Billy Penn reporter Anna Orso being prepped to get a jolt of vitamins.

On Wednesday afternoon in the middle of a public relations firm in Center City, I felt calmer than I had in weeks — like I’d just had a great night of sleep and woke up to some easy yoga.

I was hooked up to an IV for less than a half an hour and jolted with a cocktail of vitamins. Despite the intense relaxed feeling, it wasn’t lethargy. I walked back to my office after the experience feeling clear-headed and focused, like I’d just had four cups of coffee and then calmed myself down with a bit of green… tea.

But instead of being filled with unhealthy substances, I was chock full of vitamins and fully hydrated.

On the 18th floor of 1500 Walnut Street Wednesday, a handful of men were setting up what looked like a triage center in the back of the office of Braithwaite Communications. The doctors were from RestoreIV, a startup of sorts based in East Falls that provides concierge IV services to everyone from professional athletes to agencies filled with busy workers to folks with chronic illnesses.

The doctors explained that they’d give me a custom cocktail of vitamins like magnesium, B12 and a blend of other fluids meant to restore my body to nutritional balance. The goal was to feel calmer, fully hydrated and be able to walk away from the experience feeling restored and like I could tackle the day clear-headed (and then go home to have the best sleep of my life).

So I gave the doctors a brief medical history, signed a consent form and got hooked up to the IV. After the first few minutes, I started feeling the effects: Heightened senses (I commented at the time that I felt like I could feel my clothes?) and an overall feeling of calm.

Meanwhile, the back of my throat tasted like citrus-flavored chalk and the docs told me the Emergen-C-like taste was totally normal — it meant the vitamins were being absorbed by my body.

And, by God, this thing that I was nervous for (and thought was *maybe* a scam) actually worked.

Medical equipment set up for Restore IV’s concierge service.
Medical equipment set up for Restore IV’s concierge service.

RestoreIV, which officially got off the ground in October, was started by a group of physicians who knew each other from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Jason Hartman was a proctor at the school; Jonathan White was one of his students.

White, who’s an anesthesiologist by trade, said he and his partners were inspired by a practice in Las Vegas called “Hangover Heaven.” There, people who administer a similar IV treatment travel around Vegas in a party bus hooking people up to an IV and filling them up with antioxidants, vitamins, fluids for hydration and nausea or headache medication to almost instantly cure hangovers.

The docs from Philly wanted to try something a bit more serious. So after months researching the science and the pharmacology, they melded the idea with a continuing problem they saw in hospital emergency rooms: People with migraines or treatable conditions waiting hours simply to get an IV of magnesium or some other readily available vitamin.

And RestoreIV was born. Today, they offer seven different cocktails:

  1. Pure – for hydration.
  2. Detox – for recovery. This one is most similar to the hangover cures.
  3. Migraine – for severe headache relief. This cocktail has magnesium to feel better and can sometimes include Benadryl for folks in their own homes able to doze off until their migraine subsides.
  4. Immune Protection – for cold and flu resilience. One of RestoreIV’s more popular cocktails, this IV is used when you feel a cold coming on and would normally reach for the Emergen-C.
  5. Beauty – for radiance. No, it won’t make you an instant 10, but this vitamin combination is supposed to make your skin and hair glow.
  6. Performance – for energy. This one would likely be used for professional athletes in Philly who apparently love the service.
  7. Custom – for you. The custom vitamin combination is created after a consultation and testing series with the physicians from RestoreIV.

This stuff isn’t cheap. The IV’s start at about $100 and go up from there, the custom IV being the most expensive at over $300 (and this can sometimes be reimbursed by insurance companies). So yeah, it’s more expensive than a multi-vitamin or a box of Emergen-C. But the effects are greatly heightened because the vitamins are absorbed directly into a patient’s bloodstream.

White said RestoreIV justifies the price point by reminding users that it’s a concierge service. They’ll come to your house and give you an IV to treat a chronic disease. They’ll come to your high-end agency and pump up stressed workers in what could be one of the fanciest, most new age work perks we’ve heard of yet. And they’re doctors — so the medical advice is real.

Patients who go to RestoreIV with chronic illnesses go through full nutritional testing and can then be recommended a course of between four and eight IV treatments. From there, they’ll be switched over to oral vitamins for maintenance. The goal isn’t to get an IV every week for life.

Jason Hartman of Restore IV talks with an employee of Braithwaite about her medical history before she got an IV treatment.
Jason Hartman of Restore IV talks with an employee of Braithwaite about her medical history before she got an IV treatment.

For the 16 brave Braithwaite employees and I, Wednesday’s triage was like being part of the nutritional treatment of the future. Andrew Africk, an account executive, said the IV made him feel at ease and relaxed and “as people here can attest to,” he said, “I am very infrequently relaxed.”

I walked out of the office feeling like a better version of my normally hyperactive self. And I no longer felt like one of the 75 percent of Americans who, at this very moment, are dehydrated.

Would I do something like this again? Hard to say. Ask me next time I have a migraine.

Or next Saturday morning.

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.