IV vitamin treatments can cost $800, but ‘you’re just peeing it out’, doctor says

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Growing numbers of clinics are providing IV vitamin treatments, but experts say they're not recommended for most.  (File photo)

Unsplash/Supplied

Growing numbers of clinics are providing IV vitamin treatments, but experts say they’re not recommended for most. (File photo)

Intravenous vitamin infusions seem to be the latest health fad, with clinics popping up across Auckland – but for many people, there is no real benefit to the costly treatment.

Both medical experts and clinics who offer the treatment say there is “no evidence to justify these type of infusions” if the recipient is not vitamin deficient.

Companies that purely offer infusions, such as Drip IV and Boost IV, claim they can help with anything from fatigue (Myer’s cocktail, $360) to preventing brain and heart disease (Boswellia infusion, $829).

Boost IV and Drip IV did not want to comment on their services.

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The director of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Bryan Betty, said he “personally does not recommend this treatment”.

“If you are getting a high dose of vitamins [and you are not deficient] it comes in one end and out the other – you’re just peeing it out,” Betty said.

Dr Bryan Betty does not recommend getting an IV infusion.

KEVIN STENT/Stuff

Dr Bryan Betty does not recommend getting an IV infusion.

Doctor Frances Pitsilis, who offers infusions through her clinic Skinfresh, said Kiwis may be wasting their money.

“I think some are getting into this treatment for the money and because it has become fashionable,” she said.

Gareth O’Donnell, the director of products at the Edison Clinic, said infusions were just one thing the clinic offered, as part of a wrap-around treatment plan.

“Nutrition, exercise and sleep always comes first. If you are going to invest money in health, your best bet is to invest in those three things first,” he said.

Before any patient has an IV infusion at the Edison Clinic, depending on which infusion they are receiving, they must go through a medical interview, sign a consent form and have a blood test.

“If there are any issues with your liver or renal system, it’s a no,” O’Donnell said.

STACY SQUIRES/STUFF

Cancer researcher Dr Gabi Dachs: Vitamin C might be one more tool for taming tumour growth. (Video first published in January 2020)

Edison Clinic saw a lot of cancer patients who “love the vitamin C stuff”, she said.

“We’re very clear with cancer patients. There’s a whole host of misinformation out there about vitamin C and cancer, it can’t cure cancer.”

Biochemist Professor Margreet Vissers, who has specialized in vitamin C for the past 20 years, said “the rationale of giving an infusion is really unclear”.

“There is a claim that vitamin C can slow down cancer growth, this claim has been blown out of proportion,” Vissers said.

“There are some cancers that do respond to infusions, and these stories drive the hope and belief that vitamin C will offer them something that traditional medicine has not,” Vissers said.

Vissers said when someone got sick, whether it is through the common cold or a severe case of Covid-19, their vitamin C stores were depleted.

“Different illnesses result in different degrees of loss, and the amount of vitamin C loss accelerates the sicker you are,” she said.

However, those levels would be rectified as people recovered.

“If you are a well person, a daily intake through fruit and vege is more than adequate,” she said.

Vissers said there were concerns about the regulation of vitamin C, since it was not regarded as a drug.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said Medsafe was aware of the issue.

”[Medsafe] is examining how the Medicines Act applies to these types of products or services.”

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