The picture of ‘perfect health’ is always changing with the times.
Throughout history, we’ve reached conclusions on a person’s condition based on their appearance; but the warning signs have been different depending on the decade.
As recently as the turn of the 20th century, for example, a red-faced, rotund patient could stroll into a doctor’s office puffing on a cigarette and enjoy a diagnosis of being in fine fettle. Back then, a heavyset physique and smoking habit weren’t anything to worry about.
But as science has evolved, so have our ideas of what it means to be healthy – and exactly how that looks.
One of the most astonishing interpretational changes, however, has without doubt been the IV Drip.
A figure sitting in a chair, hooked up to a tube, staring at a television set was the portrait of a sick person mere years ago. Nowadays, people actually pay for the pleasure.
Intravenous (IV) therapy – which involves inserting a tube into the arm and pumping solutions directly into the bloodstream – has exploded in popularity over the past five years or so.
Historically, IVs have been used to aid recovery; a tried and tested method of getting essential nutrients to those who cannot consume them the ordinary way. But now, they’re being used to treat people before they even get ill.
Nutrient therapy was first seen outside of hospital settings on Instagram accounts, with A-listers posing alongside bags of liquid at flattering angles for Instagram selfies and likes.
It was initially dismissed as a fleeting celebrity fad, but several years down the line, IV drips have only gotten more popular; with the solutions now being soaked up by the mainstream.
Well, one reason may be due to the growing trend of health awareness in modern culture.
Statistics show that people are spending hundreds of pounds on health and fitness supplements every year these days; wanting to learn more about their bodies and how to keep them in top condition.
REVIV is one of the growing numbers of specialist venues set up to give people access to that kind of information and treatment – including the IV drips themselves.
One of these sites is based in Barton Square in Manchester – and it has all the hallmarks of your typical health clinic.
Treatment rooms with crisp-clean chairs, storage tables topped with carefully-arranged medical utensils; and slender steel drip stands being wheeled around by masked nurses.
But the people who come here aren’t patients. They’re clients.
Hundreds walked through the door and asked to be hooked up to drips in 2019 – but the treatment is also hugely popular with staff.
“I have one every day,” one REVIV nurse tells us, grinning from behind her face shield.
“I love it.”
Like a high-class restaurant
Manchester’s REVIV site is slick, shiny and stylish from top to bottom (you’d do well to find a smudge on a mirror here). But still, as classy and well-kept as it looks, it’s far from exclusive.
There are in fact 90 other clinics just like it scattered right the way around the world – and a reminder of the brand’s global presence is splashed across the walls (including mentions of metropolis’ such as Las Vegas, Johannesburg and Hong Kong).
The Manchester venue books over 3,400 appointments per year – and a large majority are for IV drips.
“Oh yeah, we’re often really busy,” a nurse tells us during our visit.
She cocks her head at a pair of visitors in the waiting area, who are animatedly pointing at an info sheet on the table.
“We have a lot of regulars – these two are here most weeks,” the nurse explains.
“They’re probably here to get their B12.”
Amazingly, some customers are such frequent flyers that the REVIV team know which orders to prep ahead of their arrival.
We watch as the duo catch up with clinic staff, before eagerly bouncing from the waiting area into the treatment room for their ‘B12’ – which is just one of the IVs available at the clinic.
A full list of options beams out from a monitor in the waiting area, where customers can mull over the menu and pick one, like it were a high-class restaurant, and roll up their sleeves ready for the chosen ‘dish’ to be delivered directly into their veins.
Choices include; Hydromax, Megaboost, Ultraviv, Vitaglow and Royal Flush – with boosters designed for energy, weight loss and fitness.
Each IV has its own finely-tuned recipe – which can be tweaked according to the client’s needs .
A sprinkle of antioxidant here, an extra dash of Vitamin C there, etc.
“There’s no one size fits all,” our nurse tells us.
“We work out what each person wants to achieve and take their diet and lifestyle into account to see which IV might work best.
“We can also do blood testing so you can get a clearer picture of your health overall.”
Sometimes results can be surprising, we learn.
“For some people, lots of fruit and veg is great; for others it’s not always,” the nurse explains.
