• In the new series of The Diet Testers, Dr Xand van Tulleken tests the therapy himself to find out. (iStockphoto)Source: iStockphoto
Clinics around the world have been offering intravenous vitamin drips to dieters to help speed up their metabolism and lose weight. But how effective is this treatment, really?
By
Yasmin Noone

1 Nov 2018 - 11:44 AM  UPDATED 26 Oct 2018 - 11:54 AM

Everyone wants a quick, relatively pain-free and effective way to lose weight. But how far would you go to achieve it? In the new series of The Diet Testers, Dr Xand van Tulleken tests the therapy himself to find out. 

Would you pay hundreds of dollars to be hooked up to an intravenous drip to receive a fast hit of vitamins into your blood stream that could possibly help speed up your metabolism?

Although this method of weight loss may sound extreme, a number of clinics have set up shop around the world, offering intravenous (IV) vitamin drips to dieters.

According the website of one Melbourne-based centre offering the treatment, IV.ME Hydration Clinic, IV vitamin drips are meant to hydrate the body by providing it with a steady stream of vitamins via an intravenous route. The theory is that it enables the cocktail of selected vitamins to be absorbed rather than filtered by the kidney and excreted through your urine.

“Intravenous vitamin therapy is the fastest way to potentially restore optimum hydration, stimulate and support the immune system,” the clinic’s website reads.

“The human body works best when it has a healthy balance of essential vitamins and is hydrated…. Rehydrating the body and vitamin input is beneficial in improving the body’s energy levels.”

Would you pay hundreds of dollars to be hooked up to an intravenous drip to receive a fast hit of vitamins into your blood stream that could possibly help speed up your metabolism?

The clinic also claims that because the body is being hydrated through the blood stream, the onset of the effect will be quick. The intended result of treatment is a boost in metabolism, weight loss and a surge of energy. Drip therapy, which has been used by celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Rita Ora, is even supposed to help fight a hangover.

In episode two of the second series of The Diet Testers, Dr Xand van Tulleken goes inside a clinic offering the IV treatment to discover what’s in the IV concoction.

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During the episode, airing on SBS on Monday 29 October at 8.30pm, Xand meets Esther Fieldgrass, one of the first people in the UK to sell vitamin drips.

She describes what goes into her brand of IV vitamin drips. “It’s a whole cocktail, so you have things like Zinc and Calcium and selenium and Vitamin C, there’s about seventy different nutrients in there,” Fieldgrass tells Xand on the show.

“It speeds metabolism and lipotropics will help burn fat. Vitamin C will actually help you metabolise fat.

“Many of the nutrients we’ve put in here, you wouldn’t be able to take orally, it’s too much, and you’d be sitting on the toilet forever. So when it’s put in intravenously, it bypasses the gut makes it much safer, I feel.”

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IV vitamin drips containing magnesium, calcium, B vitamins and vitamin C –referred to as the ‘Myer’s cocktail’, named after its creator – have been used as a treatment for a wide range of clinical issues for some time now.

The Australian Medical Association has also been quite vocal in opposing IV vitamin treatments in the past, saying it’s a waste of money and may not be safe for all patients. Although the IV.ME brand is now operating in Melbourne, the Sydney clinic was closed by NSW Health it was under investigation in 2016

According to a study published in 2002, the cocktail has seemingly helped people with fibromyalgia, acute muscle spasm, upper respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, seasonal allergic rhinitis, cardiovascular disease, and other disorders. But more evidence is required to adequately demonstrate the effectiveness of the treatment compared to a placebo. Further research is also required to prove its worth as a weight loss treatment.

“I feel exhausted, and worn out and frankly pretty confused about what the vitamins were meant to do for me in the first place. I feel no different."

Xand turns from doctor to patient and allows a nurse at the clinic to hook him up to the drip so he can personally test the treatment.

“I’m supposed to feel the effects a burst of energy and boosted metabolism over the next 48 hours,” says Xand, as he is receiving vitamins intravenously. “So will I feel inclined to work out?”

Hours after the treatment, Xand reports back on its how the treatment felt.

“I feel exhausted, and worn out and frankly pretty confused about what the vitamins were meant to do for me in the first place. I feel no different.

“So based on the evidence I’ve seen, here’s my verdict on weight loss vitamin drips.

“Personally I found the experience of having intravenous vitamins and minerals in a nice clinic in a fancy bit of town to be extremely pleasant and relaxing, but at several hundred pounds it is very expensive.

“Would I do it again? Definitely not.”

Intravenous vitamin C (IVC) is commonly used as a cancer therapy in naturopathic and integrative oncology settings. A review on IVC and its effectiveness in treating cancer was published in 2014. The authors found that there is limited high-quality clinical evidence on the safety and effectiveness of IVC. Although there’s not currently enough rigorous evidence to conclusively demonstrate that IVC works, the review found that it may improve symptom severity and quality of life of people with cancer.

The new five-part series of The Diet Testers starts on Monday, 22 October at 8.30pm on SBS. Watch each episode on Mondays at 8.30pm or stream from SBS On Demand after broadcast. 

Follow the conversation on social media: #SBSAustralia

Watch the episode now on SBS On Demand:

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