Infusion Therapy

Pattie Cinelli getting a B-12 shot from Nurse Lindsay.

The first time I received a vitamin injection was from a medical doctor that I was seeing in the late 1990s. He gave me B-12 shots to help me be less depressed, have more energy and boost my metabolism. I loved the feeling of well-being and energy I got after my shots. I tried to recreate those feelings by taking B-12 sublingually and through a pill, but neither gave me the same effects.

I resumed my B-12 shots on Capitol Hill also administered by a physician. When I moved to Delaware, I discovered the IV Drip Bar in Rehoboth which offers shots and IV infusions that can help you stay well or get better. And recently I discovered Radiance MedSpa DC, which moved from Dupont Circle to Capitol Hill in May. Included in its offerings of advanced aesthetics that doesn’t include surgery, Radiance offers injectable treatments and IV drip therapy.

We consume the majority of our nutrients through foods and fluids. However, sometimes this isn’t enough to fully nourish our bodies. Our whole foods often are lacking nutrients for a variety of reasons. Processed food often has more chemicals and preservatives than nutrients. When we are stressed, injured or ill our nutrients get depleted. Effectiveness is affected by the age of a vitamin pill (how long has it been sitting on the shelf) or its quality (not all are created equal). We only absorb about 30 to 40 percent of the oral vitamin, said Matt McKinnis, co-owner of IV Drip Bar.

Infusion therapy can be good when you need to give your body a boost. Hydration is important for optimal function and wellness. About 60 percent of men’s bodies is water; 55 percent of women (fat holds less water than muscle). We usually don’t know when we are dehydrated. Symptoms can manifest as a headache, fatigue, dry mouth, lips or eyes, dark urine or dizziness.  “I didn’t know how bad I felt until I got an infusion and felt so much better,” said McKinnis.

What is IV Infusion Therapy?

Vitamin IV therapy and infusions allow nutrients to be administered to the body intravenously. When delivered directly into the blood stream, vitamins bypass our digestive system where many nutrients get lost and not absorbed. The actual procedure only takes about 30 to 60 minutes, and clients will normally feel benefits for about three to five days. As vitamin levels normalize, the benefits can last longer.

According to the Washington Post, IV vitamin therapy was pioneered by John Myers of Baltimore in the 1960s as a method to treat conditions such as asthma attacks, migraines and fibromyalgia. The Myers Cocktail, a popular infusion formula, was named after him.

Candice Conaway, Radiance Medspa DC director, said her facility offers infusions for rest and recovery, hydration, hangovers, an immune boost as well as the Myers Cocktail infusion. “We also offer a weight loss formula (B-12 and different amino acids) which I find to be useful for others things than weight loss,” said Conaway. “Clients are using it not to lose weight but to balance their system.”

Before getting any treatment you must fill out an intake form, said McKinnis. At Radiance Medspa DC Conaway said clients also meet with a nurse to determine which would be best for their needs.

Oral v. IV

When we consume vitamins orally, they pass through the stomach and intestines where they are broken down by gastrointestinal enzymes. Then your body can absorb them into your bloodstream. However, not all vitamins are created equal. Some stay lodged in your intestine and never break down to be absorbed.

Taking vitamins through an IV allows the vitamins and minerals to enter your body through veins and bypass the intestines so you can absorb nutrients 10-20 times more. You can also avoid intestinal upset.

Who is It For?

“IV Infusion Therapy is for anyone seeking to find balance and build their immune system,” said Conaway. “It can be highly effective. You feel energy at end of the day. You find you are sleeping better, your hair is shiny and your skin is glowing. It can help you manage stresses of daily life.”

Conaway also pointed out that is great for someone coming off an illness. It can also assist the immune system of someone traveling either before or after a trip. “I like thinking on my feet. (After an infusion) I feel sharper and I move better. I started taking B vitamins for PMS and it really helped with menopause symptoms. It can really help with hot flashes as well.”

McKinnis said people who would not be a candidate for an infusion are those with congestive heart failure, kidney disease, on dialysis, end-stage pulmonary disease or any known allergies to any of the infusion components.

IV Drip Bar co-owner Matt McKinnis getting an infusion before a trip to Florida.

IV infusion therapy and vitamin supplementation are not FDA approved. However, many other practices used to stay well also are not FDA approved. Most medical practitioners don’t do IVs for wellness. “If you are dehydrated they’d send you to a hospital,” said McKinnis. Most insurances don’t cover the procedure, but both Conaway and McKinnis said some health savings account cards and flex spending accounts may cover the treatments. Injections and infusions can be either preventative or restorative. It’s up to each one of us to decide what works best.

For more information: contact Radiance Medspa DC: 202-483-0008 or in Rehoboth contact IV Drip Bar: 302-396-6466 or

Pattie Cinelli is a health and fitness professional and journalist who has been writing her column for more than 25 years. She focuses on non-traditional ways to stay healthy, get fit and get well. Please email her with questions or column suggestions at: