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Curewell: IV hydration woo on my local news station

I saw my favorite station airing an advertisement disguised as a news story for a Curewell IV HAUS, which sells IV “therapy.” I did not approve.

It’s no secret that, when it comes to local news, I usually watch our Detroit NBC affiliates news, WDIV Local 4 News. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I like the personalities. Maybe it’s just the comfort of many years of having watched the same news. Maybe it’s just inertia. Who knows? Unfortunately, WDIV had a tendency to air some very credulous stories. For instance, not long after I moved back to Detroit, WDIV aired a story on “ghost orbs,” otherwise know as flecks of dust caught by light from flag or other lights in a photograph, presenting them as though they might be real manifestations of ghosts or spirits. Later, they did equally embarrassing stories about a haunted house and ghostbusters. And don’t even get me started on the multiple advertisements disguised as news segments for quackery like acupuncture, including even acupuncture for pets. Unfortunately, WDIV is at it again, with an advertisement disguised as a news segment about IV therapy clinics or bars, more specifically a company called Curewell:

When I say that it’s a commercial disguised as a news segment, you’ll see that I’m not exaggerating. Indeed, it appears to be promoting one specific “IV drip bar,” Curewell:

Gatorade and Advil used to be the go-to for a hangover fix, but there’s a new option popping up in Metro Detroit

In the past year, two IV therapy clinics have opened up in Oakland County and they promise a quick recovery from a hangover.

The people who run the clinics said they can help with a lot more than just a hangover. Curewell IV Haus in Royal Oak isn’t a hospital, it’s an IV therapy spa. The cozy spa knocks down IV stereotypes.

“If you think, ‘Oh, they can’t find my vein,’ yes we can. ‘Oh, it’s going to hurt,’ no it won’t. ‘Oh, it’s like a hospital,’ no it’s not,” Curewell IV Haus co-owner Sabra Evans said.

Curewell IV Haus claims to be able to make a normally cringe-worthy experience, calming.

“You can come in and pick any spot you like and put your feet up,” Evans said. “IV therapy is the most health forward mechanism that you have to get hydrated.”

Curewell IV Haus only has licensed nurses and paramedics provide the IVs to customers. They also have a doctor on staff.

Gee, thanks WDIV, for doing your best to let the owners persuade people that IV needles don’t hurt when they are inserted. (Hint: They always do. They might not hurt a lot; the pain might be barely noticeable when the person inserting the needle is really good, but they always hurt at least a little.) Also, thanks WDIV, for emphasizing how only licensed nurses and paramedics start IVs. That must mean this isn’t quackery, right?

As is my wont, I cruised over to the Curewell IV HAUS website. (“IV HAUS”? Could the owners have chosen a more hipster name?) There I found various intravenous concoctions with Michigan-inspired names like The Great Lakes, New Agey names like The Goddess, or utilitarian names like Thin Is In or The Survivor. Then there are the claims:

IV therapy is simple. During your visit with us, our highly trained and licensed staff will greet you and assist you in selecting a treatment.

After you have completed a short questionnaire, we will take your vitals. Then, you will be given an IV filled with saline and the supplements of your choosing. The drip will take between 30 to 45 minutes to complete.

Most people will feel better immediately!

The best part about IV therapy is that it bypasses your digestive system and thereby delivers all its goodness directly into your blood stream.

Even if you drink a gallon of water a day, you will only absorb about 40% of it.

You can buy the very best vitamins on the market and your maximum absorption will be around 30%.

With IV therapy, you get 100% absorption, every time – with every drip. That is the ultimate bang for your buck!!

