The young lady who has just offered me bags of intravenous multivitamins has a jaw drop when I ask her if Cofepris supports the procedure.
– Is there a particular reason you are so interested? she asks, visibly upset, totally offended that someone asking for permission to stick a needle into a client’s vein
– It is a quite intrusive therapy, I want to make sure that it is something that works.
Remarkably upset, she says she has permission, but can’t show it. His eyebrow furrows, even more, when the Reviv spa receptionist tells him he has it right next to his desk. Five seconds of whispers between them, and they decide to extend a copy to me, with the warning that I cannot take a photo of it.
More than a sanitary license, it is a notice of modification of the sanitary manager of the place. The important thing is not that, but the document does determine that the location is a medical establishment.
Contrary to all prognosis, Cofepris has given the go-ahead to private spas in Mexico that inject cocktails of dehydration or even multivitamin formulas into the vein, even without the client having any proven medical condition, an essential requirement for applying an intravenous infusion as the NOM 022 determines that infusions should be applied ” for diagnostic, therapeutic and prophylactic purposes “.
Intravenous “cocktails” are advertised to alleviate dehydration, against jet-lag symptoms, to improve mood, and even to help combat conditions such as diabetes. They are, in the words of the Reviv spa (one of the most famous internationally, with locations in the United Kingdom, the United States and more than a dozen countries) chemical formulas that have been endorsed by pharmaceutical specialists for decades. But it is not the only one: in Mexico, there are also Wellness Drips, Cabo, The Drip Spa, Hangover Team, Svelte and several more.
Their popularity is such that luminaries, actresses and models like Gwyneth Paltrow and even Kendall Jenner turn to them. In Mexico, Wellness Drips has numerous photos on her Instagram account with influencers and public figures with a catheter in place while “therapy” is administered to them.
But essentially “they are in a very gray area offering magical things, [saying to their clients] ‘you don’t worry, you go astray, you alcoholize yourself’ ” says the head of the UNAM nutrition career, Mariana Valdés, in an interview with Xataka Mexico.
With such an invasive treatment, injecting formulas whose components are not clarified at any stage of the process with the argument that these are products with patents, one would think that those who are in charge of customer service in spas of this type would be more than accustomed requests for permits from Cofepris, and that Cofepris and the Ministry of Health would have had to give an exhaustive inspection in the bibliography on multivitamins for intravenous infusion before allowing them to operate as normal as they do.
It turns out that, although the scientific consensus does not endorse the effectiveness of the therapies, in Mexico they have been accepted with a particular emotion. Whether due to advertising campaigns or not, media such as Elle, Chilango and EstiloDF have texts on site that recommend these spas as ” an effective and quick way to incorporate nutrients directly into your bloodstream “, or as ” the most alternative fast and effective so that the body receives the vitamins and minerals that your body requires. “
Dr. Robert Shmerling of Harvard University disagrees. He says:
What bothers me is the lack of evidence for an invasive treatment. I can see how the idea of IV fluids may sound like a good idea. We hear all the time the importance of drinking enough water and staying hydrated (…) and there is the power of the stories people tell, especially celebrities, to describe how good they felt after receiving an infusion of multivitamins.
Contrary to what is stated in the notes of the aforementioned media, and of the spas themselves, it is not part of the scientific consensus that when it comes to multivitamins, intravenous absorption is substantially more effective than the absorption achieved orally, as much sense as it seems to have that if a nutrient is injected directly into a vein it will be more efficient than if you take a pill. ” There are some nutrients whose absorption is even better orally than intravenously, ” explains teacher Valdés.
A good case is vitamins A and B, both soluble in water, and therefore will be discarded via urine, explained Dr. Marc I. Leavey to Baltimore Sun. ” You will be producing very expensive urine ” agreed at the time the WHO specialist, Lisa Rogers, who assured the BBC that about 90% of this type of vitamin would be excreted; “It is literally flushing money down the toilet, ” he said. In Mexico, the cheapest “therapies” cost 2,500 pesos. That is a single 45-minute dose. Others reach 3,500. There is an additional service where staff take the product home and take care of the infusion intravenously with an extra charge of 600 pesos. Some of the therapies should be applied once a month, Reviv recommends, so that the effects are more evident
Reviv maintains that for vitamins and minerals the intestinal tract is a barrier that prevents its adequate absorption. By injecting directly into the vein, proportions are achieved which, if attempted orally, ” may result in stomach upset and under certain circumstances and conditions, this absorption may be severely limited as a result of deficiencies that disturb the delicate balance of the body .”
Throwing out 3,000 pesos could be the least of the problems. In addition to water-soluble vitamins, there are those that are soluble in fat, such as D, E, and K. These vitamins can be stored in the body, without necessarily meaning effective absorption. If they accumulate, they can cause a condition called hypervitaminosis whose symptoms produce weakness, tiredness, headaches, and nausea, ironically, all the symptoms that are claimed can be alleviated by intravenous infusion therapies.
