Posts made in January 2019

Take a chill pill: You actually may not be allergic to penicillin

February 1, 2019

Penicillin was the original “wonder drug”—but, today, people are wondering why, for more than half a century, doctors have warned them it’s contraindicated for their care.

Discovered in 1928 and found to “miraculously” cure infections by 1942, penicillin was the first antibiotic that many Baby Boomers were prescribed as children. However, that first dose of penicillin also turned out to be the last for many youngsters—who broke out in bumps or rashes that were diagnosed as allergic reactions.

Now there is a different school of thought. In fact, according to a study posted by the Journal of the American Medical Association in January, fully 19 out of 20 people who have been told they are allergic to penicillin actually can tolerate it well.

Indeed, The New York Times reported on January 22, millions of Americans whose medical histories document their penicillin sensitivities are not actually allergic. But they are steered away from using some of the safest, most effective antibiotics—relying instead on substitutes that are often pricier, less effective, and more likely to cause complications such as antibiotic-resistant infections.

Experts in allergy and infectious disease, including the paper’s authors, are now urging patients to ask doctors to review their medical history and re-evaluate whether they truly have a penicillin allergy.

The evaluation—which may require allergy skin testing and ideally should be done while people are healthy— is especially important, The Times reports, for pregnant women, people with cancer and those in long-term care, and anyone anticipating surgery or being treated for a sexually transmitted infection.

“When you have a true infection that needs to be treated, the physician will see you have the allergy and not question it,” said  Dr. Erica S. Shenoy, an author of  the study, and an infectious diseases specialist who is s on the staff of Harvard Medical School of Massachusetts General Hospital.

The review was carried out with input from the boards of three professional medical organizations: the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; the Infectious Diseases Society of America; and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. All three groups endorsed the findings.

There is no question that some patients have potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to penicillin, but the label appears to have been applied far too broadly, experts say. About 10% of Americans report having a penicillin allergy, and the rate is even higher among older people and hospital patients—15% of whom have a documented penicillin allergy.

But studies that have gone back and conducted allergy skin testing on patients whose medical records list a penicillin allergy have found that the overwhelming majority test negative. A 2017 review of two dozen studies of hospitalized patients found that over all, 95 percent tested negative for penicillin-specific immunoglobulin E, or IgE, antibodies, a sign of true allergy.

 “We used to say nine out of 10 people who report a penicillin allergy are skin-test negative. Now it looks more like 19 out of 20,” Dr. David Lang, president-elect of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and chairman of allergy and immunology in the respiratory institute at the Cleveland Clinic, told the Times.

What’s more, the researchers say, many people who have avoided penicillin for a decade or more after a true, severe allergic reaction will not experience that reaction again.

“Even for those with true allergy, it can wane,” said Dr. Kimberly Blumenthal, the review’s senior author, who is an allergist and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “We don’t really understand this, but once you’ve proven you’re tolerant, you go back to having the same risk as someone who never had an allergy” to penicillin.

Finally, the researchers warn, don’t challenge yourself to penicillin on your own. Patients who have been told they’re allergic to penicillin should talk to their doctors, who should take a careful history and review the symptoms of the reaction.

If the past reaction to penicillin included symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting and itching, or the diagnosis was made based on a family history of the allergy, the patient is considered low-risk and may be able to take a first dose of penicillin or a related antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, under medical observation.

If the past reaction included hives, a rash, swelling, or shortness of breath, patients should have penicillin skin test, followed by a second test that places the reagent under the skin if the first test is negative. If both tests are negative, the patient is unlikely to be allergic to penicillin, and an oral dose may be given under observation to confirm

Research contact:  @nytimes

A ‘garden variety’ Roomba

February 1, 2019

It’s time to “Terra-fy” yourself in the best way ever: Having already changed the way people clean their homes, with the iconic Roomba robot vacuum and the Braava family of robot mops, Bedford, Massachusetts-based iRobot, announced on January 29 that it is reinventing lawn care with the Terra robot mower.

