As a runner, you're probably always looking to recover faster, right? You want to recover faster, you want to recover better, so you can be stronger and faster as a runner. That's what you and I do, right? We want to be better, faster runners. That's why you're here with me on the channel. So, click that subscribe button so you can get more videos about running and being a better runner.
But when we're talking about recovery, you may have seen that new thing that's out, that IV therapy, and you're wondering, is it effective? What does it do? Is it even safe? Well, I'm Jessie Funk and on today's episode of Runner’s High, we're going to explore IV therapy a little more in detail.
I think it's reasonable to say that recovery has kind of become a discipline unto itself. Is this thing that we do to try to be better because we're fixated on doing things, right? We can't just do nothing. We must do something, it has to be something we can do to be better instead of just sitting around. Our impatience is really notable, at least in the North American culture.
A while back, I interviewed journalist and author, Christie Aschwanden, about her book, Good To Go. And in that book, she writes about all kinds of recovery methods; anything from ice baths to the most far-flung idea you can come up with.
During my interview with her, I asked her about IV therapy because it doesn't really come up in the book. And she covered a lot of different ground, she went through everything, really kind of debunking a lot of these recovery methods as useless or at best a placebo.
So, I wanted to know what was her opinion on IV therapy? And she said she tried a lot of different methods. Again, all of the book, she tried everything, was offered all these different packages, and even was offered free sessions to do IV therapy, and it is the one thing she would not do.
Now, one person's misgivings does not mean that something is completely bunk. But considering she is somewhat of an expert in the area of recovery, I think it means that we should take time to figure out why would she not do it and are there any risks.
Now, if you want to see that interview I had with Christie, stay to the end. Always hit subscribe so you can get all my interviews with experts on the Smarter Athlete Podcast. But at the end of this video, I will link to that interview. You can see my whole talk with her on all the different recovery options, the book, all that kind of stuff.
So, IV therapy kind of comes about because of this guy, Dr. John Myers, who makes the ?? 03:04>, Myers cocktail, and he uses it with patients to help treat chronic conditions. Now we're still talking about a medical setting where he's using this regular IV to try to help people with chronic conditions live better lives, basically.
I mean, that's kind of the point of doctors, right is to try to help us live happier, healthier lives when we get down to treatment and all that kind of stuff. Obviously, there's nuances but if you want to make a generalization, that's their job. And he found this to be effective.
So, if you kind of frame the idea that chronic fatigue and just being tired in general, and worn out from exercising is a chronic condition because we are constantly working out breaking our bodies down and need to recover. Then it makes sense where this idea came from that we can take this IV and use it to recover faster. Make it so that we can become better versions of ourselves, at least in the running spectrum.
Now, the upside here or the theory at least, is that intravenously, that IV, we can take in nutrients and absorb them faster than through an oral route. There's a whole difference here in terms of absorption. When we take things orally, we have to digest them, they have to be broken down, absorbed through our digestive system, then transported versus just taking them straight into your bloodstream and then being distributed directly that way.
Given that idea, it kind of sounds nice, right? We can recover a little bit faster. We're going to be back to working out harder. The sooner we can work out harder, the faster we can get better. All these things sound like positives, okay.
Now, there is some research that would suggest that getting those nutrients intravenously isn't really going to make as big an impact as if we’d just take them orally, which will be sufficient. We do have to look at the potential downsides of doing IV therapy. Now, this is a big caveat, because it depends on who's administering the IV.
And really, it should only be a licensed medical professional. But as of right now, as far as I'm aware, there's not a ton of regulation overseeing these kinds of businesses because they’re so new. You have to remember or keep in mind that business often is trying to run ahead of regulation. And there's a balance to be had there.
As a different example, if you remember when drones came out, drones were everywhere. People could use it for all kinds of different things. And then regulations several years later started catching up and saying, “Hey, no, you can't use this for commercial use without a license. You can't fly in this area, all these kinds of things.” Technology and business run ahead of regulation. So, keep that in mind.
But if you're not having that IV administered by a professional, and even if you are but less of a chance in that case, one of the issues with using an IV is IV infiltration. Which is basically the IV is not inserted properly, and those fluids are going to go into the spaces around those veins instead of the veins themselves.
So, you can get your pockets of fluid built up inside of wherever that IV is inserted, most likely your arm instead of it actually going into your veins so that you absorb the nutrients. Not that this is going to happen, but it can and that is a risk I think you need to understand.
Another thing is that you have the risk of infection anytime you're inserting a needle. So, although I'm sure there are plenty of operators that make sure everything is fine; I'm not personally comfortable outside of that medical setting having needles used on me. Maybe that's my own personal misgiving. But even in a medical setting, at a hospital, the risk of infection is still a potential possibility.
Again, we're all talking about numbers here. And usually, in a medical setting, it's going to be a very, very low number. And if you do get an infection, you're already at a hospital in that case. But in this case, you are not.
Another thing you have to look at is the cost of it. It's not covered by insurance in almost every case. So, each treatment is 150 to $250, depending on where you are in the country and the location that you're talking about, which is a pretty big chunk of change.
Even if you are a very, very wealthy person earning high six figures, and it becomes a no big deal to you; you have to think about the cost to benefit, where you could probably spend that money somewhere else and get bigger benefits. So, I think the downsides really kind of mount up against the potential upside.
The other potential issue is that even if everything goes right, there is the potential that you get too much of a good thing. There are some nutrients like potassium that can cause problems in too high quantities, especially if you have underlying issues.
So, if you want to go this route, you want to ignore my suggestion to you, please make sure that you're having these things administered by a medical professional, and it's not just somebody who's taken the basic phlebotomy course and knows how to insert an IV. You want medical supervision in this kind of case.
Now, that being said, whenever I speak to experts on nutrition on the Smart Athlete Podcast, which I mentioned earlier with Christie, those experts in nutrition often tell me almost kind of across the board that we're going to get all the nutrition we need in the food that we eat when we eat a proper balanced diet; when we eat good things: fruits, vegetables, some meat, you know, eat the good stuff.
Don't just eat ice cream. I love ice cream and I have a pension for it. But you have to eat other things. When you eat those other things, you're gonna get the nutrients you need. You don't necessarily need that IV to replace whatever.
And some of them actually even suggest that electrolytes are going to be something that we don't have to replace on their own through sports drink, either. So, they're skeptical of that. And Christie talks about that in her book as well. That if you need even electrolytes that you will naturally gravitate towards things that are salty to replace those electrolytes.
So, keep all those things in mind when you're trying to consider these things. The desire to push your body to the next level is completely understandable. But you have to temper your desire with a little bit of reasoning or rationality or sanity when you're trying to think about to what lengths should I go to get to the next level?
My personal recommendation is to avoid these places. The only case where I could see these being necessary is when we're talking about like point 1% of the athletes. These are the top-level pros that have very high demands on their body and a very short turnaround. So, they absolutely need some kind of intervention to help them perform at a top-level consistently back to back to back.
If you are like me, and even just a college or high-level amateur, there's pretty much zero need, and it's going to be a waste of money as well. Because you could spend that money in other places like getting a nice mattress and sleeping well, to recover faster, instead of spending it on this, which is going to again, have more downsides than the potential upsides.
So, if you want to see that interview I had with Christie where she talks about the book, talks about recovery options, and we go through a lot of different things; that should be coming up on the screen here shortly. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.