Wealthy hooked on treatment that drips with controversy

25 November 2015 - 02:25 By Katharine Child

Need a monthly pick-me-up? Wealthy Joburg residents are turning to vitamin intravenous (IV) drips to lift their game.But they come at a price.Tired, jetlagged or severely hung-over consumers are flocking to Reviv SA in Sandton for vitamin drips costing between R1000 and R2999, said CEO Sayed Mia.He said the drips put vitamins directly into a client's veins, bypassing the digestive system, where some vitamins get lost.Clients at the clinic include a high-level businessman and a small-town KwaZulu-Natal mayor who had a drip party at his house with friends and family.Recently 25 Cricket SA staff members had vitamin IV drips on their "wellness day".According to Mia, one drip is for hydration while the others offer a mixture of vitamins and amino acids and glutathione to boost energy, vitality, skin tone and offer "wellness".But some doctors are sceptical."Look upon it as the great vitamin health scam. Don't take them," said intensive care specialist Professor Guy Richards.Evidence has mounted in recent years that vitamins offer no health benefits, do not improve life expectancy and could even be harmful."Only people actually diagnosed with deficiencies should take vitamins - in general vitamins, IV or oral, are toxic and increase mortality," said Richards."No supplement, including vitamins, has any health benefit."Medical firm Harris Steinman has warned that IV drips have risks.Breaking the skin can lead to infections and air embolisms can occur if the drip has an air bubble.Drips can also cause inflammation of veins.Research published in Annals of Internal Medicine found vitamins had no effect in preventing major diseases or lengthening lifespan. It concluded that vitamins could be harmful.Mia countered that, after 50000 treatments since Reviv started operating, there had been no adverse effects.Vitamin drips should, according to the Medicines Act, be administered based on a script but the Reviv clinic provided a Times reporter with a drip despite the fact that she did not have a script.

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