According to the company, Terra offers state-of-the-art Imprint Smart Mapping and navigation technologies;  high-performance, high-quality mowing; and easy installation.

It mows like people do—intelligently navigating a yard cutting efficiently in straight, back-and-forth lines. Terra remembers where it is in the yard and what ground it still needs to cover. If the robot’s battery runs low, it will return to its base to recharge and then resume mowing until the yard is complete.

Terra will offer consumers a welcome alternative to existing robotic lawn mowers by eliminating the need for costly and labor-intensive boundary wires. Combining Imprint Smart Mapping technology with a newly developed wireless communications system—including standalone beacons that are placed around the yard—the Terra can be driven once around the yard to mark its territory and then scheduled for use.

Users have total control over where the robot goes and where it doesn’t go, so it will stay on the lawn and out of the flowers.

Because Terra is connected, users can use the iRobot HOME App to customize their robot—from adjusting the height of the grass to controlling precisely when the lawn is cut, day or night. The robot is designed with rugged features to help it operate in inclement weather and navigate tough outdoor terrain.

“iRobot is building an ecosystem of robots and technologies that help people do more both inside and outside of the home,” said CEO Colin Angle, adding,. “The robot mower segment is well established in EMEA and has tremendous room for growth in other markets, including North America. With its ease of use and premium mowing features, Terra is poised to give consumers a whole new way to think about how they take care of their lawn.”

The iRobot Terra robot mower will be available for sale in Germany and as a beta program in the United States this year. Specific availability and pricing will be announced at a later date (although, judging by the Roomba, it probably will be in the $1,000 range).

Research contact: @iRobot

McConnell: Move to make Election Day a federal holiday is a ‘partisan power grab’ by Dems

February 1, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said on December 30 that a Democratic bill (HR.1) that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a “partisan power grab.”

In an online statement, McConnell said he would fight the bill because, “…when Washington politicians suddenly decide their top priority is grabbing unprecedented control over how they get elected and sent to Washington in the first place, alarm bells should start ringing all over the place. After all, Article I, Section IV of the Constitution clearly gives state legislatures primary responsibility for—quote—the ‘Times, Places, and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives.’

However, the Majority Leader failed to add that the same section of the Constitution grants that “Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Chusing [sic] Senators.”

In his remarks, McConnell asserted that, with the highest turnouts ever in recent elections, this is not the time “in American history when it has come to that,”  adding, “…There is no objective basis for the sweeping federal takeover of elections that House Democrats have dreamed up. No emergency. It’s just a Washington D.C. power grab for its very own sake.”

According to a report by The Washington Post, the far-reaching legislation also would:

  • Prohibit the purging of voter rolls,
  • Require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to release their tax returns,
  • Compel states to adopt independent redistricting commissions, and
  • Create a matching system for small-dollar donations to congressional campaigns, among other changes.

In his Wednesday remarks, as well as in a Washington Post op-ed earlier this month, McConnell mocked the legislation as the “Democrat Politician Protection Act.”

“H.R. 1 would victimize every American taxpayer by pouring their money into expensive new subsidies that don’t even pass the laugh test,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

His remarks prompted a wave of criticism by Democrats, some of whom argued that McConnell was acknowledging that Republicans want to make it more difficult for Americans to vote.

Voting is a power grab. By citizens,” Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) posted in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) shared a link to a story about McConnell’s comments and tweeted, “Why are Republicans always afraid of making it easier for Americans to vote?”

Research contact: felicia.sonmez@washpost.comR.

Ten steps to better skin? Dermatologists weigh in.

January 31, 2019

American women are buying into Eastern wisdom bigtime: While hordes of U.S. females are following “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo of Japan; many others have gone on to buy and try board-certified esthetician Charlotte Cho’s Soko Glam ten-step Korean Skin Care Routine.