I’ve dealt with this nonsense before in my previous post on “IV bars,” including the fact that the FTC has cracked down on exactly the same sort of dubious advertising claims being made by Curewell. As I said before, there’s only one reason to give fluids or IV nutrients and vitamins intravenously, and that’s if for some medical reason the patient can’t take them orally. For example, if you’ve had your stomach removed (or, more specifically, a specific part of your stomach removed), you will be unable to adequately absorb vitamin B12, the deficiency of which over time leads to a condition known as pernicious anemia. The reason is that the proximal stomach makes protein called intrinsic factor, which binds to B12 and facilitates its absorption in the distal small intestine. However, vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to develop after gastrectomy because significant stores of vitamin B12 exist in the liver. In any event, people with surgery-induced B12 malabsorption most definitely do benefit from monthly B12 injections. In fact, they need them to survive. Also, gastrectomy can also impair the absorption of iron because gastric acid converts dietary iron to a form that is more readily absorbed in the duodenum.

Aside from times when patients can’t take hydration or nutrition by mouth, we use IV hydration when a patient needs very rapid rehydration, such as after significant blood loss, in which case we usually also give blood in the form of packed red blood cells. Often electrolytes are administered IV when rapid correction of low levels, too rapid for oral therapy, is required. As for IV hydration, just to “perk you up,” it’s unnecessary, and there’s no decent evidence that it’s better than oral rehydration. It is, however, quite expensive. Myer’s cocktail, for instance, is offered for $200 a pop. It’s basically just an IV multivitamin, but that doesn’t stop Curewell from saying:

Used in multiple disorders including Fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s Disease, Asthma, Seasonal Allergies, and much more!

That sounds almost like a health claim! Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, naturopaths love Myers’ cocktail. It’s basically an intravenous cocktail of various vitamins B vitamins, vitamin C, and minerals created by Dr. John Myers, who died in 1984. Myers never actually published his recipe for the cocktail, but the doctor who took over his practice, Dr. John Gaby, published a recipe that is the current one used for Myers cocktail, even though he admitted that he didn’t know exactly what was in Myers’ original concoction. Besides being popular among naturopaths, it was reportedly also favored by Michael Jackson. There is no evidence that it is efficacious for any of the conditions for which it is commonly used, other than anecdotes collected by Dr. Gaby.

But, WDIV apologists will say, there is some skepticism in the story. Really, there is, and, in fairness, I suppose you could call it that, but just barely and only if you squint very hard and give WDIV the total benefit of the doubt:

There are skeptics out there who want to know if it really works.

“In addition to my normal workout regiment, I try to stay hydrated and this is one of the ways that I do it,” Curtis Dunlap, who gets IV therapy regularly, said.

Hey! Curtis says it works! That should answer those pesky skeptics!

The difference between Curewell IV HAUS and iV Bars, which I discussed the last time, seems to be one of degree, with Curewell’s health claims being a lot less extravagant (and thus less easy pickings) than those of iV Bars. They both feature a lot of testimonials and little, if any, much science. Interestingly, though, I didn’t find a Quack Miranda warning anywhere on the Curewell website. Maybe there’s an opening there.

WDIV isn’t the only local station in my neck of the woods that has fallen into the trap of airing woo-filled stories. Indeed, the local ABC affiliate, WXYZ, was once home to a antivaccine conspiracy theorist as its primary investigative reporter, and last year the local Fox affiliate did air a story on Curewell that was just as bad and that I didn’t see because I don’t with that news broadcast. In any event, local news, be it here or anywhere in the US, tends to be a cesspit of credulity towards dubious health claims and paranormal nonsense. I’m beginning to wonder if I should switch stations, but none of the others are likely to be any better. On the other hand, you might have noticed that I hadn’t blogged in a couple of days. Personal and professional obligations had led me to plan to take a one week—or slightly longer—blog break. This dragged me back for a day. Thanks, WDIV.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

54 replies on “Curewell: IV hydration woo on my local news station”

It appears Orac is a creature of habit, based on his TV-news viewing “inertia.” Lucky for us, Orac also has a habit of blogging!

Q. What don’t you get with 100% absorption from Curwell IV therapy.

A. A full bladder.

Note: Alcoholics are creatures of habit and may want to pee (false urination or ghost urination) after a Curwell IV treatment. With Curwell, you get more “bang for the buck” and never piss your money away. That’s great news!

