Earlier last week, the company Getadrip were met with controversy when their fertility drip was withdrawn – I decided to try out their service
Firstly, I should say that, until yesterday, I had never been to Westfield White City, London’s second most mammoth and headache-inducing shopping centre (after its Stratford counterpart). It felt strange to make my inaugural trip there not to shop, but to be plugged into an IV that promised to rejuvenate my body. The company Getadrip, who sell “IV Vitamin Drips & IV Nutrient Therapy” – in the form of concoctions that are pumped directly into your bloodstream – have a flagship store in Shoreditch’s BoxPark and also offer home visits, but I chose Westfield because I couldn’t resist the paradox of receiving an intimate wellness treatment in one of the busiest places in Britain, like having a gong bath in the middle of Topshop Oxford Street, or an enema in King’s Cross St. Pancras.
IV vitamin drips have been a fad for a while now. I first remember seeing Cara Delevingne rigged up to one in 2014, I’ve seen fellow journalists getting them sent to their offices to relieve their hangovers (for which there are specially tailored anti-sickness and hydration drips containing paracetamol), and at festivals, some rely on their revitalising benefits to survive four day benders – a company called EffectDoctors, for instance, recently brought a pop up shop to Glastonbury. Personally, though, I have always dismissed vitamin drips as a trend for people with too much disposable income and a flair for amateur dramatics. After all, what is wrong with a good old Berocca, which is approximately 350 times cheaper than your standard IV?
Getadrip’s offerings start at around £75 for basic hydration and range to a staggering £850 for the ‘limitless drip’ which basically contains most of the good stuff that your body needs to function. The company offers more than fifteen types of drip, including an anti-ageing drip and hair health and skin brightening drips – demonstrating that they are for more than just hangovers. Recently the company made headlines when their fertility drip was removed. “A wellness company has withdrawn a £250 IV "fertility drip" after experts said it could ‘exploit vulnerable women’,” reported the BBC. The news came after an anaesthetist called Tom Dolphin alerted the Quality Care Commission to Getadrip’s potentially false advertising on Twitter. Experts have claimed that there is no proof vitamins administered through an IV drip can aid pregnancy. Perhaps all of this controversy is why Getadrip were so keen to invite me to come and try out one of the drips for myself, to witness the benefits of their product first hand.
When I arrived at Westfield, I struggled to locate Getadrip’s station in the labryinth of the shopping centre, making me late for my appointment and extremely stressed. I felt more panicked when I arrived at their small island of booths and remembered that I am slightly afraid of needles, and very squeamish when it comes to blood. Lucikly, the staff were friendly and reassuring. I was offered a carrot juice and a menu. The fertility drip had been scribbled off the menu in black marker pen. I wanted a ‘party drip’ but for once I wasn’t hungover (the assistant explained that without a hangover, one couldn't experience the benefits of the drip, which made sense), so I opted for the detox drip, which retails at £125 and contains vitamin C, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6, Saline, Potassium, Calcium, Bicarbonate, and an extra four shots of the antioxidant Glutathione administered separately. I was told it was restorative to the liver.
After entering my medical information on an iPad, and signing the waiver, a nurse came to take my blood pressure, then strapped me up and began to try and locate my difficult-to-find veins. It was surreal being shot up on the shop floor of Westfield – children walked past and asked their parents what was going on as I tried not to be sick or faint at the thought of the nurse puncturing my veins. Once the drip was rigged up I felt a cold sensation and lay back to relax against my branded Getadrip cushions and blanket. After a hectic day, it was nice to be tethered to something and unable to text (they used my right arm), so although I was technically plugged in, I also managed to unplug. I quickly got used to the shoppers walking past and gawping at me and even began to enjoy the idea that they would think I am someone rich and frivolous enough to buy myself a drip for £125 in the middle of the day.
After around 30 minutes, the IV had drained and I was disconnected, given a plaster and checked up on. Truthfully, I felt the exact same as when I walked in, but the type of drip I had was not meant to elicit instant effects; it was meant to make me feel gradually better on the inside. The helpful Getadrip staff member who was serving me told me that while many people think of drips as an unnecessary luxury item, there are a lot of practical reasons why you might pay for one. Beyond a hangover cure, they can provide vegans with a much-needed dose of B12 for instance, and for people with busy lives who feel themselves coming down with a cold, a big old shot of vitamins can help to stave off illness. He told me that Lady Gaga has them because they help with her Lupus and that Rihanna and Kim Kardashian are fans. He told me that, while around 20 people visit their shop a day, no one type of person forms the Getadrip customer base - Getadrip is for anyone. Albeit anyone who can afford it.
Would I visit Getadrip again? Yes, if I had the cash. It was a pleasant experience, the staff made me feel totally safe and despite the Westfield setting, I found the clinical environment of the Getadrip stand itself oddly soothing. I felt quite good the next day, but I can’t claim that was connected. Perhaps next time I will go for one of the other treatments on the gradually growing IV market, like NAD+ – the miracle molecule that is supposed to fight the signs of ageing. Or a CBD drip, part of the growing move into injecting cannabinoids intravenously for their health benefits. Maybe once I have been for a few more IV drips, the whole experience will feel normal; for now, and for the everyman, getting a drip feels more still feels more Black Mirror and less like a regular or accessible wellness treatment with tangible benefits.