Can A Myers' Cocktail Help Me?

man holding intravenous bag of liquid with fruits inside it

The Bottom Line

The Myers’ cocktail contains vitamins and electrolytes and is used to treat various medical conditions. Although the ingredients are natural and seemingly safe, this treatment is associated with adverse effects and there is limited evidence supporting the benefits of its use.

Nurse preparing bright yellow intravenous infusion

The Full Story

At least 40% of adults in the United States use some form of complementary and alternative medicine therapy, including vitamins and dietary supplements. While many people use oral vitamins and over-the-counter supplements bought from drugstores, the use of intravenous vitamins and hydration therapies has also increased in popularity in recent years. Intravenous vitamins and hydration are used to treat hangovers, help our bodies fight off infections, prevent aging, and enhance athletic performance. These treatments are frequently offered by medical spas and clinics. Sometimes, intravenous treatments may even be administered in hotel rooms, buses, or airports.

A Maryland doctor named Dr. John Myers was one of the first physicians to promote the use of intravenous nutrient therapy. Unfortunately, Dr. Myers did not keep detailed written records about what his treatments included, so the actual ingredients used in his intravenous nutrient therapy recipes remain unknown to this day. After he died in 1984, one of his colleagues took over the care of many of his patients and developed an intravenous nutrient therapy regimen that he named the “Myers’ cocktail” in honor of the late Dr. Myers. The ingredients in this regimen included intravenous magnesium, calcium, multiple B vitamins, and vitamin C. The ingredients are not standardized, and variations of this formulation are still used by many holistic or alternative medicine practitioners to treat various conditions including chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression, and migraine headaches.
Despite the increasing acceptance of intravenous nutrient therapy and the abundance of clinics offering these products, there is limited evidence to suggest that these treatments offer any clinical benefit. Very few medical studies have evaluated the effectiveness of the Myers’ cocktail in the treatment of medical conditions. In one study of the use of the Myers’ cocktail in fibromyalgia patients, there were no significant differences in clinical outcomes in patients who received the Myers’ cocktail versus those who received a placebo. In another study of the use of the Myers’ cocktail in fibromyalgia patients, many patients reported having increased energy levels within 1-2 days of receiving the cocktail, but no patients had complete resolution of pain or fatigue. Overall, the Myers’ cocktail has not been proven to effectively treat any medical condition.

Despite the lack of evidence, some medical clinics promote the Myers’ cocktail as a definitive medical treatment. The United States Federal Trade Commission has ordered at least one company to stop marketing their intravenous nutrient therapies as a treatment for cancer, multiple sclerosis, and heart failure. The use of intravenous nutrient therapies, including the Myers’ cocktail, can be harmful to some individuals. Adverse events, including a sense of warmth, muscle cramps, low blood pressure, and fainting may occur after Myers’ cocktail administration. The vitamins and electrolytes included in the Myers’ cocktail may interact with prescription medications, causing potentially life-threatening conditions. As with any intravenous medical therapy, there are risks of allergic reactions and infections or irritation related to IV placement.  In addition, although vitamins are natural and perceived as safe, they can be poisonous when taken in large amounts. 

Because of these potential undesirable side effects, intravenous therapies should ideally be provided in a hospital or traditional medical setting. In the United States, intravenous hydration solutions, including vitamins and minerals, are regulated as prescription drugs and must be prescribed by a licensed medical professional. In some clinics or medical spas, that licensed medical professional may be the clinic’s medical director who has limited or no involvement with the patients. In some cases, the medical director may not be physically present in the clinic. 

For individuals who prefer to use complementary and alternative medicine, there are likely safer and more effective alternatives to the Myers’ cocktail. Acupuncture, yoga, and mind-body practices are generally safe and may have beneficial effects on medical conditions, including pain. Integrative medicine, which combines the techniques of both conventional and alternative medicine, is another option for individuals who are searching for additional ways to improve their health and wellbeing.

Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD
Medical Toxicologist

Poisoned?

Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • Intravenous therapies, including hydration and electrolytes, should be administered in a hospital-based setting or medical clinic.
  • Be aware that the ingredients of the Myers’ cocktail are not standardized, and different providers may use different formulations.
  • Know that the Myers’ cocktail has not been scientifically proven to treat any medical condition.
  • Use caution when receiving services from medical spas or alternative medicine clinics. Ensure that there is always a licensed physician present while you are receiving treatment.

This Really Happened

In 2018, the supermodel Kendall Jenner received an intravenous vitamin infusion while preparing to attend the Vanity Fair party after the Academy Awards. She experienced an adverse reaction to the infusion and was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where she was treated and later released. She likely made a quick recovery, as she was still able to attend the party.


For More Information

If you have a question about poisoning from Myers’ cocktail or other vitamins, get help online with webPOISONCONTROL or call 1-800-222-1222. Both options are free for the public, and available 24 hours a day.

References

Ali A, Njike VY, Northrup V, Sabina AB, Williams AL, Liberti LS, Perlman AI, Adelson H, Katz DL. Intravenous micronutrient therapy (Myers' Cocktail) for fibromyalgia: a placebo-controlled pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Mar;15(3):247-57.

Chan LN, Seres DS, Malone A, Holcombe B, Guenter P, Plogsted S, Teitelbaum DH. Hangover and hydration therapy in the time of intravenous drug shortages: an ethical dilemma and a safety concern. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2014 Nov;38(8):921-3.

Deng G. Integrative Medicine Therapies for Pain Management in Cancer Patients. Cancer J. 2019 Sep/Oct;25(5):343-348. 

Federal Trade Commission. FTC brings first-ever action targeting “IV cocktail” therapy marketer. Available at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2018/09/ftc-brings-first-ever-action-targeting-iv-cocktail-therapy. Accessed August 7, 2021.

Gaby AR. Intravenous nutrient therapy: the "Myers' cocktail". Altern Med Rev. 2002 Oct;7(5):389-403. 

Massey PB. Reduction of fibromyalgia symptoms through intravenous nutrient therapy: results of a pilot clinical trial. Altern Ther Health Med. 2007 May-Jun;13(3):32-4.

People.com. Kendall Jenner was hospitalized before attending Vanity Fair Oscars party: report. Available at https://people.com/style/kendall-jenner-hospitalized-before-oscars/. Accessed August 7, 2021.

Poisoned?

Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • Intravenous therapies, including hydration and electrolytes, should be administered in a hospital-based setting or medical clinic.
  • Be aware that the ingredients of the Myers’ cocktail are not standardized, and different providers may use different formulations.
  • Know that the Myers’ cocktail has not been scientifically proven to treat any medical condition.
  • Use caution when receiving services from medical spas or alternative medicine clinics. Ensure that there is always a licensed physician present while you are receiving treatment.

This Really Happened

In 2018, the supermodel Kendall Jenner received an intravenous vitamin infusion while preparing to attend the Vanity Fair party after the Academy Awards. She experienced an adverse reaction to the infusion and was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where she was treated and later released. She likely made a quick recovery, as she was still able to attend the party.