With Curwell, you get more “bang for the buck” and never piss your money away. That’s great news!

Drip, drip, drip…

Also: does being hydrated by IV somehow stop one’s kidneys from working? Inquiring minds want to know.

Nope. When I was on IV fluids due to a bleeding ulcer, I had to use the bathroom constently. What goes in, must come out, and those fluids came out, believe me.

In the old days if interns or resident medical officers had had a hangover and had the work that day they’d grab a litre of 5% dextrose and some IM Metoclopramide. They’d cannulate themselves, bung in the fluids and antiemetic and get on with their day. Just goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun.

Back in my drinking days I always found that two aspirin with a quart of water before hitting the pillow did the trick.

This post corroborates my feeling lately, as I peruse my various streaming services, that a huge chunk of new programming revolves around some kind of paranormal or magical theme. It’s depressing.

Even if you drink a gallon of water a day, you will only absorb about 40% of it.

Good thing, too, otherwise you would be literally shiatting bricks.

Anyway, this direct-to-your-bloodstream-more-bang-for-your-buck stuff is so idiotic. Even if you believe in supplements, you could spend ten or fifteen bucks to take the oral preparations, or drop $200 (with the added inconvenience of trotting down to the IV Haus and waiting around for your infusion to finish) for a marginal increase in uptake. Do these clients not think?

Yeah, and it is completely idiotic to think the human body will retain all of the fluids it gets through the IV, unless,of course, ones kidney function is severely impaired. That is even more relevant if you receive fluids which differ in pH.

I am visualizing myself in the hospital for three days with an IV and a catheter, and a plastic container under the bed. (This actually happened.) Then they made me walk to the bathroom and use it and I was okay to have the catheter taken out. Damn but there was a lot of unabsorbed water, both before and after catheter removal. I have not-very-fond memories of getting out of bed to walk to the bathroom every hour while in an opiate-filled haze.

Christine, I remember being given IV fluids when I had a bleeding ulcer. It felt like I was heading to the bathroom ever 90 minutes.

Okay, I got my regular guilt trip from my mom, because she almost died during her pregnancy. Preeclampsia was confirmed, but it sounds a bit like HELLP. Anyway, once the 36th week was complete, they induced labor. She lost enough blood to cover the bed and produce a puddle larger than the bed. Since Hepatitis and HIV were a serious concern, the doctor simply claimed it was approximately 2 litres and gave her lots of fluids through an IV drip.
Because her kidneys had given up sometime, she swelled up. When her kidneys finally kicked in, she had to go constantly to the toilet.

Why is this not practicing medicine without a license? Am I missing something?

I assume that they are not having every customer evaluated by their physician.

In some states some nurses (depending on license) can prescribe some treatments. I would guess that in Michigan the giving of an IV with some additives would fall under their scope of practice. I mean, seeing as how they are advertising on TV and all.

Even if you drink a gallon of water a day, you will only absorb about 40% of it.

⁎Glances at bottle of tamsulosin.⁎

I got rather badly dehydrated one day last summer and recovered nicely, if somewhat slowly, but drinking.

I’ve largely lost my ability to feel thirsty, which is apparently not too uncommon for old people. I had cycled about 80 km, but the weather was cool and I did drink a bit along the way, though apparently not enough. I was fine until I stopped moving, then began to feel quite faint. I found a place to lie down with my feet up, and drank a bunch of water. It took about 30 to 40 minutes before I could feel my radial pulse, but I survived. If someone had come along & offered IV fluids, I would probably have shooed them away.

Since then I’ve adopted a practice of drinking regularly whether I feel thirsty or not.

Careful. It could be hyponatremia, in which case drinking plain water would make the situation worse.

If I had been sweating heavily I might have been concerned about hyponatremia, but I wasn’t on either count. I actually mixed some consumer-type rehydration goop into my water. In future I intend to carry a proper rehydration salts mixture that is optimized for rapid absorption. But mostly I intend to try to drink regularly – which seemed to work pretty well for subsequent rides last summer.

