Drip Advisor: How IV Therapy Made Me Energized, Productive, and Totally Afraid for the Future of Personal Health

I’m sitting on an all-white couch in an all-white room. There’s a vague Euro-y lounge beat flowing over the speaker system, and a highlight reel of various wild animals — cheetahs, grizzlies, killer whales — catching prey on an adjacent television screen.

Given my surroundings, you might assume I’m at one of the glitzy nightclubs on Toronto’s infamous King West strip, where the city’s corporate crowd flocks to let loose after hours. You’d only be half right. I am, indeed, on King West. Only it’s 11 a.m. and there’s no alcohol involved; instead, I’ve got an IV bag pumping fluids directly into a vein in my left arm.

Don’t worry. I wasn’t involved in a traumatic accident. I’m merely test driving the services of REVIV, a wellness clinic that doles out elective intravenous drips and booster shots. Who’s getting these things? According to REVIV, it’s everyone from on-the-go professionals who need to be sharp on three hours’ rest to club kids who took the bottle service a little too far the night before, to the age-averse looking for a new way to glow, to some combination of all three.

REVIV was launched in 2011 by a quartet of emergency room doctors in Miami who wagered that, if presented in a spa-like setting, the overworked, perennially hungover masses might embrace all the benefits of IV therapy: hydration, energy boosts, stronger immune systems, healthier physical appearance. They were right, and then some — in just half a decade, REVIV has spread to four continents and 13 countries, injecting some 60,000 treatments along the way.

“For better or worse, IVs might just become the 21st century version of getting enough rest and eating right.”

“A lot of industry pundits are calling us the next Botox,” boasts Christopher Chapheau, the general manager of REVIV’s newly minted Toronto flagship, the company’s first location in Canada. “Elective hydration therapy really is the future of health and wellness.”

Not long afterwards, I put those claims to the test. After checking my vitals with a nurse — all of REVIV’s staff are medical professionals who work at nearby hospitals and clinics — and a brief consultation with a doctor via Skype, I’m hooked up to a bagful of Megaboost, the clinic’s most popular infusion. It’s a concoction of essential B vitamins, magnesium and glutathione — a natural antioxidant that purportedly improves immunity, protects your DNA and enhances the look of your skin, hair and nails, among other benefits — along with 1,000 millilitres of saline for hydration. The treatment costs $150 a pop, which puts it smack in the middle of REVIV’s menu; booster shots (specially formulated for purposes like weight loss and fitness recovery) start at $25, while the top-of-the-line IV treatment, dubbed the Royal Flush — which mixes the Megaboost with additional hangover-recovery ingredients — costs $275.

Unlike oral vitamins, Chapheau explains, which generally cap out at 20 to 30 per cent absorption levels, the IV’s direct-tissue delivery will result in my body receiving 100 per cent of all the goodness in the mix. And, he assures me, the ingredients are water-soluble, so whatever my body doesn’t use is flushed out.

The IV in place — my upper arm feels a little cool, but there’s no discomfort or pain whatsoever — I’m led over to the aforementioned white couch to flip through magazines and watch a poor gazelle get mauled in the plains. The clinic also has a couples’ treatment suite — nothing says romance like intravenous infusions — and a blacked-out single-occupancy room for clients who are really hurting.

Half an hour later, the bag’s all drained and I’m free to go. On my way out, the nurse warns me that I might feel a little groggy at first, before the treatment takes effect. She’s right: I return to work and don’t feel much of anything, honestly. Near the end of the day, though, I realize I’ve been focused and productive without my usual mid-afternoon dip. No coffee necessary.

But it’s the following morning that I really feel it: after just four hours of sleep, I bound out of bed like I’ve just snorted a can of Red Bull, with no crash in sight. My mind feels clear and crisp and ready to pounce, not unlike a cheetah preparing for the hunt. It carries through the rest of the day — and the next one, and the one after that — and I begin to see why someone would absolutely want to do this on the regular.

After a certain point, though, I start to wonder: I could get used to feeling this amazing all the time, sure, but should I? As wholesome and safe as REVIV’s products supposedly are, it’s easy to picture getting hooked on these things the way you would a drug. It seems, in the end, like an expensive substitute to an actual healthy lifestyle.

But Chapheau’s betting that this won’t bother most people once they experience just how darn good REVIV can make them feel. The Toronto flagship only launched in April, but he’s already in talks with 80 clinics across Canada to make elective IVs available from coast to coast. For better or worse, IVs might just become the 21st century version of getting enough rest and eating right. Get your veins ready.