Founded in 2012 with products curated from South Korea, Soko Glam advances an already rampant trend: If there’s a skin “problem,” there must be a cream, mask, serum, or scrub for that.

And, as the Huffington Post points out in a January 29 story, at a time when high-profile politicians— yes, we’re talking about Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) —are sharing their own skin care secrets, and other beauty-obsessed influencers are boasting about their own favorite elixirs and panaceas; it’s easy to convince ourselves that more is more, and more is better—especially on the path to “perfect” skin.

But are all those products really helping us? Do we really need to be spending all that money and piling a ton of stuff on our faces to keep our skin at its best? The HuffPost spoke to dermatologists to get some answers.

It’s true that plenty of people out there really do love their skin care routines. As Dr. Jennifer Chwalek, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City, told the news outlet, “I think part of this whole trend of wanting to do multi-step skin care comes from a real need or desire in our society to do more self-care.”

So it feels good, but is that a good reason to spend so much time and money on your skin?

“Need is a relative term,” Dr. Anna Guanche, a board-certified dermatologist at Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, California, told the HuffPost via email. She explained that if someone has, say, a ten-step process, that would be “optimal if all ingredients are compatible, stay active on the skin when layered, penetrate, and most importantly, are applied consistently.”

And therein lies one problem: compatibility. There’s a good chance most people aren’t scientists who’ve studied every ingredient in every formula and know exactly how all their products interact with each other.

Chwalek noted that skin care and beauty products are studied for their efficacy on an individual basis, not as part of a layered routine. When you put multiple layers of products on your skin, you can’t always be sure the active ingredients in each of them are penetrating as deeply as they should be for the results you want, she said.

“Not only that, you’re also adding on top of something where there are other ingredients that could be deactivating the active ingredient, or affecting the pH at which the active ingredient works,” Chwalek told the online news source. “It’s hard to know if the active ingredient of the last thing you added actually got [to where it needed] to be in the skin, and if it wasn’t deactivated by something else you put on.”

Chwalek and Guanche both agreed that doing too much to our skin can actually irritate it. And if you’re using so many products, it becomes difficult to pinpoint which one or which ingredient is causing that reaction.

If you do have a large arsenal of products you like using, Dr. Angela Lamb, director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice in New York City, suggested alternating them. “For example,” she told HuffPost “if you have two cleansers you love, use one in the morning and one at night. If you have two anti-aging serums, use one in the morning and one at night, or one Monday, Wednesday, Friday and another Tuesday, Sunday.”

In Guanche’s opinion, a few high-quality products and consistent application are key when it comes to skin care. Lamb agreed, noting that she likes to walk through exactly which products her patients are using and why.

“I try to pin down their goals for each product,” Lamb said. “Once I get my arms around that, then I can really trim down their regimens.”

Chwalek offered a similar viewpoint, saying that each product should have a purpose.

“Each time you’re putting something on your face, you have to ask yourself, why are you doing it? What is its purpose? If you’re using a bunch of stuff and you can’t say why you’re doing it or what it’s doing for you, I think you have to rethink it.”

It’s no surprise, therefore, that it turns out, it’s possible for a good skin care routine to be composed of only two or three basic products.

According to Guanche, the musts in beauty care are few: a cleanser, a sunscreen, and a moisturizer.

Some people might not even need moisturizers, Chwalek said, especially those who find that their skin naturally produces more oil. In her opinion, not every single person should be using the exact same products ― “it needs to be individualized,” she said ― but her typical recommendations include a gentle cleanser, a vitamin C or antioxidant serum in the morning and sunscreen.

Lamb’s essentials were similar: cleanser twice a day (once for those with drier skin), serum, eye cream, moisturizer and sunscreen. She did note, however, that some products, like combo moisturizers with SPF, can simplify things even more.

All three dermatologists told the HuffPost that toner is one product that’s not necessary for everyone. Chwalek noted it could be beneficial for those with oily skin, and Guanche suggested it for acne-prone individuals.

