Hangover cure IV drips are cropping up all over the US (and abroad) with the promise of taking away the pain from your night of drinking.
It’s a radical approach to hangover cures and involves medical grade treatment at special IV rehydration clinics.
Some clinics even send out a nurse within 45 minutes, straight to your home.
But do IV drips actually cure hangovers?
In this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at the science behind IV hangover drips to see whether its worth the premium price tag.
We’ll also take a closer look at the ingredients and side effects to help you decide whether this approach is best for you.
What are hangover IV drips?
IV hangover drips are exactly as they sound – fluid filled bags with added vitamins, minerals and medicines to help “cure” or recover from your hangover.
Each bag is usually a litre in size meaning that you’ll be instantly hydrated by this amount.
The reputable companies use registered nurses and practitioners to administer the fluid via a cannula inserted into a large vein.
It’s about as painful as having a simple blood test done.
Most of the IV drips are flushed through your vein in about 45 to 60 minutes.
Once it’s finished, the cannula is removed which is much less painful than the insertion stage and you’re free to go.
How do hangover IV drips work?
To answer this question we first need to cover how hangovers effect your body in the first place.
Alcohol causes hangovers in two ways – Dehydration and Oxidative damage.
Alcohol is a diuretic. This means that it stimulates your kidneys to produce more fluid than you are consuming.
In fact, for every pint of beer you drink, you’ll lose an extra 280mls of fluid.
So if you have 4 pints throughout an evening, you’ll have over 1litre deficit in water.
You’ll probably be very familiar with the sensation of “breaking the seal” and having to go the toilet all the time on your night out. Well this is the reason why!
Dehydration is a major cause of hangovers and can leave you with a headache, lack of energy and “brain fog”.
Your liver breaks down alcohol to produce energy and to clear it from your blood stream.
One of the main toxic by-products produced as a result of this breakdown is called acetaldehyde.
To put it simply, this is a highly toxic substance which wreaks havoc on your insides because it reacts with the cells it comes into contact.
This process is known as oxidative damage.
Your liver produces antioxidants to clear up these harmful by-products before they can cause too much damage.
However, antioxidants will be used up and depleted during periods of over indulgence.
There are several studies which have shown that this process of oxidative damage leads to inflammation and worse hangovers.
So how do IV drips come into this?
IV vitamin drips provide a quick infusion of 1 litre of water which is a direct way of replacing some of the lost fluid from your night of drinking.
In addition, antioxidant vitamins and minerals are used to support your liver with its recovery.
Depending on which company you go for, some will even add IV painkillers and anti-inflammatories which will soothe your discomfort.
This brings us to the next section where we take a deeper look at the some of the main ingredients you’ll find in a hangover IV drip.
IV Hangover cure ingredients
Most of the IV companies offer several different “packages”. They all use a standard base fluid and then add various medications and vitamins to help you bounce back after a night out.
The basic packages just offer IV fluids and painkiller, whereas the more expensive packages include anti-sickness medications and vitamins.
Theres a big mark-up in price for the addition of a few ingredients so you need to have your wits about you.
Most of the IV companies right now use Hartmann’s solution (a.k.a compound sodium lactate). It’s a standard fluid used in hospitals around the world.
It contains sodium, potassium and calcium.
The pain medications:
The pain medications used are acetominophen/paracetamol in IV form. Because of its direct infusion into your vein, it works much faster as has a stronger effect compared to taking it orally.
Some solutions will also include an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen.
The anti-sickness medications:
Theres a handful of different anti-sickness medications which the IV drip companies can use. These include Ondansetron, Cyclizine, Metoclopramide and Domperidone.
All of them work slightly differently and have varying side effect profiles, but they should all reduce symptoms of nausea to a certain extent.
The only vitamin used for IV hangover drips are from the B-complex family.
They are essential in almost every metabolic function in your body including breaking down carbohydrates and fat to form energy as well as being precursors to many of the detoxifying liver enzymes.
Therefore in theory, B-vitamins should help improve your energy levels and clear more of alcohols toxic by-products from your blood stream.
Does an IV drip cure a hangover?
Taking a closer look at the ingredients, we can see that hangover drips are not hangover cures.
They can help rehydrate you as well as take away some of the pain caused by alcohol.
Think of them like a band-aid over a wound. The damage is already done by the time you have your IV drip.
Ultimately, they are there to help you reduce the hangover severity. And for this purpose, they do work.
If you’re expecting a miracle cure, you’ll be disappointed. At the end of the day it’s only water, painkillers and B vitamins.
Could you take all of these orally and achieve similar results?
Yes you probably could.
We have to be fair and say that administration of fluids, painkillers and vitamins IV will definitely work faster and more effectively than taking the same thing orally.
The reason is, direct infusion into the vein by-passes “first pass metabolism”.
When you take medications orally, they are absorbed by your gut and processed by your liver before being let out into your circulation.
