Trendy intravenous vitamin treatments take a long, strange drip through Scottsdale.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon in early spring, The Drip Room in Scottsdale bustles with guests lounging on comfy, oversized massage chairs and enjoying the wafting aromas of lavender and jasmine at an oxygen bar, all while watching a large-screen TV, or using iPads. The chic, social setting features Tiffany blue-colored walls, a geometric patterned accent wall, and a private back room resplendent in orange and yellow hues.
Indulging at this hip lounge on this weekend afternoon are marathon runners, hungover partiers and middle-aged women hoping to stall the aging process. But there’s one surprising detail amid the appealing spa-like ambiance – everyone is hooked up to an IV.
The Drip Room is on the cutting edge of a craze that’s bound to get in your blood – intravenous vitamin treatments. The Hollywood health and wellness trend is reportedly favored by Madonna, Rihanna, Simon Cowell and athletes galore, and it’s kept a steady stream of business flowing through The Drip Room since it opened last November. The first of its kind in Arizona, The Drip Room is the creation of registered nurse Shirley Kelly, who teamed with naturopathic physician Brent Cameron to target the “walking well” – otherwise healthy folks struggling with stress, aches and pains. While critics decry IV vitamin regimens as a practice with unproven benefits and unknown risks, advocates like Kelly and Cameron stand by their brand. “IV vitamin therapy is very beneficial as a regular treatment for prevention and overall health and well-being,” Cameron says.
Pioneered by late Baltimore physician John Myers more than 40 years ago, IV vitamin therapy has been embraced by celebrities who laud its alleged energy-boosting and anti-aging benefits, and bolstered by the buzz of high-end health hubs like the Be Hive of Healing center in Los Angeles.
Like the Be Hive, The Drip Room offers specialty drips (see sidebar), including the signature “Myers Drip,” an “energy” drip packed with high doses of B vitamins, and an “immunity” drip, a top seller during flu season. There are custom drips for detoxification, jet lag, weight loss, anti-aging and even for partygoers who had too many cocktails.
Kelly previously worked as a nurse practitioner in cosmetic surgery, utilizing IV vitamin therapy pre- and post-surgery. Many patients expressed a desire to continue the drips, so Kelly conceived The Drip Room. “We have additional corrective IVs that we are adding to the menu that plastic surgeons can send their patients in for,” she says. “The combination of vitamins is great for wound healing and can diminish scarrring.” A longtime Valley resident, Kelly felt the Drip Room concept would thrive here. “Scottsdale has a hip, urban vibe and people are into taking care of themselves,” she says.
Introducing vitamins intravenously allows for quicker, more effective absorption of the nutrients, Kelly says. “Whatever we take orally has to pass through the digestive tract – versus when you do something intravenously, it goes directly through the bloodstream. And it’s not only the absorption but also the dosage. We can do much higher amounts that have different benefits,” Kelly explains.
Kelly reports few adverse effects. “Any time you puncture the skin, there’s a chance of infection, but again, I’ve never seen that,” Kelly says. “Sometimes people could have a little lightheadedness, but it’s rare. Overall, it’s very safe.”
While some detractors say vitamin drips have not proved effective, Cameron counters: “IV vitamin therapy has a very long history of safety and efficacy. It’s been used since the 1950s, beginning with Dr. Myers, and since then has been used on tens of thousands of patients with very good results. Many of these results, I’ve seen in my own patients.’’
And to critics who say it’s just a fad, Kelly disagrees. “I don’t think most people think of their health as a fad,” she says. “Health isn’t going away. Being healthy, feeling good – most people want to maintain that. So... there may be somebody that just comes in and tries it once... but in general, vitamin therapy itself has been around for a while and I think it’s just on the beginning of that paradigm shift in the mainstream.”
Recipes for popular IV cocktails at The Drip Lounge
High doses of vitamin C and zinc combined with B5, B6, B12, calcium, magnesium, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin and trace minerals.
Classic Myers Drip
Magnesium, calcium, B6, B12, B-complex, vitamin C and panthenol, a provitamin found in whole-grain cereals and legumes that helps the body metabolize proteins and carbohydrates.
Vitamin C and glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that protects cellular components from damage caused by oxygen-containing molecules such as free radicals.
Cost: $149 per drip or $39.99 a month for a membership (drops price of drip to $99)
Length of treatment: 30 to 40 minutes for the drip, an hour for first-timers