Ruminations

Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Health Quackery:  IV Vitamin Therapy,

"I don't know of the scientific basis for it -- it certainly hasn't blossomed in the main medical literature as a cure for 'whatever'. We have not seen that it's improved concentration. Nor has one seen athletes that claim that it's taken three seconds off their mile. All of these things would be tremendously important. In the absence of that, what are we left with?"
"Where is the clinical trial, and where are the data? Has anyone said, 'we'll give you saline or we'll give you a drip, and let's see what the difference is?"
"[Needles and drips] shouldn't be a substitute for not having your fruits and vegetables."
Dr. David Jenkins, nutrition expert, University of Toronto
Dr. David Jenkins of the University of Toronto's Department of Nutritional Sciences, says direct-to-the-bloodstream vitamins can't replace healthy lifestyle, healthy eating and regular exercise.

"[IV vitamin therapy] has this veneer of scientific legitimacy. There are legitimate situations where you would give vitamins intravenously, when people are severely sick and they can't absorb vitamins properly."
"This is not the kind of situation they're talking about here."
Tim Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in health law and policy, University of Alberta

"There is nothing high-risk here. We don't infuse anything that could reach toxicity levels quickly."
Frank Stillo, founder, chief executive officer, Vitamindrip, Ontario

"This notion of 'If you're run down and tired, come and get an IV infusion of water-soluble vitamins' makes no medical sense whatever."
"If you go into it thinking, 'I'm willing to spend $100 and I know it won't make me any healthier', fine. But I think most people think it is making them healthier."
"[Once you use up the amount you need, the rest end up getting filtered by the kidneys and peed out in urine."
Christopher Labos, cardiologist, epidemiologist, McGill University

Here is medical science in its rational understanding of the interaction between nutritional intake in a sensible diet and people's propensity to seek out quick fixes to their cavalier attitude toward what they actually put in their mouths. When nutritionists irritatingly address the issue of vitamins and minerals to be found in fresh fruits and vegetables people prefer to eat what they feel like eating, quality content be damned.

And then along comes yet another alternative, an option that will restore to the body missing the quantity of vital elements a person requires to remain healthy. IV vitamin therapy rides to the rescue. A Baltimore physician had a bright idea to inject vitamins and minerals directly into patients as "intravenous micro-nutrient therapy" four years ago. And it didn't take long before this innovation took off in popularity. The bandwagon effect.

Vitamin drips have become a popular option among the in-crowd touting alternatives to good nutritional intake as a solution for whatever ails one's nutrition-neglected body. From "elite executives" to "weekend warriors who train hard and play hard" and working mothers, Vitamindrip's "diet and detox" injection; vitamins C and B and amino acids; which the company claims can burn body fat and reduce hunger pangs has reached a high degree of popularity.

There are specialized clinics or spas where IV  treatment is offered in the United States and Britain. Canada is catching up, with IV therapy becoming the most popular services naturopaths put on offer. In Toronto there's the Adelaide clinic located in the financial district where an IV lounge can be found Clients can make their selection from a menu of injections; improved sports recovery and performance or "diet and detox".

In Vancouver, a 2,000 -square-foot lounge, The IV Wellness Boutique's decor includes reclining leather massage chairs, private theatres, wireless headphones and a great view. "People sit in the chair for about 45 minutes and receive their drip" Heidi Roots, naturopathic doctor and co-owner says, claiming to have been "astounded by the effects that I got from it" with patients. At only $100 per session, top-notch bargain!


Photo, The Drip Room
Dr. Jenkins, a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael Hospital, speaks of the blind faith that people place in short cuts to looking after themselves properly. The power of vitamin supplements needn't be proved scientifically to them; they're convinced that if a little bit of vitamin is good, a whole lot more can only be hugely beneficial. Vitamin injections fit readily into the "wellness" craze.

Most medical practitioners feel that the practise is harmless enough. The only caveat seems to be that the infusions, administered with a needle, may hold a small risk of infection. On the other hand, some Scandinavian studies link large amounts of folic acid and vitamin B12 over long periods, with a possible increased risk of certain cancers. The very people who take vitamin infusions via needles, would shrink in dismay at hypodermics delivering insulin daily to people with diabetes.

Vitamindrip, an Ontario company that styles itself the Canadian leader in intravenous micronutrient formulations recommends infusions be done once weekly for four to six consecutive weeks. This is the "loading phase". Which should be followed by a maintenance phase of less frequent injection. Business is business, after all, and the bottom line is an original investment by the client of $400 to $600 to ameliorate their dietary neglect, and $100 on a semi-regular basis thereafter.

The alternative, needless to say, and recommended by professor in nutritional sciences, Dr. David Jenkins, is a healthy diet.

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