It’s 9 a.m. on a Monday and Matt Morrison relaxes in a comfy leather recliner with an IV line in his arm. The husky bartender at the Rehoboth Ale House admits to having a few too many the night before.
“I worked ’til 2 o’clock in the morning, and then we hung out for a couple of hours,’’ Morrison says. “It’s too early in the morning for me to be here, but I do feel a lot better.”
Morrison is with four co-workers at Revive Hydration Drip Bar, getting infused with a blend of B-complex vitamins and electrolytes. The combination has a catchy name: “Too Much Booze.”
Revive shares office space with a yoga studio that’s above a weightlifting gym along Coastal Highway. But the all-caps sign outside — HANGOVER IV DRIPS — definitely catches the eye.
It’s one of three new businesses which offer intravenous vitamin and antioxidant drips that opened this summer along a four-mile stretch near Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach, one of the region’s summer tourist magnets. The others are franchises of LifeMed Institute and IV Nutrition.
Ale House owner Adam Newman treated himself and the employees to a concoction of B-complex vitamins and electrolytes. Registered nurses inserted the needles.
The cost of the dose administered over about 40 minutes is $185.
Newman says he only had a few beers the previous night “but I already feel energized and a little better, and hopefully it’ll keep going up. If I was a little more hungover, I think it would have been a more drastic change. But I’m just feeling good.”
Too Much Booze is just one of the recipes on Revive’s menu. There’s “Too Much Sun”, “Too Much Exercise,” and of course — this is a partying beach town after all — “Too Much EVERYTHING.”
They also offer vitamin shots at $30 to $50 a pop. The Ale House crew got a B-12 shot for an energy boost.
Co-owner Tania Pritz is a retired chiropractor who touts the health benefits of the drips and shots. She says the body doesn’t absorb traditional oral vitamins well, whereas the IV line gets the nutrients right into the bloodstream.
Businesses like hers have sprouted up because too few people have a disciplined nutrition and fitness regimen, Pritz said.
“Are you eating well? Whole foods in their natural state, organic?” she asks. “Are you getting enough rest? Are you managing your stress? Are you exercising? Most people are not doing this.’’
Pritz asserts that the IV drip can rectify those deficiencies in diet and lifestyle.
“This is a way that you can supplement your health and invest in your health versus waiting until you get sick and breaking down and entering the very poorly run health care system, which is sick care,’’ she says. “This is a part of contributing to your own wellness.”
Revive also takes the IV drips to people’s homes, even poolside. Partying fraternity brothers used it at their beach pad, both pre-game, and post-game. And bachelorette and bachelor parties have also scheduled infusions.
‘Generally not harmful, really not needed’
But are IV nutrition drips safe, and do they truly provide a health benefit?
Dr. Sam Torbati of Beverly Hills, California, is the director of emergency medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. He has plenty of friends who have tried the treatments popularized by Hollywood celebrities such as model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen.
He calls intravenous drips an unnecessary “fad” that’s nonetheless safe as long as a trained clinician administers the doses using sterile methods and the recipient doesn’t have serious heart or other health issues.
“For individuals that are otherwise healthy, they can achieve the same outcome by just drinking water and taking a multivitamin,” Torbati said. “Or if they have a balanced diet, they don’t even need the extra vitamins. So generally not harmful, generally not really needed.”
The doctor stresses that no one should expect long-term benefits.
“Will it enhance your health? No. Will it make you live longer? No. Will it cure cancer or other ailments? No. It’s just like a lot of things that can make people feel better,’’ he said.
Pritz and co-owner Matt McKinnis stress that they have a medical director who oversees their business, and that people are questioned about their health history before getting infused.
Torbati urges people with a hangover to drink lots of fluids, perhaps take an over-the-counter pain med, and rest — not head back to the bar.
Registered dietician Bonnie Taub-Dix says Las Vegas is also a popular place for the reputed hangover cure, and that it’s no surprise that people who drink too much feel somewhat better.
“You’re probably dehydrated and that hydration probably makes you feel better,’’ Taub-Dix said. “But otherwise, it seems like that people go for it for a quick fix. But you’re really not fixing very much at all.”
Plus, she says, it’s really pricey.
“If you want vitamins, you know, you could go to a pharmacy and buy-one-get-one-free and you’ll spend a lot less money than you would going for one of these IV solutions,” she said.
‘Ready to go to the beach or back to the bar’
Such concerns from health authorities don’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Ale House crew. Molly Hilferty is a manager and server.
“I think hydration is the key to success,’’ she said while the fluids were entering her bloodstream. “And I was so exhausted this morning. I’m already feeling more awake. Like I could barely open my eyes this morning. I was so tired.”
Hilferty worked all weekend and treated herself to “a fair amount” of her favorite alcoholic beverage, Tito’s vodka.
In the small laboratory that adjoins the infusion room, nurse Nancy Taylor raves about IV nutrition while mixing doses from bottles kept in a refrigerator. Her main job is at a hospital and she loves moonlighting at Revive.
“This is happy, healthy nursing,’’ Taylor said. “Everybody cares about what they’re doing, and they care about their health and they want to feel better.”
“Even after they drink like a fish or sit on the beach all day, it’s nice to watch people come in feeling kind of green around the gills and then turn around and feel great and ready to go to the beach or back to the bar.”