The reality with skin care, Chwalek said, is that we’re all “wowed by marketing and there’s new products coming out every day.”

“It’s such a huge industry. I understand the desire for people to want to use multiple things, but I do think keeping it simple is best,” she said.

Ultimately, “the best skin care is the is skin care you actually use,” Guanche said. And in this case, that doesn’t always mean more.

Research contact: @juliabruc

Clinical iPhone app takes selfies of toddlers—for early detection of vision disorders

January 31, 2019

In our selfie-centric society, almost nothing is less threatening—or more familiar—to a preschool child than having an iPhone pointed at his or her face. Enter GoCheck Kids—a startup product developed by Scottsdale, Arizona-based Gobiquity Mobile Health (formerly iCheck Health Connection) that screens young children for correctable vision impairments with a simple photo.

Used to date by roughly 4,000 pediatricians, working in 55 health systems, to screen about 9 million children nationwide, GoCheck Kids is an uploadable iPhone app that catches vision problems  in children ages six months to six years before they become disabling—and without the use of expensive and unwieldy equipment.

In the United States, the most prevalent disabling childhood conditions are vision disorders including amblyopia (“lazy eye”), strabismus (“crossed eyes”), and significant refractive errors (which cause blurred vision). Early detection increases the likelihood of effective treatment; however, until now, fewer than 15% of all preschool children received an eye exam, and fewer than 22% of preschool children received some type of vision screening.

“Vision disorders are the number one most prevalent disabling conditions among U.S. children. That’s also true for many other countries, and a lot of the reason why prevalence is so high is that most of the vision disorders are actually invisible to parents, physicians, and teachers,” Kevon Saber, CEO of Gobiquity, said in a recent interview with MobiHealthNews.

“Kids are not getting caught early enough for the issues to be treated. These are issues that keep kids from seeing well in the classroom; issues that lead to blindness, … and then there are even fatal retinal cancers,” Saber added, noting,. “Fortunately those are really rare, but [for] the first two groups of issues you really want to catch these kids by five years old, because after five the efficacy of treatment declines rapidly.”

After integrating with the provider’s electronic health records (EHR) system, users select the patient’s profile in the GoCheck Kids app and take a single photo of the patient’s eyes. Afterward, the app automatically sends the image to a patient’s EHR, and generates a sharable report with the patient’s results. Saber noted that the cloud-based service also allows providers to view the images and results remotely, if need be.

GoCheck Kids has been validated in three separate clinical trials. The latest of these, published in the Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, examined the app’s performance in 6,310 in-office screenings and found a positive predictive rate of 68%, which the authors wrote is “comparable with other commercial objective screeners.”

Following a 40-day free trial at a pediatric practice, Gobiquity offers the app as a subscription service with unlimited uses. The price ranges from $80 to $129 monthly,  based on whether a customer prefers to purchase the service as a downloadable app or as a dedicated device. Outside of the larger providers who may already be subscribing to multiple app-based services, Saber said that most of the company’s customer’s opt for the more expensive option.

“We usually ship them an iPhone because they don’t want to usually deal with all the HIPAA implications themselves, they’d rather just trust that we’re doing that,” Saber said. “The phone arrives, and they do a quick training they can do on their own time at their own pace by going to our training website, or if they want to talk to us we can walk them through it live and answer questions. Then they start screening and submit the screens to the insurance of the respective children.”

Research contact: @GoCheckKids

Trump: Worldwide threats assessment by Intelligence officials is ‘wrong’ and ‘naïve’

January 31, 2019

On January 28, the highest officials in the U.S. intelligence community—the FBI’s Christopher Wray, the CIA’s Gina Haspel, the State Department’s Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the National Security Agency’s Adm. Mike Rogers; and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s Robert Cardillo—spoke truth to the Senate Intelligence Committee during the Worldwide Threats hearing.

In doing so, they contradicted President Donald Trump’s own version of the truth.