“I happen to have the gene that means coffee is healthy for me. But other people don’t.
“Everybody is different.”
A full MOT
On your first visit to REVIV, there’ll be no rush to the treatment chair. Quite the opposite in fact.
Before hooking each of us up, our nurse initiates a relaxed conversation about our health, lifestyles and general outlook.
The first few questions are routine stuff. How often do you exercise? How many alcohol units do you consume per week? What’s your smoking status?
But then, there’re a few more exploratory questions.
“What are you hoping to achieve in terms of improving your health?” our nurse asks.
Getting rid of fatigue and improving energy levels are high on both our lists, and with all the info now collated, the ‘MegaBoost’ drip is recommended.
This solution is packed with minerals, antioxidants, electrolytes, Vitamin B12 and a high dose of Vitamin C.
But before the needle goes in, a REVIV nurse takes time to check my height, weight and blood pressure.
“Yep, you get a full MOT here,” she chuckles.
After a brief pause, I’m good to go. My numbers look ok.
What’s going in is only good stuff, but the staff have protocol in place to make sure the human body isn’t taken aback when treatment begins.
The clinical bit – the cold spray, the prick, the tube insert – is over in seconds.
Once it’s set, we’re ushered into the serene surroundings of a small relaxation space – kitted out with a cream-white sofa and wall-mounted slimline TV.
We’re told to simply sit back, rest our arm on a cushion, and let the IV do its thing, watching Netflix whilst we wait.
The nurses periodically pop their head in to check everything is going swimmingly; twisting the dial to tweak the flow accordingly.
“All good? Good.”
After a minute or two, I begin to feel a cool rush gently flowing up my arm.
“The solution is actually below room temperature, which is why it feels quite cold,” the nurse explains.
My body guzzles the whole bag in around the time it takes for an episode of Friends to play out on the tele. After twenty minutes of watching Chandler Bing wracked with emotional guilt over a crush on his best pal’s Mrs, the credits roll and a smiling staff member comes to disconnect me.
“You’ll probably feel the effects four to eight hours later,” the nurse explains, gently unhooking the tube and firmly pressing cotton wool onto the access point.
“Some people say they enjoy a great sleep after it, too.”
New attitudes to health
An international pandemic has, inevitably, led to new questions surrounding health and wellbeing in the modern age.
After the distress of the first COVID wave began to pass, the national mood quickly turned to anger; with the government accused of being alarmingly ill-prepared for such an emergency.
Some politicians have since admitted that was indeed the case.
One argument is that more resources and time should have been allocated into ‘prevention’ – which is, in medical circles, often considered greater than the cure.
The concept of preemptive health approaches were already trickling into the pool of public opinion pre-COVID – and the pandemic has only served to increase the flow.
Common ideas surrounding health and wellness are shifting away somewhat from ‘reactive’ treatment – with value recognised in taking active steps to prevent and protect.
There is no evidence to suggest that IV drips offer any protection from COVID-19. But the growing popularity of health-boosting services like nutrient therapy does reflect how people are starting to think differently about wellbeing.
According to Sarah Lomas, REVIV’s President and CEO, believes that one of the few silver linings of the pandemic is that new, modern ideas about health are now reaching high places.
“The World Health Organisation is starting to make this connection of nutrition being key to our ability to fight off viruses such as this,” she told The Manc last year.
“We’ve heard a lot about how people without underlying conditions are being affected by the virus.
“But having no underlying conditions is very different to actually being healthy.”
Sarah built an entire business off the back of an idea people might be interested in seeing their own body’s blueprint – and REVIV have services in place to do exactly that.
The company has also responded to COVID by launching testing at some sites – with several clinics also preparing to administer vaccine shots in due course.
But here at Manchester on this chilly January afternoon, it’s business as usual; IVs and insightful health checkups.
By the time we’ve popped plasters on our inner forearms and begun to head out the clinic, nurses are already prepping for fresh appointments.
More clients are coming.
The demand is there, that’s for sure.
REVIV is currently offering immunity support bundles – providing multiple health benefits all in one package. Included is a Megaboost Wellness IV, a Glutathione Push and additional Vitamin C. Priced at £225 – a saving of £58.