/ It could be hyponatremia
A possibility but as a long time cyclist I would say that it is highly unlikely on an 80 km ride, especially as it sounds unsupported. If nothing else, a cyclist, unless making very special provisions can not carry enough water to risk hyponatremia.

Doug would have had to been stopping every 5 km to chug down a couple of litres of water and refill water bottles to risk hyponatremia

For an 80 km ride in cool weather neither dehydration nor hyponatremia are expected. But doug did experience something, and that got my attention. There is an underlying assumption that the ride began with normal levels of hydration and electrolytes. Often that is not the case. Even for rides such as doug’s when you start with a deficiency you can run into trouble. For example, if you ride two or three days in succession it is surprisingly easy to have this occur. I used to cycle a lot at one time, fast and long over many days in succession with others and I’ve seen all kinds of problems arise, including with elite athletes. My experience makes me cautious, and leads me to caution others.

Hyponatremia is especially nasty. I had it myself a few times before I learned what it was. Cyclists rarely get it from over-hydrating; that seems to be more common with novice runners. Instead it can come from hydrating normally and expressing a lot of salt when sweating (which I do). It can creep up until you find that even looking at a glass of water makes you nauseous. Your body is telling you your electrolyte concentrations are already too low. So I was glad to learn doug did not drink plain water.

This may be worth a limerick, but it sure is difficult finding a word to rhyme with hyponatremia.

I can’t claim to match the seriousness of the cyclists posting here but I once rode in a mountain bike race. Got to the finish line, rode onto some grass and fell over sideways, still clipped into the pedals. Lay there for twenty minutes, unable to move, just about able to grunt at the people who came to check on me. Got up and bought two massive burgers from the snack van and drank a couple of bottles of juice before I had the energy to put the bike in the boot of the car for the drive home. Maybe I was just unfit.

Are we supposed to think that this Curewell IV Haus is better than the competition because of the gratuitous German? It comes off sounding almost as pretentious as the fictitious restaurant La Maison de la Casa Haus[1]. There are times when it makes sense to use German, but this isn’t one of them.

As it happens, I donated blood yesterday, which also involves getting a needle stuck in your arm. It might hurt a little, if the person doing it is skillful, or a lot, if (s)he isn’t, but it always hurts. WDIV are in denial somewhere upriver of Khartoum if they think it doesn’t.

[1]For those who don’t get it: The House of the House House.

If there are people doing this regularly, does that mean there are people running around with needle tracks all over their arms who aren’t heroin addicts? $200 a pop seems pretty steep to me.

Besides, I thought the health conscious were supposed to be afraid of needles.

And isn’t there some serious irony in selling a product to “boost” the immune system that requires damaging the immune system to deliver? (The skin is the first line of defense against pathogens. Poking holes in it increases the risk of infection.)

Professionally, these “IV drips for well people” piss me off. When there’s a shortage of saline (which happens way too often) because of manufacturing problems or natural disasters or a bad flu season, the sale of saline for infusion is rationed. First hospitals, then clinics, then manufacturers. (I’m in that last bucket.)

This is perfectly sensible for patient safety, if, and only if, everyone is using the saline sensibly. But then there are all these “clinics” wasting saline IVs on people who are fine, saline that I could be using to make real medical treatments, and that really gets my goat.

This cracked me up. I really thought Andy Rooney had come back from the dead to write this article. Really it was just the first two paragraphs that made me think that. Or has the ghost of Andy Rooney possessed you?

The idea of giving unnecessary IV drips to advanced chronic kidney disease patients makes me shudder.
You see, if they have excessive water intake, they get fluid overload because they can’t excrete it. That leads to all sorts of (not!) fun stuff like high blood pressure and edema and (over a long period of time) heart failure.
Incidentally, late stage CKD patients do need direct administration of iron because of poor GI absorption rates. Funnily enough, I doubt that’s something Curewell dabbles in because IV iron formulations would really eat into their profit margins (not that I’d want them to, since monitoring for iron deficiency is routine and hemochromatosis is a thing).

