Lab Rat: How I Faced My Fear of Needles in the Name of Wellness

Testing out IV therapy, the supercharged way to take your vitamins.
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano

The number of intravenous vitamin (IV) drip lounges popping up in the metro has become downright ridiculous. There’s one right above the 7-Eleven across the office. Who would trust a stranger to hook them up to a bag of glutathione or who knows what else in a Godforsaken place like that? But that wasn't for me to judge. It was for me to try—for your entertainment and possible education.

And because I feared for my own health, I found a more reputable clinic to perform the procedure: Dare by Dr. Jean Marquez, FPDS in Quezon City. At the time, I had been suffering from a bad cold for more than a week. This would supposedly put the IV drip to the test. (Sorry, it's not as glamorous as a hangover. I can never do transportation in that state.) 

From a well-appointed lobby, an attendant led me to a consultation room to meet Dr. Marquez herself. The doctor helped me fill out my medical history form, and was very thorough, taking the time to explain how allergies, blood pressure, and sugar level, all affect your veins and thus the procedure.

After assessing my case (possible allergies and a constant lack of sleep), she declared the Brain Boost (P7,500), one of eight IV drip cocktails available, as the one for me. The star of the show, it promised to do everything, from revitalizing my skin to speeding up my metabolism and improving focus. 

A Tiny Stab from a Needle 
Time to enter the IV room: I knew what I had signed up for—a small needle through a vein to carry a Myer’s cocktail containing vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and electrolytes. Easy! If only I wasn’t afraid of needles. The doctor-and-nurse team was kind enough to distract me. I, however, was determined to live through every moment. 


There was no taking my mind off that needle now. The doctor applied a tourniquet and started to look for a vein. Every flick to the back of my hand felt like a tiny stab preempting the actual wound. Seneca did say, “We suffer more from imagination than from reality.” In plain ol' reality, I was not suffering at all.

Finally, the needle went in. It was met with a gasp. The nurse declared, “We have good flow.” I expected to feel a rush of cool liquid, similar to the sensation when you hit something and know it’s going to bruise, but my hand was too numb from being balled up into a tight fist. As soon as feeling returned, there was a constant sting that was also itchy, like an ant bite that wouldn’t quit.

Half of the yellow liquid was already gone before I realized I had forgotten about the discomfort. Once in a while, when I was extra neurotic, I could feel the sharp tingle of the drip. Before I knew it, the cannula was removed—yet another sting—and a cotton ball was taped above the wound. All done! I was advised not to get up immediately. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know if I felt sleepy because of the Brain Boost or because the tension wore me out.  

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Skin as an Indicator of Health
The way society consumes beauty and grooming has changed. We’ve entered an age of wellness where nutrition is seen as a key component of self-care, so much so that skeptics might say it's vanity in the guise of holism—but that might not be so with IV drips. Its rationale: Treating your organs will cause your skin to clear up. Internally, there might be low-intensity inflammation that is not significant enough to be a bother, but enough to guarantee you’re not running on optimum.

Dr. Marquez explained, “Vitamins and minerals provide the raw materials necessary for our cells to function properly. However, sometimes even a great diet may not translate to proper nutrition at the cellular level. IV therapy is indicated when one’s cells are too weak to transport nutrients.” Think of it as a supercharged way to take your vitamins. It claims to be so effective that it can bring your cells back to full health.



But how do we get to the point of weakened cells in the first place? “There can be many causes, such as poor digestion, food sensitivities, and chronic inflammation,” answered the doctor. “Cells need nutrients to heal, and so a vicious cycle ensues.” 

The real question: Can it cure a hangover? Though doctors don’t often prescribe a cure for the affliction, it can be seen as such. “A dose of glutathione, alpha lipoic acid, and lots of vitamin C help in liver repair and detoxification. Its anti-inflammatory effects can also be helpful for those with arthritis, tendonitis, and degenerative disc disease.” said Dr. Marquez. Dare even offers a Sports Boost for those who want to prepare for strenuous activity or are recovering from it.  

Does It Work?
Comparing notes with a friend who also tried a similar treatment, we concluded that physical changes don’t immediately manifest after the drip. This was expected given the doctor's advice: “Effects vary per patient depending on his health. This can be done once a week. After five weeks, the effects last longer than one to two weeks.”

Whether I was simply too tired from not having slept the previous night or if it was the stuporific effect I had been warned about, I did notice a dip in my will to party that Friday night. Opting to sit on the sidelines to nurse my drink, I realized that going to the clinic forced me to listen to my body. I wasn’t about to lose those precious nutrients to alcohol, so I put that drink down and called an Uber home.


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Vincent Ong
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