But the clinics would not be successful in Mexico and other parts of the world if the clients themselves did not feel changes of any kind. Beyond emotional discourse, beyond health conversation, clients have reported experiencing benefits of intravenous infusion therapies. Reviv assures on its page that the benefits can be noticed in two to four days after the end of the procedure, which lasts 45 minutes. He adds that some of his clients do experience changes immediately after completing the procedure.
This could be explained, says Valdés, because hydration does indeed occur. ” [The improvements] are related to hydration, not necessarily nutrients. Not that nutrients act at any moment, biochemistry doesn’t work that way .” Doctor Leavey agrees on the point, explaining that in particular in the case of clients who come with their own hangover symptoms, hydration, a quiet environment and rest are the true reasons for the feeling of well-being.
Science has one more way to explain it: the placebo effect. A study published in 2009 oversaw clinical cases of clients who underwent multivitamins cocktails Myers, the precursor doctor’s tendency to inject vitamins intravenously as a cure for fatigue, headaches, fatigue, and malaise. The study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed a consistent placebo effect.
The 34 study subjects were divided into two groups: while the first received the multivitamin, the second only received a placebo. The moment of truth came after eight weeks with doses every seven days, when the two groups reported experiencing improvements. Even more, telling was that the placebo group even reported feeling slightly better than the one that received the multivitamin.”REVIV’s proprietary intravenous infusion therapies target a variety of wellness needs by replenishing hydration, aiding recovery from illness or jet lag, restoring vitamin and nutrient levels, renewing aesthetic appearance, and revitalizing your general well-being “Excerpt from Reviv’s description on his Facebook site
Hang Overs that (doesn’t) heal
Intravenous infusion therapies have been touted since their inception as hangover cures, making them particularly attractive in places like Las Vegas. Some spas in Mexico such as Svelte and Vida avoid linking IV “therapies” with the undisputed remedy for hangover effects, but this is not common. The Drip Spa in Cabos San Lucas is quite express with which one of its therapies restores the body ” on a cellular level “.
The spa offers the classic infusion of Dr. Myers, but also has therapies that they say serve to improve exercise performance, lose weight, gain energy, strengthen the immune system, and finally “therapy” that ” instantly reverses the effects of a hangover while detoxifying your body at the cellular level. So forget about nausea, ebb, and headaches and keep the party going. “
A hangover is not even considered a disease, the teacher Valdés from UNAM. ” It should not be seen as something to cure … it is a condition derived from excessive alcohol consumption .”
Still, it’s not just The Drip Spa. The same promise is made by Pure also in Cabo San Lucas, Remedy Drip in Playa del Carmen, Hangover Team in Cancun and also Reviv both in Mexico City and at its branch in Puerto Vallarta. ” Designed to help you recover from common ailments like a cold, flu, jet lag, or hangover, our IV therapies have been created by a team of doctors, so you feel refreshed and revitalized .”
According to the scientific consensus, relieving hangover symptoms is not as easy as drinking plenty of water. Contrary to popular thought, a hangover is not just dehydration.
A hangover is essentially an intoxication, caused by metabolites (mainly acetaldehyde ) that generalize in the liver. Cells of all levels and of all departments begin to swell as a reaction to the threat, causing fluid malabsorption, dehydration, dizziness, nausea, and all symptoms linked to hangover torture. The field is one that still lacks a lot of research, but on what there is a consensus is that hydrating does not mean eradicating a hangover.
A meta-study on potential hangover treatments revealed in 2017 that there is no single substance whose effectiveness is verifiable in alleviating the discomforts of excessive alcohol consumption. The meta-analysis considered the rigor of about 800 previous studies and ends by analyzing the six most important. Among the conclusions, it is pointed out that there may be six substances or formulas that can potentially reduce hangover symptoms, although in the absence of information, science cannot guarantee the effectiveness of any.
Of course, electrolytes and glucose to recover lost nutrients is a good way to deal with hangover symptoms. It is, basically, to recover what is known to be lost due to cellular inflammation. Reviv, Vida and Svelte were contacted to contribute to this text with precise information on the functioning of their “therapies”. No response was received from any spa.
In Mexico, the teacher in Health Sciences from the IPN, Guadalupe Montes, has made a call to ignore drinks and establishments that offer services that promise to alleviate all symptoms. ” There are places that operate without sanitary permits and that offer their services through the internet to supposedly cure the crude oil with packages that include medicines; they are establishments that put users’ health at risk and that also violate various provisions of the General Law of Health “
Medicine or not medicine
But with spas like Reviv showing (reluctantly) Cofepris permission to a client who requests it, it seems that in Mexico there is no problem. Reviv staff has not shown a license as such, but the document they have provided does suggest that there is one, since there are only health managers for establishments that need health licenses.
