those in the media industry and celebrities who have a hectic schedule where healthy timely meals, hydration and sleep is not possible may benefit [from IV therapy] to compensate nutrition, [be] able to perform with sustained energy levels and uncompromised on nutrients for fresh and healthy skin,” Vinolia said.
Pros and cons of IV nutrition therapy
Vinolia insisted that IV therapy should not be administered without medical supervision and a prior blood test.
“It can lead to vitamin toxicity and mineral overload [which] affect the liver, kidneys and heart,” she said.
The experts urged people to not rely on supplements all the time because it is important for the gut to be active and be fed with fiber-rich foods, maintaining a nutritional diet.
“Hydration is important for our gut microbiome, the second brain in our body that affects your immunity and overall wellbeing and health,” Vinola said.
When asked if IV therapy was more effective than taking vitamins, al-Talafha told Al Arabiya English that it does ensure quicker results, which is very important in some severe cases such as vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
“IV therapy has faster results as one can ensure that the nutrients are absorbed by the body. Vitamins to be taken as prescribed by the doctors, if they any deficiency for any vitamin or minerals. They must do blood test to ensure they have deficiency before taking the medication,” said al-Talafha.
Vinolia echoed her sentiment, stating that it provided a “quick fix solution to get a boost of vitamins and hydration and feel instantly refreshed.”
It also corrects deficiencies at a faster rate than oral supplements which often take time to be absorbed in the body and it does not involve the digestive tract, which makes it “calorie free,” she added.