Indeed, speaking without compunction, they testified that, while Iran is not currently seeking to develop its nuclear weapons capabilities, North Korea continues to do so—and is unlikely to give up its nuclear ambitions.

What’s more, the officials disagreed with the president’s viewpoint on terrorism—testifying that ISIS remains a threat to the United States despite Trump’s repeated comments that they have been defeated. They noted that, while ISIS has lost geographic ground, the group continues to build support for terrorist attacks worldwide.

Hacking and election interference also remain the go-to methods of manipulating the West. Coates said, “China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea increasingly [are using] cyber operations to threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways —to steal information, to influence our citizens, or to disrupt critical infrastructure.”

And the threat from America’s two biggest global enemies continues to grow. Indeed, Coates warned the Senate panel, “Moscow’s relationship with Beijing is closer than it’s been in many decades.”

President Donald Trump did not take the pushbacks to his recent policy statements in stride. On Wednesday, The Hill reported, he blasted the intelligence leaders for being “wrong” about their new assessment on Iran’s nuclear developments.

“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning in a pair of tweets.

The president, who claimed Iran has recently tested rockets, also mocked the intelligence leaders in his administration, suggesting they “should go back to school.”

The Worldwide Threats testimony received heavy attention in the media for its contrast with Trump’s comments.

Research contact: @Olivia_Beavers

Getting all your ducts in a row? Don’t’ clean them!

January 30, 2019

Today, when many of us are eating clean and trying to live green, we feel very virtuous about getting rid of the “gunk” in our bodies and our lives. Therefore, when a company calls and offers to eliminate the accumulated dust, soot, pollen, mold, and debris in our residential air ducts, we may jump at the deal as a way to banish indoor pollution (and address secondary issues such as allergies, headaches, fatigue, and respiratory illnesses).

After all, if our ducts are clean, all that air flowing out of those vents should come out clean, too, right? Well, actually, no, according to a recent report by The Washington Post.

Although duct-cleaning companies may insist that what it offers is essential for your health, the evidence does not support the claims.

Even if your ducts truly are dirty, cleaning them probably won’t provide any measurable benefits. In fact, the little independent research performed on duct cleaning indicates that the process stirs up so much dust that it creates a bigger problem than it solves.

Indeed, a study conducted by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency measured dust levels and HVAC system efficiency in test homes during a one-week period during the cooling season and found duct cleaning did not significantly improve dust levels or system performance.

Based on that report and other independent research, the EPA’s official advisory on duct cleaning concludes: “Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g. dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space….Moreover, there is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts poses any risk to your health.”

The fact is, the Post says, that dust that settles in your ventilation system generally stays where it is—unlikely to become airborne unless disturbed. Under most circumstances, the dust is inert and harmless, and stirring it up with cleaning equipment actually creates bigger issues.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), a government agency, conducted a similar study in the 1990s. After testing 33 homes in Montreal before and after duct cleaning, the researchers found that there was no significant improvement in air quality—and that duct cleaning, alone, did not improve airflow or energy efficiency.

In some cases, measured particle levels actually increased immediately after a cleaning. In other cases, particle levels decreased immediately after cleaning but returned to previous levels within weeks.

Like the EPA, the CMHC concluded that duct cleaning is unnecessary: “Ideally, the inside surface will be shiny and bright after cleaning. Duct cleaning may be justifiable to you personally for that very reason: you may not want to have your house air circulated through a duct passage that is not as clean as the rest of the house. However, duct cleaning will not usually change the quality of the air you breathe, nor will it significantly affect air flows or heating costs.”

Instead, experts recommend frequently changing air filters as the best way to keep dust, allergens, and other particles out of your home. With a newly installed system, or a system in a home you’ve just moved into, check your filter monthly to determine how quickly it gets dirty at different times of the year. Most should be replaced every two or three months.

In general, consider duct cleaning only in response to specific, identifiable problems. For example, the EPA suggests having air ducts cleaned if there is visible evidence of:

  • Substantial mold growth,
  • Infestation of insects or rodents, or
  • Substantial deposits of dust or debris (if registers were not sealed during a renovation project, for example).

