“Ready to get dripped?” It was more of a rhetorical question, as the impressively muscled man was already leading us into the anteroom at ThrIVe Drip Spa. Within seconds, a cheerful nurse had hooked our arm up, quickly and painlessly, to a highlighter-yellow IV bag full of—well, what exactly, we weren’t sure.
The spa, open since early April near I-10 and Chimney Rock, is Houston’s first center for intravenous vitamin therapy (IVT), a new-to-Houston health trend. The facility treats up to 12 patients at a time, pumping spa-goers’ systems with a “multivitamin-in-a-bag” in eight different 1,000-milliliter mixtures, which promise everything from hydration and detox- ing to boosted libidos and slimmer waists.
Although it features marble accents, chandeliers and chilled coconut water, the place—founded by orthopedic surgeon Eugene Lou and his brother, plastic surgeon Derek Lou, who serves as the spa’s medical director—feels more like a doctor’s office than anything else.
Baltimore physician Dr. John Myers pioneered IVT in the ’60s, concocting a formula of nutrients and vitamins—meant to be administered intravenously—for treating conditions as varied as asthma, fatigue, fibromyalgia and cardiovascular disease. Today, his Myers’ Cocktail mixture is known primarily as a hangover cure popular with celebrities like Rihanna and Madonna, and it has the price tag to match: A traditional Myers’ drip, the mix we tried, is $205 at ThrIVe.
During our session, staffers covered us in blankets, which we appreciated, as the chilly room combined with the refrigerator-cold IV bag dropped our body temp fast. And the longer we sat there, staring at the bag, the more we wondered about its contents, surprised at ourselves for not having inquired before submitting to the needle.
After just 45 minutes, it was all over. A nurse unhooked us, said our skin might bruise, warned us not to lift anything heavy in the next hour, and made to leave. Catching her, we asked what exactly had been emptied from the bag into our system. She said she didn’t know and referred us to Eugene Lou.
Reached on the phone a week later, Dr. Lou declined to give us the exact recipe of his blend. “There’s nothing in there that you wouldn’t see in a multi-vitamin,” he said. “There’s thiamine, folate, B12, Vitamin C. We’re not throwing out snake oil at all.”
We recounted our experience following our drip, explaining that we’d immediately felt a small spike in our appetite, followed by a crash that felt like coming down off a sugar high and the formation of a bruise on our arm at the injection site, which grew larger as the week progressed and was accompanied by swelling. It was all normal, said Dr. Lou, who recommended icing down and massaging the area.
As for the health benefits, he said, drippers should experience more energy, less fatigue, improved sleep, an increase in endurance and strength while exercising, and the ability to quickly bounce back from or prevent illnesses—over time, of course, which is why the spa offers membership packages in addition to one-off sessions. The therapy, he explained, most benefits high-performance athletes, the dehydrated (hello, hang- over), and people who’ve undergone gastric bypass and cannot absorb vitamins.
Dr. Lou said one need only look to any hospital to grasp the benefits of IVs. “This has been going on since the beginning of modern medicine basically, and so anyone who wants to say that IV fluids are not essential or critical to helping take care of people, I would say you’re going to dispel what’s considered a standard,” he said. “It’s almost laughable to say it doesn’t work.”
Maybe next time we need to do a CrossFit workout first. Or come in after a night on the town.