Imagine a place where you can sink into a Barcalounger, surf Netflix and cure a pesky hangover at the same time.
You’re given a pillow. They serve you honey and ginger tea. There’s even a service bell at your side table to ding for assistance.
This vision of heaven might sound like a pipe dream, but it’s a real part of the growing craze.
Typically reserved for people hospitalized with alcohol poisoning, hydration via IV has risen in popularity as a hangover cure — if you’ve got the cash.
After a night of drinking, I tested the Detox IV drip, known playfully in some circles as the “party girl drip.” Most IVs have a price tag of at least $100. The one I’m getting today at the Timeless Health Clinic on Wood St. will run you a cool $170.
I kick back in the IV lounge next to two other patients. They receive treatment every week and admittedly look much better than me today. They’re not here for the party girl drip. One of them puts on a nature documentary on Netflix and naturopathic doctor Yelena Deshko brings me warm tea to sooth my parched body.
A headache grinds behind my eyes and reminds me that vodka was a bad choice.
“There’s no known cure for a common hangover other than obviously not having a hangover in the first place,” Deshko tells me. That said, she says, the party girl drip is probably has the most scientific merit.
The “cure” is threefold: hydration, nutrition, and protection. The drip will attempt to offset the dehydrating effects of alcohol. It also contains a medley of B vitamins, which alcohol depletes. Finally, glutathione — the “cure’s” star ingredient — is added after the bag is emptied (it “doesn’t play well with others,” Deshko says). It’s a powerful antioxidant that helps detoxify the liver.
The theory goes that because an IV is administered directly into the blood stream, the nutrients bypass the digestive system, and therefore break down less and have faster acting effects.
“I would say it’s more effective than most suggested hangover cures just because it has more of a scientific basis for it,” says Deshko, though it hasn’t really caught on here. The party girl cocktail is their least popular combination, she says.
In the U.S., some companies market intravenous therapy specifically for hangovers. The Hangover Club in New York City provides in-office IV drips for the hungover office worker. Hangover Heaven in Las Vegas is a party bus for hungover gamblers, driving around the strip administering IVs. I had to walk to the Timeless Health Clinic, but so far that’s the only drawback.
As the yellowy IV nutrients drip into me, the guy next to me says I might start to taste the effects in a “metallic-y” way. I don’t taste anything and I remind myself that not everyone agrees that this new-age therapy is a legitimate procedure. Lynda G. Balneaves, registered nurse and director of the Centre for Integrative Medicine at the University of Toronto, says it might not be best practice to dole out IV therapy as a hangover cure.
“To propose that you can go out on a night of drinking and then be able to offset the health effects by going in for IV therapy is not something we want to be promoting,” she says.
Sure, but if it works? Looking at what little literature there is, she says, there’s not enough to suggest it does. IV therapy could improve your level of fatigue for the day of the hangover, but there isn’t much research supporting the procedure’s health benefits.
“A balanced diet, a sufficient intake of fluids, and getting sufficient rest and exercise — to me, that is the cheaper, and the more sustainable way of being a healthy individual,” says Balneaves, but “there’s always the placebo effect.” If you are an informed consumer and can afford to use a placebo, “knock yourself out,” she says.
If I hadn’t been an inquisitive and skeptical journalist, perhaps the party girl drip would have been a great placebo cure. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel much different. Maybe my hangover wasn’t bad enough. Maybe it was so bad that the IV bag wasn’t big enough. Or maybe it did work and I avoided a worse hangover that could have reared its ugly head later that day.
All I know is I still had a headache and wanted to go back to bed — or back to my Netflix and Barcalounger in the IV lounge.