Disclaimer: I’m NOT a doctor.

OT BUT ” sceptics should know”…

Not having much to do, I scanned over Natural News’ most recent BS articles and decided to listen to Mikey’s tape of two days ago (Title of article: ” Aborted Babies Should All Be Armed and Dangerous Like ME” or suchlike)

I listened to the ENTIRE 6 minutes wherein he layered lie upon myth upon prevarication enough to boggle even the most stable of minds. He advocates that aborted “babies” kill their “killers”. Of course, he says that he ISN’T telling ANYONE to go out and murder doctors- ONLY for the “babies” to do so
BUT obviously they are innocent and aren’t able to defend themselves like we can.
The tape is loaded with hate about “demon-crats”/ New Yorkers who support these “murders” and doctors who “lick up” the blood of the sacrificed.

I can imagine whom he is trying to court with this topic. These tapes promote his channel/ video service which has a “store”
I understand that he’s been banned from twitter for other crap.

Take a look sceptical sciblings!

Sometimes I wonder if comments like these are made deliberately to garner outrage. Although such topics seem to engender a passion in the USA that seems bizarre in its intensity to thoes of us watching from
the outside.

Orac’s followers should know about the garbage Adams broadcasts for an important reason:

it illustrates how he will sink to any depth – no lie is too outlandish.
-btw- Adams is the same person who has run a disgusting campaign- based purely on fantasy- about Orac
Maybe he will be censored at more outlets or discussed by media.

“Sometimes I wonder if comments like these are made deliberately to garner outrage.”

It’s beneficial to keep the altie hordes in a constant state of fear and apprehension, wondering when the Pharma-Leftist State will institute its final plan to confiscate natural cures and depopulate the world in a holocaust of evil greed (it didn’t happen with Codex Alimentarius or the EU “ban” on supplements, but the next horrific threat will come true, honest). That way you ensure a loyal if panicky audience that buys your End Times supplies and hangs on your words, so they know when to dig up buried weapons and head for their shelters.

Alex Jones knows how to work the crowds in this fashion.

Sounds like NN’s dingbat is verging back into kill-the-oppressors territory, a bit more circumspectly than his previous encouragement of violence against pro-GMO advocates.

Oh Dangerous One!

For sure!
In addition, as I mentioned above, we need to expose exactly what these guys are saying to their loyalists and the less informed general public whilst they simultaneously broadcast lies about “people we know”.
For example, when Null supplies “inside information” about the ‘corruption’ of Wikipedia, Sceptics, SBM, we can point out that this is the same guy who claims hiv/aids cures through vitamin C drips, energy healings of serious illnesses at his health retreats and other fibs of mythic proportion. Adams repeatedly printed horrendous libelous material about Orac AND also writes pure crap like this.

Would readers believe what he says about Drs Novella/ Hall/ DG when they know he said……….

If I told you I was Queen Mother of Kazakhstan, would you believe anything else I wrote? I hope not.

WDIV most likely ran this segment because they were paid to do it, not because they believe the claims. Local stations quite often air segments and “news” programs for local businesses in exchange for advertising revenue, and won’t give a second thought to what the service is. It’s likely the same reason KHOU in Houston has devoted episodes of their purported morning show to the Burzynski Clinic.

Maybe I can help discourage this practice, at least in my local market, by blogging about the credulous stories about quacks whenever I see them.?

One reason that stations run this crap is because it’s free. The station doesn’t have to send out a crew when they can get pre-edited video. Sometimes they give “Interview” footage with answers but no questioning, to allow the station to insert the voices of their own on-air “talent”, making it sound like a genuine interview.
It’s a win-win-lose situation: the quacks get free publicity, the station can appear to have health and science reporting at no cost, and the viewers lose.