Hence, its staff can assure that its products have been endorsed by Cofepris, and even by the FDA, although the latter is denied by Reviv’s own page that contains the legend ” the services provided have not been evaluated by * The Food and Drug Administration (…) does not attempt to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. (…) Any designations or references to therapies are for marketing purposes and do not represent actual products. “
Nothing more contrary to the sales speech they have made me. It has been explained to me that three of his five “therapies” are “prevention”, but the other two “have some medicine ” and are recommended ” for when the patient already has any symptoms .” Although the teacher Valdés of the UNAM is blunt with the care with which the word ” therapy ” should be used, it should be used exclusively for procedures whose therapeutic effectiveness is proven, (and therefore she refuses to use the concept to describe to intravenous infusions of spas), Cofepris has even granted a sanitary license as a medical establishment to the place.
In the process, it has made it easier for IV therapies to be sold as undoubted, undisputed and almost miraculous remedies, just as they have been offered to me.
In fact, if it weren’t for the express permission granted, IV therapies could well be classified as “miracle products .” Cofepris defines “miracle products” as remedies for one or more conditions that promise great health benefits: ” lacking scientific evidence, the miracle product will not give such benefits, and even more seriously, the condition or disease may evolve from quietly. “
All the characteristics are fulfilled with precision, except for one: a miracle product is not recognized by Cofepris. Ministry of Health should be aware of the use of therapies, not only through the permission of Cofepris, but because the Regulation of the General Health Law in the Area of Sanitary Control of Activities, Establishments, Products and Services establishes in its article 21 that the secretary must issue once a year certificates of sanitary conditions to establishments, for which she must carry out periodic supervision.
Vitamin C VS Cancer
When I called Svelte, after there was no official response to the interview request, I was hoping to hear about everything except about IV vitamin C infusion therapy for cancer. Doses of up to 75 grams can even ” slow the metastasis ” of cancer, depending on where you are and the stage, says the doctor on the other end of the line.
The Jalisco-based Svelte Clinic not only uses conventional intravenous infusion therapies, but it also handles a wide catalog of experimental infusions. At no time are they assured as an infallible remedy for any discomfort, but on their page it refers to the fact that vitamins, proteins and chemical components that they handle can counteract some of the effects of Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and even Alzheimer’s diseases.
Again and again, reference is made to clinical studies, although they are not properly cited.
The fact is that, at least for cancer, there is a bibliography of high doses of vitamin C being used in clinical cases to counteract certain effects of cancer. ” There are reports in PubMed and in reliable places about articles that report the use of intravenous vitamin C megadoses, but there is still no meta-analysis that indicates the consensus of the scientific community, ” explains Professor Valdés.
Specifically, all the effects have not been studied with the necessary rigor to be endorsed, and therefore, the potential side effects are unknown, including the decalcification that the use of ascorbic acid entails. For the doctor at the Svelte clinic that is not a problem, he assures that for this reason patients are compensated with calcium injections.
Although this type of “therapies” again have no consensus, and have objectives more than distant from the first, again these are cases for which neither the Ministry of Health nor Cofepris have set their sights on evaluating the safety promised by the clinic or the potential side effects of the procedures it offers.
Yes, in addition to vitamin C “therapy”, Glutathione which recommends against stress, depression and Alzheimer’s and Chelation to ” protect from senile dementia “, it also offers its own Myers cocktail.
Experimental, with proven therapeutic effects or not, the risks of the intravenous infusion procedure alone are undeniable, hence its use is strictly recommended for patients with absorption disorders in the digestive tract ” or critically ill patients who are hospitalized ” explains the teacher Valdés.
Under specific conditions, there are people who need an intravenous infusion to absorb the necessary nutrients: “it is called parenteral nutrition and it is supervised by a multidisciplinary team, ” says the UNAM teacher.
Infusions must have such high-quality standards that NOM 022 has been created for this purpose in Mexico, and the Ministry of Health has implemented the catheter clinic , a program to raise the standards of the procedure and reduce the risks inherent in the infusion. local or systemic infections. ” Hospital institutions must have clear policies, procedures, and objectives of how central and peripheral intravenous therapy will be carried out, ” says the Ministry of Health.
In addition to guaranteeing sterile conditions, to apply an infusion therapy you must analyze the history of a patient, especially if it is vitamins. The teacher Valdés goes deeper:
“It is important to consider that with multivitamins it is not known if the person has an underlying altered liver or kidney function; if this type of cocktail is administered with the unawareness that the person had a pre-existing condition in this regard, the risk involved IV therapy is increased substantially “
In sum, as Rogers, from the WHO, told the BBC : ” the risks greatly outweigh the benefits (…) people only need vitamins in small amounts and only in the case of deficiency is it worth considering taking supplements additional “.
A tall, stocky man over six feet walks into the spa while I read the permission slips at the reception desk. Who received me, always pending that I do not use the cell phone while I have the sheets in hand, turns to him and his face changes. Apparently, he is an assiduous client, because in English she asks directly: ” What therapy would you like to try today .”
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