If anyone in your household has specific health concerns, such as allergies or asthma, consult your physician first. It’s important to identify the problem so your doctor can suggest alternatives to duct cleaning. Start by identifying whether your ducts are part of the problem (they probably aren’t) and whether getting them cleaned will help (it probably won’t).

Finally, if you suspect a mold problem—either because of visible growth or a musty smell consistently coming from supply vents — the experts generally recommend  tracking down and eliminating moisture problem, itself, whether it originates under a sink or part of a heating and cooling system.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

During Year of the Pig, affluent shoppers will be in a ‘swine state of mind’

January 30, 2019

On February 5, the Year of the Pig—the 12th of all zodiac animals and a symbol of wealth—begins, along with the Chinese New Year. Accordingly, producers and retailers of luxury goods are taking action, in hopes of taking in profits from celebrants and affluent shoppers.

With 33% of the world’s luxury products being snapped up by those of Chinese descent, according to McKinsey & Company, Western retailers are looking to “hog” their business on—a leading social shopping community for Chinese expats, as well as for global consumer brands seeking to reach Chinese-language shoppers.

Likewise, top luxury brands are in a “swine state of mind”—looking to attract business by putting pigs on their products and posting them on Dealmoon, which regularly attracts 17.6 million unique monthly visitors.

Manufacturers and fashion houses—from Gucci to Johnnie Walker, from Swiss Army Knife to Chloë, from Prada to S’well —have created expensive goods with pig laminates and overlays that have the “aww” factor (or the “oink” factor, depending on your preferences).

“Chinese are the third-largest foreign-born group in the United States; as of 2017, there are 6 million of us and Dealmoon gets 17.6 million clicks a month from these consumers,” says Co-Founder Jennifer Wang.

“Since 2009, we have been serving up the products we know these Millennials and GenZer’s crave,” she notes, adding, “Retailers have known about our proclivity to buy products with the Chinese New Year animal for good luck, but this year, the list of retailers who have made this commitment is becoming even more impressive.

Among the specific articles for sale: Swiss Army Knife’s Year of the Pig Huntsman Army Knife ($105), Davidoff’s Year of the Pig Limited Edition Cigar ($39), and Baccarat ‘s Zodiac Pig ($195) . Gucci has created an entire line of handbags, accessories, and clothing that features the storybook “Three Little Pigs” and dedicated brand-new pages on their website to celebrate the collection.

Research contact:

Judiciary Committee delays confirmation vote on Barr amid doubts by Dems

January 30, 2019

A scheduled Senate Judiciary Committee vote on the nomination of William Barr to be U.S. attorney general has been delayed by a week, to February 5, as Democrats on the panel continue to worry that he will cut the Russia inquiry short—or fail to release Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report to the Congress and the American people.

According to coverage by U.S. News & World Report, such delays—known as holdovers—are not uncommon. However, this one comes during a “pronounced partisan divide” over seating Barr, coming just one day after Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker told the media that the Mueller “investigation is, I think, close to being completed.”

Barr came under intense scrutiny from Democrats late last year, the news outlet said, when he sent an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department expressing doubts about the legitimacy of any inquiry into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice.

During the hearing, Barr has avowed, “…it is in the best interest of everyone—the president, Congress, and the American people—that this matter be resolved by allowing the special counsel to complete his work.”

However, to date, he has not promised to make the full report available when it is completed. Instead, Barr has pledged, “to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law”—a statement that brings little comfort to the opposition party.

Research contact: @alneuhauser

Should we go with the flow? The pros and cons of vitamin IV drips

January 29, 2019

Many Americans are “hitting the sack” these days—and it’s not for more sleep. They are visiting clinics and getting hooked up to intravenous sacks for vitamin drip therapy.

