Post health editor joins the IV league as she tries wellness drip in Hong Kong

After a litre of Reviv’s Megaboost cocktail of vitamins and minerals, the beneficial effects are underwhelming to say the least

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 July, 2016, 7:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 August, 2016, 5:09pm

The last time I had an IV I was in labour, so getting one in the spa-like setting of Reviv HK was a huge contrast. It was peaceful and relaxing over the 30 minutes it took for a litre of Reviv’s Megaboost infusion to drip into my vein.

I sat in the semi-private area in a corner of the clinic that looked out over Duddell Street. There is also a private area for one person behind closed doors (usually used by VIPs or celebrities), and a lounge area with a large couch (popular with those who like to socialise while having their IV, says Reviv HK director Sharie Ross).

The Hongkongers hooked up to IVs for vitamin and hydration - do they work?

Having researched vitamin infusions prior to my interview and trial at Reviv HK, I was hopeful to feel its magical effects, in particular the energy boost, better sleep and glowing skin that I read about. Unfortunately, I did not feel much different, except for a sudden perk up about 15 minutes after getting the infusion – but nothing different or longer lasting than a caffeine jolt.

To be fair, when signing the medical disclaimer form prior to starting the IV treatment, I was warned: “The vast majority of patients receiving our therapy feel an improvement; however, every individual is different and there is no guarantee that you will feel better after an infusion.”

According to the Reviv website, as a general rule, the more deficient and unbalanced your system is, the greater and more immediate an effect you will feel.

Dr Winnie Mui, family physician at Dr Lauren Bramley & Partners, says: “If you’re generally healthy and your vitamin levels are not too low, any extra you take [through vitamin infusions] that your body doesn’t need is just going to be passed out in your urine because the vitamins are water-soluble. Not everyone needs IV therapy – you’ll just have very expensive urine.”

The Reviv website adds that “just because you do not feel an immediate difference, doesn’t mean the treatment is not beneficial. IV treatments are the clinical gold standard in ‘flushing’ out the body of unwanted toxins and helping achieve balance.”

According to Rich Le Gallez, owner of Reviv HK and a director at global Reviv, the Megaboost did have an effect: it helped him recover quickly from a recent six-day, 250km ultramarathon in the Gobi Desert. A week before the race, he had the Hydromax, Reviv’s infusion designed to help athletes hydrate, reduce lactic acid and rebalance salts. “I knew my body was as hydrated as it could be before setting off. I also felt very alert and strong from the hydration,” he says.

Noticeable effects of the infusions typically last two to four days, says Reviv, though the “underlying clinical benefits” can continue beyond that. The benefits, however, are not supported by controlled clinical trials.

Some scientists even argue the benefit people report of getting an infusion may well be due to the placebo effect.

“In the absence of a deficiency, vitamin infusions don’t do much of anything. To the worried well, intravenous vitamins are going to be a harmless panacea that just succeed in enriching the revenues of the purveyor,” writes pharmacist Scott Gavura on the website sciencebasedmedicine.org. “If you value health theatre over health care, and don’t mind paying mightily for the illusion, vitamin infusions may be your thing.”

For me, spending a couple of thousand on vitamins that cost much less in pill form does not make sense. I’d rather use that money for some quality produce and get my nutrients the natural way – eating.