CHAMPAIGN — Before Sarah Rickgauer boarded a plane for Jamaica, she took an extra precaution hoping to sidestep the exhausting effects of jet lag.
The day before her flight, she powered up with an IV hydration drip and Super B vitamin shot. And they worked, she said.
“I flew to Jamaica and had no jet lag,” Rickgauer recalled.
A medical assistant, Rickgauer works for IVme at Village at the Crossing, home to one of at least three new IV drip bars in Champaign. Two others are Hydration Space at 602 S. Neil St. and Hydrations at 602 E. Green St.
IV drip bars provide hydrating fluids intravenously — sometimes with medications, vitamins and/or nutritional supplements added — and vitamin shots without fluids.
There are IV mixes aimed at reducing stress and anxiety, for improving the appearance of skin and for athletic performance (both before and after heavy workouts) — and still others for treating such maladies as migraine headache attacks, colds, flu, seasonal allergies and, yes, hangovers and jet lag.
Some IV drip bars also come with oxygen bars serving up breaths of nearly 100 percent pure oxygen for still other touted wellness benefits — among them stress reduction and a boost of energy.
IV drip bars have been around for a while. But they’re fairly new in this area, according to IVme Office Manager Melody Rosenbery.
“I think the hardest thing for us is central Illinois does not understand this,” she said.
People often associate IV treatments with illness, Rosenbery said, but a lot of what’s being offered at clinics such as IVme is intended to keep people healthy.
“We’re trying to optimize your body to the best it can be,” she said.
Carle’s not sold
Here are two things to consider for anyone considering these elective IV treatments: They can run over $100 and generally aren’t covered by health insurance. And some doctors are skeptical about the benefits.
Carle, for example, recognizes that people need adequate hydration. Its medical providers just prefer to see people take in fluids and nutrition the natural way, one doctor said.
“We recommend those needing hydration stick to natural processes — healthy food and drink — to let the body’s systems do their work,” said Dr. Benjamin Davis of the Carle emergency department. “While the risk of infection from an IV is typically low, no major studies support the value of IV hydration for day-to-day, non-emergency use.”
On the other hand, IVme, Hydration Space and Hydrations are all owned by doctors.
Former Carle trauma nurse Michael Kittle launched Hydrations in Campustown earlier this year with a physician owner. Chicago-based IVme Wellness and Performance was founded by trauma surgeon Dr. Jack Dybis, who meets with patients in the IVme Champaign clinic once a week, Rosenbery said.
And Hydration Space is a venture of family medicine physician Dr. Susan Mantell, who also has a medical clinic in Philo.
Fluids a factor
Can’t people just drink enough fluids without subjecting themselves to needle sticks and out-of-pocket charges?
Some healthy people can and do drink enough fluids. But the time-honored standard of drinking eight 8-ounce cups of water a day doesn’t provide enough hydration for everyone, according to Lindsay Chevalier, a nurse practitioner with the Champaign IVme clinic.
To be adequately hydrated by drinking fluids, she advises consuming a half-ounce of liquid for every pound you weigh — for instance, 80 ounces of daily fluids for a 160-pound person.
“Most people don’t get enough fluids,” she said.
IV drip bars contend delivering fluids, vitamins and/or medications intravenously gets them directly into the bloodstream to become quickly and 100 percent absorbed.
Mantell said she began investigating IV hydration and vitamin therapy when she started working on a master’s degree in nutrition.
While she’ll provide the trendier treatments for jet lag and hangovers, her real focus is on getting people the nutrients they need, she said.
Ideally, everyone would eat healthy food and have a healthy gut and 100 percent of the nutrients they eat would be absorbed, according to Mantell.
However, she said, “When you look at the average American diet, we aren’t getting the kinds of nutrients we need.”
And even when people do eat right, life can take a toll. Stress, for example, can rapidly deplete certain vitamins in the body, Mantell said.
Handled with care
Certain health conditions, such as Crohn’s and celiac diseases, interfere with nutrient absorption in the body. And so do some medications, among them proton pump inhibitors that reduce acid production in the gut, “and you need acid to digest your foods,” Mantell said.
She considers it important that IV hydration therapies be administered in consultation with a doctor after a review of the patient’s medical history and testing for vitamin deficiencies.
“I’m not going to just throw IV nutrition at people,” she said.
Kittle, who was an emergency room nurse for nine years, said he thought he’d be serving mainly students at Hydrations, but most of his clients have been people who work in health care.
He does both in-home and in-clinic treatments, and recently added a treatment bus that can be taken to community events, such as marathons and big parties.
He said he uses the same sterile equipment and solutions people get in the hospital, but without such emergency room disadvantages as a long wait when the condition isn’t life-threatening and exposure to other people’s illnesses.
Like Mantell, Kittle said he takes a complete medical history from his clients. And he works under standing orders from a physician.
“I’ve done thousands of IVs, so I’m pretty good at it,” he said.
The popular Myers’ Cocktail, which is an IV treatment with vitamins and minerals, is available at Champaign IV drip bars. But claims about its benefits vary.
IVme calls it a treatment that “covers all bases” and Hydration Space says on its website that the Myers’ Cocktail helps with fatigue, seasonal allergies and fibromyalgia.
Last year, as a result of a Federal Trade Commission enforcement action, iV Bars — a clinic operator in Texas and Colorado — emailed a notice to consumers who bought the Myers’ Cocktail prior to removing FTC-challenged health claims from its advertising.
“Contrary to the company’s marketing materials, studies have not shown that the Myers’ Cocktail is an effective treatment for any disease, including nine specific diseases, ranging from cancer to multiple sclerosis and diabetes,” the company said.
Rosenbery said she’s tried the oxygen bar at IVme and felt as though her head was much clearer afterward.
“Oxygen feels clean and crisp when you breathe it in,” she said. “For me, it’s mental clarity.”
Kittle said oxygen bar treatment effects are temporary, so he views the oxygen bar at his own clinic as something people largely do for fun and relaxation.
He offers it with aromatherapy so people can breathe in 98 percent pure oxygen scented with essential oils to help with headache relief and other ailments, he said.
“It’s fun to sit there and enjoy the different scents,” he said.
Why stepping outdoors and taking in breaths of fresh air may not have the same effect is that only about one-fifth of what’s in the air is oxygen, Kittle said.
“The air we breathe is 21 percent oxygen, and we’ve gotten used to that,” he said. “We’ve learned to survive on hamburger, but when we get a filet mignon, we enjoy it.”