As a result, you’ll only actually absorb less than 50% of the drug taken orally compared to IV (depending on the drug of course).
However, the pain of spending upwards of $200 may not be worth the added benefit of IV for most of us.
Are there any side effects?
Generally speaking, the IV drips including the pain killer and anti-sickness medications are well tolerated.
But as with all medications, some people do experience side effects.
For example, common side effects of anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen include rash and stomach ache.
The anti-sickness medication Cyclizine can make people feel dizzy and disorientated.
If you’ve got any history of kidney or heart problems, it’s important to be aware than infusion of a litre of fluid can have significant detrimental effects by causing fluid overload if administered too quickly.
IV hangover drips VS prevention supplements
The problem is, IV hangover drips are administered once you’re already hangover.
This means that the damage caused by alcohol and its toxic by-products has already been done.
Your body will mount an inflammatory response as a result of inflammation caused by acetaldehyde in addition to dehydration from alcohols diuretic effect.
By this stage, your hangover will have taken hold with full force.
Although trying to remedy this with an IV drip to rehydrate and take the pain away, its not the best solution that’s out there.
The key to your battle with hangovers is prevention rather than “cure”. Anything you can do to prevent the worst hangovers should come first.
Hangover supplements are designed to be taken straight after your night out so its ingredients can work while you’re sleeping.
They usually contain a combination of antioxidant vitamins, amino acids and herbal extracts which help clear alcohol and its by-products BEFORE too much damage is caused.
You can find out more about the best hangover prevention products following the link below.
Best IV fluids for hangovers
There are several companies around the US and worldwide which offer hangover IV drip services.
Some will even come to your home or place of work to give you your fix.
The leading IV companies are:
The Hangover Club
Based in New York City, The Hangover Club offer two clinics (Called their “drip lounges”) which you can attend as well as an in-home concierge service.
If you go to their lounge, the cheapest offer starts from $119 and goes all the way up to $200.
Their basic package is just fluid and a painkiller. Whereas their top product includes additional glutathione and B-vitamins.
Another NYC based company with additional services in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Palm Springs, Inland Empire, the San Francisco Bay Area.
Drip Hydration only have one option for a hangover IV drip which costs $279!
It only contains fluid and a painkiller as well which isn’t great value for money
Drip doctors have clinics all over California.
Their standard package costs $150 and contains fluid and B-vitamins
The premium IV hangover package costs $250 and contains fluids, B-vitamins and Glutathione.
So essentially you’re paying $100 for glutathione – pretty steep increase in price we think.
Seeing as you’ll have this drip once hungover, the omission of painkillers and anti-sickness medicines won’t make this drip as effective.
After all, a dose of B-vitamins and glutathione isn’t going to do too much once your already hungover.
Hangover Heaven IV drip
Im not sure anyone associated hangovers with heaven, but this company includes a comprehensive list of ingredients in the their drip.
Despite their strange choice of name, their IV drip contains fluids, painkillers and anti-sickness medicine, anti-heartburn medicine as well as vitamins.
This Las Vegas based company even give you 20 minutes of oxygen!
We’re not sure how oxygen will help, but it probably adds to the overall experience.
They offer In-room concierge services as well as in their clinics and prices range from $200 – $329.
Who are hangover IV drips made for?
If you’re planning to go hard, party all night and drink like there’s no tomorrow, then hangover IV drips may be the solution for you.
They’re specifically designed to help put back some of fluids and nutrients lost from your night of debauchery.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a simple, easy to access hangover prevention remedy for a moderate nights drinking, then IV drips may be a little excessive.
Hangover IV drip pros and cons
- Solid rehydration with minimum 1 litre of fluid guaranteed.
- Medicines which are proven to help headache and nausea.
- 100% absorption as ingredients given directly through vein.
- Very expensive.
- Time consuming.
- Does not prevent hangovers.
- Invasive procedure which requires IV cannulation.
- Vitamins not too helpful once you’re already hungover.
Anything else to consider?
When it comes to hangovers, prevention is always your safest best.
Drinking water between each alcohol drink and having a meal before going out can a long way in preventing the worst hangovers.
Sticking to lighter coloured drinks can also make a difference. The reason is, darker coloured drinks contain more congeners.
Like acetaldehyde, congers are known to cause inflammation and significantly worsen your hangover symptoms.
But I guess that needs no explanation, everyone knows that whisky and red wine hangovers are the worst.
Adding a hangover prevention supplement to your recovery ritual can also make a big difference in your symptoms.
There you have it, our comprehensive guide to hangover IV drips and hydration therapies.
Overall, we feel that IV drips can certainly help you recover quicker when hungover.
However it comes at a significant price. You’ll be set back at least a few hundred dollars and have to go through the effort of attending a specific clinic to have it infused in most cases.
Also by the time you have your infusion, you’ll already by hungover and any recovery attempt will only help to a certain extent.
We always feel hangover prevention is more practical and better for you. This is where a good hangover supplement can come to the rescue.