TORONTO - A new clinic promises to help Toronto's busy Bay Street financiers and overworked tech entrepreneurs cure their hangovers, shake off jet lag and even stave off the signs of aging through an intravenous drip.
Reviv, an international company offering IV infusions of vitamins and medicines, opened its first Canadian treatment centre last week, and more locations across the country are expected to follow.
"We aim to be coast-to-coast in the next couple of years," says David Potter, partner at Reviv Canada, adding that roughly 80 private health and wellness clinics nationwide have said they'd like to get on board.
"The clientele we're looking to attract is really that demographic of people that are living a 24-hour life cycle — working hard and then playing hard as well," says Potter.
Reviv is not the first company to offer so-called "vitamin drips" in Toronto.
Naturopathic clinics have been providing the service for years, although Potter and his business partner Christopher Chapheau say Reviv goes beyond simple vitamin infusions.
What sets Reviv apart are its recovery concoctions, which deliver active medicinal ingredients such as anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory drugs straight into the bloodstream to combat the symptoms of flu, hay fever, sunburns and more, says Chapheau.
Reviv was founded in Miami Beach, Fla., in 2010 by emergency room doctor Johnny Parvani, before expanding to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, London, Johannesburg and more.
"I personally believe that, if you fast forward 10 years down the road, these treatments will be as ubiquitous as Botox is today," Parvani says.
As IV infusions have gained popularity, they have also attracted critics who question their efficacy.
Parvani says ER doctors have been using IV drips to deliver medicines and help hydrate patients for years.
"This is something we do day in and day out," Parvani says. "There's really no argument because this is standard of practice medicine."
At Reviv's Toronto location, located just west of the financial district in the heart of the startup tech community, treatments are administered by a team of registered nurses.
First-time patients fill out medical questionnaires and consult with one of the clinic's three doctors via Skype.
"The foundation of Reviv is that we are delivering a controlled medical procedure," says Potter, noting that it is governed by Ontario's Regulated Health Professions Act and subject to oversight by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Although it offers medical services, the clinic is outfitted more like a spa than a hospital.
Plants are scattered throughout the loft-like space and clients receive treatments while lounging on a large, white sectional couch and watching BBC's The Blue Planet.
"We want you coming in feeling like you are treating yourself to something, not treating yourself for something," says Chapheau.
While IV drips are not new, their commercialization is a fairly recent phenomenon, says Parvani.
At Reviv, clients are presented with a menu of options with names such as "Hydromax," "Vitaglow" and "Royal Flush."
IV infusions, which take roughly 30 minutes and are administered directly into the bloodstream, range from $100 to $275 a pop.
They are divided into two categories: recovery infusions, which are packed with active medical ingredients, and wellness infusions, which contain vitamins and antioxidants and are meant to play a more preventative role.
Customers can also choose from a variety of booster shots — for example, a B12 shot or one containing glutathione, an antioxidant believed to play a role in anti-aging. These are injected into the muscle and cost between $25 and $50.
The biggest challenge to the mainstream acceptance of such treatments is people's aversion to needles, says Parvani.
"Most people are conditioned to associate needles with that unpleasant medical experience, which automatically generates a lot of fear," Parvani says.
"It absolutely doesn't need to be that way."
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