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The History of Vitamin Infusions: Crash Course On IV Therapy from Our Toronto Clinic


Did you know that IV vitamin drips have existed for centuries? In our IV therapy Toronto-based lounge, we educate patients on the benefits of intravenous therapy. Sometimes our discussions ramble into how these treatments began!

During ancient periods, it wasn’t uncommon for “healers” to use natural ingredients to treat patients; herbal remedies are an example of these treatments. Starting in the 19th century, IV therapy treatments evolved. IV bags eventually became common use for vitamin drip therapy, which is what we currently use to deliver essential vitamins and medicines that can’t be taken orally by patients. 

The beneficial effects of IV nutrient therapy continue to support the human body, especially when used by medical teams. These positive effects may involve (but are not limited to):

  • Boosting levels of hydration (rehydration of fluids) 
  • Alleviating electrolyte imbalances
  • Promoting red blood cell production 
  • Delivering an energy boost
  • Helping to address nutrient deficiencies, including low iron levels
  • Promoting a shortened recovery time and the healthy growth of muscle
  • Replenishing the body with a powerful combination of vital nutrients for optimal functioning and peak performance.

Here, the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre explores the roots of intravenous infusions and its use on today’s patients for various health concerns, such as nutritional deficiency, brain fog, chronic fatigue, growth of hair, iron absorption, wound healing, and more. 

Timeline of Intravenous Vitamin Therapy

The body naturally thrives off of hydration, key vitamins, major minerals, major antioxidants, and other nutrients for optimal health. Luckily, IV treatments are available when oral supplementation cannot be consumed! It took centuries to put the finishing touches on intravenous drip therapy – but functional medicine providers and IV therapists are grateful for these breakthroughs. Here’s a historical timeline of IV therapy:  

  • Middle Ages: Reportedly, an Italian scientist injected ingredients directly into his own veins and discovered that the body reacts to injections. Published works from that timeframe also explain that wine and saliva were provided through the veins for health reasons. 
  • 1600s-1700s: Sir Christopher Wren fashioned a device for administering infusions. Wren’s key components for this device consisted of a pig’s bladder and a writing quill. Though it was a novel idea, the setup couldn’t uphold its maintenance of strength and durability. By the mid-late 1600s, Dr. Jean-Baptiste Denys administered an intravenous drip to a man who ended up passing away. Due to this death, the doctor was put on trial for manslaughter, though acquitted. 
  • 1800s-1900s: Dr. Thomas Latta noticed that salt water injected into the blood flow could help treat cholera-ridden patients. It was also determined by Dr. James Blundell that only human blood is permissible for being transferred into the human body. Through 1900, it was revealed that human blood is not identical, and that there are four blood types. Vitamin IV therapy heightened in popularity by 1914 for its positive effects; for example, intravenous sodium citrate was found to prevent blood coagulation. As the 1960s approached, intravenous therapy drips became the core components of health care settings; we were also introduced to the Myers’ cocktail, a famous vitamin infusion named after its creator, Dr. John Myers. 
  • Present day: IV drip therapy is still practiced for its beneficial effects! It’s embraced in various health situations, such as delivering optimal hydration after physical daily activities, to saving lives in an Emergency Room. Due to its administration of high doses of vitamins, it’s become an option for patients with custom health care or for those with issues related to malabsorption or swallowing pills. 

Further access to education has allowed patients to understand that IV therapy drips can nourish the body with nutrients – ensuring a complete absorption of nutrients – while helping to prevent cellular damage and oxidative damage, plus correct deficiencies. In turn, it’s widely accessible for various health conditions, including autoimmune conditions related to brain function and skin cells. It’s also not unusual for clinics across the GTA (including our private downtown clinic!) to offer drips as a personalized service. These may include an anti-aging IV drip, post-surgical drip, post-exercise amino acid drip, or even a customized immune drip. 

What can intravenous therapy do for you? If you need help achieving health goals (i.e. improvements to physical exertion or mental clarity), the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre can conduct a complete diagnostic session. We offer IV therapy treatments as adjunct support to address different health concerns, including those linked to athletic performances, energy levels, cognitive function, healthy ageing, support insulin levels, metabolism boost, and more.  

How Our IV Lounge Works

Our IV Lounge provides intravenous infusion treatments as additional support to other therapies, including allopathic medicine, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. As functional medicine practitioners, we encourage new and existing patients to integrate modalities; this may help foster improvements for liver detoxification, cellular function (cell synthesis), and chronic pain levels. When amalgamated with a healthy lifestyle, vitamin IV therapy could contribute to optimal functioning. 

Safety is top-of-mind for our health care team. During your first IV therapy session and for each and every succeeding IV drip therapies, a health provider (i.e. medical doctor, naturopathic doctor or nurse practitioner) supervises your vitals. On the day of your appointment, we freshly compound your IV drip according to your unique biology and treatment plan. Keep in mind, we tailor doses of nutrients in line with integrative functional medicine principles – these are unique therapeutic doses blended specifically for your chief health concerns, from a hangover symptom, to supporting the  healing of scars, and lack of energy to boosting physical performance (muscle recovery), cellular functioning, and immune function. 

If you have questions about our natural ingredients for drip vitamin therapy, ask away! Our IV menu is plentiful, containing ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin A, vitamin E, glutamic acid (L-glutamic acid), a combination of amino acids, N- Acetylcysteine, and other key nutrients. Vitamin D booster shots are also accessible. 

Uncover the health benefits of IV therapy from our Toronto lounge! Fill in our contact form to request your initial consultation – let’s address your health concerns to improve your quality of life, daily routine, pain levels, and more. 

Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website.


Dychter, Samuel S. MD; Gold, David A. PhD; Carson, Deborah RN; Haller, Michael PhD. Intravenous Therapy: A Review of Complications and Economic Considerations of Peripheral Access. Journal of Infusion Nursing 35(2):p 84-91, March/April 2012. | DOI: 10.1097/NAN.0b013e31824237ce

Janakan G, Ellis H. Dr Thomas Aitchison Latta (c1796-1833): pioneer of intravenous fluid replacement in the treatment of cholera. J Med Biogr. 2013 May;21(2):70-4. doi: 10.1258/jmb.2012.012004. PMID: 24585745.

Millam D. The history of intravenous therapy. J Intraven Nurs. 1996 Jan-Feb;19(1):5-14. PMID: 8708844.

The Origins of Intravenous Fluids” from Discover Magazine, by Rebecca Kreston, published May 31, 2016, viewed on June 2, 2023. 

ZIMMERMAN, JERRY J. PhD, MD; STRAUSS, RICHARD H. MD. History and current application of intravenous therapy in children. Pediatric Emergency Care 5(2):p 120-127, June 1989.


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