Some people love puppies. Some love chocolate. Some love hugs. So what did actress and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow say she loves during a recent episode of “The Art of Being Well” podcast? An IV. Yes, an IV as in an intravenous line. In fact, apparently Paltrow even came armed with an IV to this podcast hosted by Will Cole, DC, DNM.
This was the same podcast where Paltrow had mentioned having ozone put in her rectum. I already got to the bottom of such rectal ozone therapy when I covered it for Forbes on March 18. So, this time let’s focus on the line that Paltrow gave Cole. During the podcast. Cole remarked to Paltrow, “As you’re recording this right now, you have a little IV, which is so on-brand for both of us. We pod and IV at the same time!” To that Paltrow responded, “I’m really embarrassing myself right here. I love an IV! I’m an early IV adopter.”
Paltrow went on to say, “Glutathione, I love to have in an IV. Kind of a random, more fringy one, phosphatidylcholine…that’s my favorite IV when I can find them. They’re quite hard to find. And those make me feel so good.” This time, though, Paltrow just had an IV drip of “good old-fashioned vitamins,” because some days you just have to go casual, right? She said all this to Cole, who interestingly didn’t seem to question her practice of using an IV at all or ask for some real scientific evidence to support her claims.
Rather, Cole called it “on-brand.” And what is Cole’s brand? Well, he indicates on his website, that he is a “Functional Medicine Practitioner (IFMCP), Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM) and Doctor of Chiropractic (DC)” and, therefore, offers the following disclaimer: “I do not practice medicine and do not diagnose or treat diseases or medical conditions.” His website adds, “My services are not meant to substitute or replace those of a medical doctor but my programs are meant to work in conjunction with them.”
In theory, working in conjunction with medical doctors should mean do things that are actually backed by medical and scientific evidence. So is there any evidence that using an IV drip is safe and scientifically justified? Or is this all feeding people lines, so to speak?
In recent years, so-called “rent-a-drip” IV lounges and spas and wellness clinics that offer such IV drip therapy have been popping up all over the country. These places will insert an IV catheter into your arm through which they can run various concoctions of intravenous fluids into your vein, meaning saline mixed with vitamins or different types of medications. Such businesses have made a range of claims about such IV treatments. The most common claim is that such treatments can help cure hangovers. But there are other broader claims such as fighting exhaustion, boosting your immune system, “optimizing” health, preventing illness, “reversing” disease, and even helping “your body, mind, and soul.”
Wow. Helping your soul? And here you thought that you actually needed to do good deeds for people and help humanity to help your soul. Who knew that running stuff into your veins for 45 minutes and paying these places money could do all that.
Before you fall for such lines, remember there’s a reason why you typically do not need an IV to put things into your body. It’s called your mouth. Your mouth is not just for talking. It can do all sorts of other things, including help deliver things to your bloodstream. When you are thirsty and dehydrated, you can drink more water. When you are feeling undernourished, you can eat food that naturally has the necessary nutrients. When you need certain medications, the preferable route is again through your mouth.
That’s because your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which consists of everything from your esophagus through your stomach and intestines down to your rectum (which should not have ozone it), is there to regulate what goes into your bloodstream and what does not. Poop should be proof of your GI tract doing its work and that not everything belongs in your bloodstream. Your GI tract serves as a natural barrier to your bloodstream. This includes physical barriers as well as immunity barriers. Your GI tract is lined with a range of different cells that perform a variety of functions for your immune system. Your GI tract also houses a whole city of bacteria and other microbes called the microbiome. This city situation processes the things that go through your GI tract in a variety of ways before they can be absorbed into your blood stream. Putting stuff directly into your veins ultimately bypasses all of these natural protections offered by your GI tract.
It used to be that real medical doctors would only prescribe IV treatments when your GI tract wasn’t working well, they had to administer a medication that would not be adequately absorbed through your GI tract, or they needed to get something into your body rapidly such as in an emergency. None of these criteria should apply to most nutrients when you don’t have an existing medical problem. Otherwise, most restaurants would be asking, “Would you like your food in a plate or through an IV?”
Medical doctors tend to avoid having IV lines inserted into patients unless necessary. That’s because while IV lines may be relatively safe when properly inserted and maintained, they are not completely without their risks. By penetrating your skin and providing direct access to your bloodstream, IV catheters can allow bacteria and other microbes to more readily enter your body. This can lead to a variety of infections. Bleeding and blood clot formation can result as well. That’s why only properly qualified, trained, and experienced medical personnel who use appropriate precautions should be inserting IVs. Again, this is why real medical doctors don’t tend to prescribe IV treatments unless they really have to do so.
The other question is how much of these IV concoctions are actually helping your body. Paying to have vitamins or other stuff run into your veins could simply be producing very expensive urine. Taking Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron, folate, and potassium supplements, for example, ain’t exactly the same thing as eating spinach. The properties of natural foods can alter how nutrients are absorbed and used by your body. When you instead just try to put such vitamins separately into your body, it’s not clear how much of these vitamins are actually used by your body versus being quickly excreted by your kidneys.
Moreover, you’ve got to be careful about what these IV lounges or clinics may be putting into your body. Heck you wouldn’t allow just anything to be put on top of your pizza, right? Why not then question what specifically these wellness spas and clinics may be putting in your body? Ask for peer-reviewed studies published in reputable scientific journals to support the use of whatever they may try to put into your body. For example, Paltrow mentioned glutathione and phosphatidylcholine. Where exactly is the scientific evidence that getting such substances dripped into your bloodstream via an IV will provide any real health benefits?
Paltrow may love an IV, but that doesn’t mean that you should too. Take any such health advice from celebrities who aren’t medical experts with a grain of salt. And in this case grain of salt doesn’t mean the salt that’s in intravenous saline solution, which by the way can be a problem if you have certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure. Make sure what they are claiming is actually backed by real peer-reviewed scientific evidence. After all, you don’t want to fall for a line whether it’s an IV line or not.