Nobody Asked Me But: Vitamin infusions a health topic battleground

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What’s with all this infusion confusion diffusing through the fitness training rooms and health spas of the nation these days? Have the forces of anti-aging and eternal wellness tapped into the latest “Fountain of Youth” mania to deliver yet one more chance to sidestep the inevitable?

Indeed, it appears that the sudden profusion of vitamin infusion technology is about to pave the way for instant health and well-being for anybody willing to shell out enough coin to keep those employed at the wrinkles and belly fat brigade at bay for a few more calendar pages. And if it can chase away a bad hangover, bonus!

You may have seen YouTube videos of celebrities like Miley Cyrus getting vitamin infusions (trying to somehow squeeze the IV needle into a vein hidden among a camouflaged background of extremely loud and distasteful tattoos). This obsessive trend, however, is not limited to rock stars and internet celebrities. Even for ordinary, past their “best before due date” plebs like yours truly, who are old enough to have learned how to drive before Neil Armstrong took a giant leap for mankind with the original moonwalk, vitamin infusion is not really a wholly new concept. It’s been around at least since the 1960s when Dr. John Myers, an internist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, came up with the idea that our digestive, absorptive and detoxification systems were just not good enough to supply all the nutritional needs our imperfect beings craved. He proposed that a mixture of essential nutrients, hence called the Myers’ Cocktail, could be “mainlined” or IVed into the bloodstream on a regular basis to enhance the overall performance level of our bodies and turn us into biologically more efficient machines.

In the half century since, the cocktail has become increasingly popular, especially among naturopaths worldwide, with soaring claims that the increase in metabolization acts as an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging agent, thus giving the recipients more energy and making them look younger. Instead of having to ingest vitamins A through Z in pill or powder form, as well as popping a myriad of minerals as supplements from every corner of the Periodic Table, a megadose infusion of the cocktail can do the job in a matter of 30 minutes to two hours a week (depending on the size of the vein and the volume of the cocktail).

Although it may vary from cocktail to cocktail, a typical highball vitamin infusion contains ascorbic acid, calcium gluconate 10%, dexpanthenol, hydroxobalamin, magnesium chloride, niacinamide, pyridoxine, riboflavin-5-phosphate sodium, and thiamine HCL in varying amounts and proportions. Don’t be surprised if reading this list triggers night sweats and induced deliriums hailing back to days gone by when you walked in to a Chem 12 exam room totally unprepared.

Of course, where you find supporters of vitamin infusions, you will also discover equal amounts of naysayers and detractors of this recent phenomenon. In fact, the U.S. health-based watchdog Quackwatch, which monitors medical related frauds, myths and fallacies, has found these vitamin infusion treatments to be, at best, highly questionable and the mainly anecdotal results likely attributable to the placebo effect. In addition, at between $150 to $500 a pop, the most visible sign seen by people who receive these treatments is probably how quickly their bank accounts decrease and disappear.

Nevertheless, the infusion cocktail is gathering steam and spreading across the globe. Established boutique clinics such as Vita Squad, The Drip Room and The Hangover Club, equipped with registered nurses, are proliferating in upscale urban neighbourhoods. Mobile IV vitamin clinic buses (I kid you not) trawl the downtown streets in search of unsuspecting wellness freaks with both bulging veins and wallets.

What’s next? Believe it or not, we already have mobile IV units doing “home” deliveries. Call it a whacked-out version of “IV Drips on Wheels” or the friendly, neighbourhood “Wellness Welcome Wagon”, technology is more than happy to come to you if you can’t get your ass out the door. It’s only a matter of time before we see drive through infusion lanes at local “fast fusion” franchises. With a little bit of imagination, you can visualize MacFusion competing for your cocktail dollar with IV King. Not far behind, the Colonel will be offering 11 secret herbs and spices . . . er . . . vitamins and minerals to make your taste buds come alive with a sense of well-being.

You’ll be able to choose from among 49 delicious flavours of cocktails at IV’s “R” Us or go next door to Pokey’s where the “Hole in 1” special offers you your own personal La-Z-Boy recliner with its 39 customized settings and an advertising slogan that promises “1 poke fits all!”

So what’s the verdict? To IV or not to IV? Are you going to get rid of all that unwanted fatigue and general disorientation in your life by keeping on a healthy, nutritional diet and getting plenty of exercise? If that doesn’t work to your satisfaction, are you willing to augment the overall results by ingesting a boatload of pills and powders while you lather your body with oodles of salves, creams and ointments?

Or, are you ready to take the newest route to eternal health and beauty by plopping your butt down in the La-Z-Boy recliner infusion throne for up to two hours per week and making that intravenous drip into your bloodstream do the work for you?

Nobody asked me, but it appears to be a matter of choice. Social media sources are chock-a-block full of raving testimonials praising the benefits of the infusions. At the same time, critics from the medical establishment continue to pile on the measurable results, dismissing the findings and miraculous cures as part of a nationwide hoax and sham.

Of course, there is no reason why you have to choose any one particular route to good health. You just have to mix and match: eat organic foods properly, get plenty of rest, jog, lift weights, do yoga, pop pills, hydrate, moisturize skin, breathe essential oils and top it off with a weekly IV cocktail.

Now you’re really exhausted. Not only that, but you realize you’ve just kissed your retirement fund bye-bye.

                                                                                                                                                     

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