Wealthy South Africans are swearing by a R3,000 vitamin injection - but scientists urge caution

Business Insider SA
The Voice SA judges Kahn Morbee and Bobby van Jaarsveld receiving a vitamin IV drip in REVIVE Johannesburg (Instagram, @revivcapetown)
  • Wealthy South Africans are using vitamin IV drips to give them apparent energy, immune and skincare benefits.
  • The drips costs anything between R999 and R2999, and are used by celebrities such as Rihanna, Chris Brown, and John Legend.
  • But scientists urge that vitamin IV drips can have adverse effects for humans. 

Vitamin intravenous (IV) drips are on the rise in South Africa thanks to promises to alleviate hangovers, increase energy, and boost immune systems.

But scientists urge that the drips, costing anything between R999 and R2999 and used by celebrities such as Rihanna, Chris Brown, John Legend, Adele, and Jane Fonda, could have adverse effects.

Sayed Mia, CEO REVIV Southern Africa, says he has seen exponential demand for IV drips in South Africa since their launch here in 2015. 

The difference between a vitamin IV drip and a typical IV drip is that it gives clients vitamins for wellness, instead of essential nutrients in a hospital environment, he says.

“Normally trends that develop in the United States and Europe [such as IV drips] tend to filter down to South Africa much later,” Mia told Business Insider South Africa.

He operates IV spas in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. 

"We saw the opportunity that IVs would bring and wanted to be ahead of the curve. The rest is history." 

REVIV South Africa clients enjoying a vitamin IV drip (Facebook, REVIV South Africa)

Purported benefits of IV drips include the “detoxing of your system”, “cleansing of organs”, and giving you an energy boost and immune boost. Slimming products are also on offer. 

Typical clients include corporate executives, celebrities, and stay-at-home moms, Mia says. 

“We all suffer from fatigue and stress and the IVs help us get back to our best.”

The drip, which is specifically prepared for a client after a medical screening, takes between 30 to 45 minutes to administer and should be taken every three to four weeks according to REVIV.

J'Something from South African music group Mi Casa enjoying a vitamin IV drip at REVIV Cape Town (Instagram, @revivcapetown)

Mia's HydroMax drips, which rehydrates clients, start at R999. The price goes up to R2999 for the Royal Flush drip, which is touted as helping with skincare, energy levels, and as acting as an immune booster. 

Clients “enjoy” the drip in massage chairs, with access to wifi and a selection of drinks on offer. 

“It's the experience that we give clients that keeps bringing them back,” Mia says. 

Irene Labuschagne, a dietitian at the Nutrition Information Centre Stellenbosch University (NICUS), however, says there has been “repeated calls of caution” over the use of vitamin IV drips in South Africa. 

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“Especially in relation to the documented lack of information on the safety of some, if not all, of these products,” Labuschagne told Business Insider South Africa. 

“Unless one has a medical deficiency, it logically does not justify the fact that these IV drips are beneficial.”

A client enjoying a vitamin IV drip at the IV Bar in Cape Town (supplied)

Keri Krug, founder of The IV Bar in Johannesburg, says while typical vitamin pills have an absorption rate of 20%, 100% of IV drips are absorbed by the body. 

Krug started an IV spa after she was “dripped by an old unfriendly nurse on a cold old doctor’s bed” herself. 

“So I thought here’s a great opportunity to give people the same effect but with a much better experience,” she says. 

She says the market has seen particular growth among triathletes and weightlifters who want to improve their performance, among people who struggle with flu, and clients who come for fertility reasons. 

The IV Bar offers a loyalty card where clients get their 10th drip-free, Krug says. 

“This aids the concept of preventative health care: keep coming back, feel better, and we’ll reward you with a free drip.”