But questions remain: Is it safe? Is it effective in preventing or curing any health problems? Or is it simply an expensive way—usually not covered by health insurance—to elevate social status; with minimal side effects, either good or bad.

IV vitamin therapy (also known as vitamin IV drip and IV vitamin drip therapy), involves hooking up to an IV bag to receive a vitamins and minerals. Clinics offering these treatments are popping up across the country, for people who hope to boost immunity or alochol fight off illness; enjoy more radiant skin or hair; beat a hangover; or restore energy, Prevention magazine reports.

However, there is little evidence to show that any of these claims is true..

The magazine recently interviewed two doctors to learn more about who might benefit from IV vitamin therapy—and how—plus whether there are any drawbacks or risks to having it.

 “I do not know of any convincing evidence that, for example, an IV drip of zinc, B12, C, and magnesium will cure colds and flu,” Sidney C. Ontai, MD, a family medicine doctor and program director at Texas A&M University’s DeTar Family Medicine Residency, told Prevention.

On the other hand, Albert Ahn, MD, an Internal Medicine specialist and clinical instructor of Medicine at NYU Langone Health, said he believed that IV vitamin drips might provide two clear-cut benefits. For one, IV vitamin therapy ensures that vitamins and minerals are absorbed faster than they would be via oral consumption or supplementation.

Some people may prefer that quick fix,” Dr. Ahn told the medical news outlet. “Will it boost your stores quicker? Yes it will. But to sustain those stores, you’ll still need to continue to take it in. You’re better off probably taking an oral supplement on a daily basis.”

Additionally, IV therapy may offer some benefit by boosting hydration levels. “It does improve your hydration, and that will, for most people, make you feel better—whether you have a cold or [are] fighting an infection, or you’re a little hungover, or feeling a little under the weather,” Dr. Ahn told prevention.

But he notes that you can reap the same benefits by simply drinking more fluids. And if a healthy, properly hydrated person shows up for IV vitamin therapy, odds are good they’ll just excrete any fluids that their body doesn’t need.

“If you don’t absolutely need these drips, [you] might just be passing it out throughout the day,” Dr. Ahn says. It’s possible that someone might feel better for a short while after IV vitamin therapy, but for the most part, Dr. Ahn says any benefits to the average healthy person can likely be chalked up to the placebo effect.

However, IV vitamin therapy may provide significant benefits to people who are struggling with health conditions that make it challenging for their bodies to retain or process nutrients. Delivering nutrients via IV ensures that vitamins and minerals enter directly into the bloodstream (thereby bypassing the gut), which can speed up the replacement of nutrients.

Because of this, doctors routinely prescribe IV vitamin therapy for a number of medical conditions, says Dr. Ontai. For example, he might prescribe IV thiamine for someone going through alcohol withdrawal, IV B12 for renal dialysis patients, or IV multivitamins for people with health conditions that make it challenging for their bodies to tolerate or absorb food in the stomach or intestines.

 “With certain conditions, the absorption [via IV] may be quicker,” Dr. Ahn explains. For example, people with chronic or severe anemia may find that upping their iron intake via oral supplementation leads to an upset stomach or other side effects. In contrast, taking iron via IV may replete stores faster and without provoking stomach issues.

But for the most part, Dr. Ontai and Dr. Ahn agree that a relatively healthy person doesn’t require IV vitamin therapy.

“For your average, healthy, young patient, it’s probably not a necessity,” Dr. Ahn says. “If they have good gut health and healthy habits and a decent diet, [they] should be able to get most of these [nutrients] through food and a normal diet.”

While the IV vitamin therapy isn’t necessary for healthy people, the good news is that people seeking these treatments are, for the most part, unlikely to do themselves any harm.

“If it makes them feel better, there’s not a whole lot of downside,” Dr. Ahn says. That said, intravenous treatment always carries some potential drawbacks. “Anytime you introduce something intravenously, there are risks,” Dr. Ahn says. For example, people might experience bleeding or bruising at the injection site, and infection is a possibility.

Research contact: @prevention