Kendall Jenner was reportedly hospitalized before the Academy Awards after a bad reaction to a vitamin IV drip. While it’s not clear why she received the IV drip, the treatment is popular with celebrities as red carpet prep for a quick dose of electrolytes and hydration. But it also comes with inherent risks.
Dr. Travis Stork, ER physician, host of The Doctors and member of PEOPLE’s Health Squad, explains that the trend started as a hangover cure due to a mix of B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium.
“Vitamin drips and IVs after a night of drinking are an expensive option and definitely not a cure-all,” he tells PEOPLE. “They can provide hydration as well as electrolytes, which you may be lacking after a night of partying or over-imbibing. Despite the hype, though, there are no ‘cures’ for a hangover other than time, since many symptoms are from the buildup of toxic alcohol metabolites.”
As vitamin IV drips have increased in popularity, private businesses have popped up to provide at-home treatments for celebrities, like The IV Doc and Drip Doctors. But Dr. Stork warns that the treatments are not FDA approved — and may be risky.
“Any IV usage involves a small risk of infection — you can also experience pain, bleeding or bruising if the needle misses the vein,” he explains. “More serious complications of an IV treatment can include a blood clot or inflammation of the vein. Although very rare, improperly inserted IVs can create a stroke-causing air embolism or cause the fluids to leak into nearby tissue. Additionally, some vitamins in large doses can be toxic.”
“These types of IV therapies are not FDA endorsed or regulated,” he warns. “The places or people that offer these treatments may not always be legit, so be careful.”
Dr. Stork adds that the biggest risk comes from the person administering the IV.
“The real danger is if you are being treated by a charlatan,” he says. “It’s so important to go somewhere reputable if you are going to do this, because otherwise it is anyone’s guess what they are putting in the IV bags.”
And Dr. Stork wouldn’t recommend the treatment for the average person — partially because of the cost, and mostly because it’s unnecessary.
“If you have the money to burn and use a reputable service, it’s perfectly reasonable to do it,” he says. “Having said that, I see no necessary reason to get an IV after drinking unless you can’t keep down fluids. If that is the case you may need to see a doctor.”
And if you are considering an IV drip for a hangover, Dr. Stork advises skipping the infusion and riding out the hangover the old-fashioned way.
“As both a doctor and a human being who has admittedly experienced a hangover, what I do is drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes before bed and in the morning, I eat a nutrient rich meal in the AM and give my body the one thing it needs to cure a hangover: time,” he says. “And once I start to feel better I repeat over and over, ‘Never again!’ “