$200 for a hangover cure? One, moreover, that requires getting out of bed and heading down to a clinic? Questions of ethics and efficacy aside, I’m baffled there’s a market for it in the first place.

If you go to their website you’ll see that for a large enough group they’ll come to your hotel room (or where ever). So I guess the idea is to pre-order them for a bachelor party?

I’m kinda surprised they use normal saline. I mean, really – it’s just so … normal. Surely Ringer’s solution has a much greater ring of being a prestigious solution to what ails ya to it. It gots potassium! and bicarbonate. And it is slightly more isotonic.. But then who wants to be iso when they can be special?

Psorry, it’s Psunday night and I’ve had far too much psomething. I’m going. I’m going. Put down the pstick. But Jeebus help us, something has to try to relieve the leaden tedium of Glurg.

On a more psober note – are there still significant shortages of saline? Have there been periods when it hasn’t been in short supply recently? If not, this is what? about the the fourth or fifth consecutive year?

In other news – The Clarks, who have been convicted of criminal negligence causing death in the case of their son, much as in the case of the Stephans and wee Zeke, have had their sentencing hearing. I don’t know when the actual sentencing is expected, but probably within the next month.

You’re so right. For my $200, I want extraordinary saline. I want pink Himalayan salt in my IV. and the salt had better be free of GMOs, cruelty free, organic, and free range, I will make an exception for being non-teroir.

Off topic, but your friend Jay Gordon is now recomending the measles vacine-the outbreak in Washington must be getting real intense.

Meanwhile, BBC News tells me about a Fox News commentator who “hasn’t washed his hands in 10 years” because germs cannot be seen with the naked eye and therefore don’t exist. By that standard, atoms and molecules don’t exist either, because they can’t be seen with the naked eye.

The BBC story notes that Peter Hegseth, the guy in question, has degrees from Harvard and Princeton. Yet more evidence that the Ivy League is overrated.

He was joking. His female co-host had dogged him for eating some day-old leftover cold pizza. He apparently considered that critique overly-cautious, so he riffed on it with an ironic reductio ad absurdum. Someone Tweeted or made some other text posting of his comments, so taken out of context, they went viral… Since, this being a ‘Fox and Friends’ show, many people were willing to imagine he was speaking seriously and literally. At which point, Hegseth – no doubt seeking further publicity that might help propel him from the Fox b-squad up to the varsity – began to troll the Twitterverse by retweeting someone who did appear to take him seriously and complimented him (!!) with a #DontWash hashtag. At the point he apparently decided he’d gained enough exposure, he told reporters that yes, he’d been joking, criticizing their credulity in thinking he was serious.

Frankly, I don’t think this dude understands the Fox audience. That sort of ironic humor may fly in the right-wing cliques at the Ivys, but with MAGAs? And even so, since he explained he was trying to ridicule germophobes, and Trump is a notorious germaphobe, I doubt Hegseth will moving up the Fox pundit ladder anytime soon.

Back in 2015 the junior senator from North Carolina (Thom Tillis) was all up in arms about those “Employees must wash hands before returning to work” signs in restaurant bathrooms, saying it was “government overreach”.

So it’s really not a stretch at all to think that someone from Fox and Friends might actually think it’s OK to never wash his hands.

@ JustaTech

That’s a hoot. I guess Tillis never saw the “Is your barthroom breeding Bolsheviks?” poster:

Idiot doesn’t know those signs are put up by management, who don’t want to get sued over issues with employee saniation affecting some customer.

I wonder if Hegseth will figure out why so many people thought he was being serious. No douubt he’ll blame it on ‘stupid libs’ or better yet anti-Fox FAKE NEWS! (arggh.)

@ JustaTech

Government overreach? I suppose it is also government overreach to prevent restaurants to serve food that is prepared in unhygienic kitchens.

Renate: Apparently there are some people who imagine that the “free market” will fix that because places that are unhygenic and make people sick will go out of business (because people are so good at correctly identifying the source of food poisoning).

These people are dumb and I don’t eat at their homes.

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