Airborne vs. Cold and Flu?

>> Monday, November 23, 2009

Although fewer people seem to be complaining that they are sick or have the flu already this year, that doesn’t mean the “season” is over. It’s important to remember that the best treatments for colds and flu are natural and may already be in your kitchen. However that is not going to stop major corporations from compiling their own unique blend of drugs, herbs, and/or vitamins into an easy-to-swallow pill or effervescent formula.

Enter Airborne.

You probably already know it. It was introduced on the sly to groceries like Trader Joe’s and billed as a new and natural medicine “invented by a teacher.” The logic, of course, being that teachers are around many sick kids and must therefore be experts on staying healthy.

Around our house, we tested Airborne in the early days when it first came out. What can you say? It was fizzy and had a strong Vitamin-C kick to it. We couldn’t really tell whether when we got better it was due to taking Airborne or just… because. However it stuck around the household for a good long while because something was better than nothing, because we didn’t know better, and because we at least didn’t want to use any drugs.

It would appear that most proponents of the medicine testify that it works to fight colds simply because of their belief that it does. To be fair, believing that you are going to get better will actually help – that idea has been proven elsewhere. But $20 for three plastic tubes of belief is a pretty high price point just to cure a cold.

By now, of course or hopefully, you have heard about the class action lawsuit about the bogus clinical investigation originally claimed as proof by Airborne. It was settled out of court, and possibly-maybe some people cashed in on the refund. No, it was not right for Airborne to essentially stage a clinical study – not at all. But mostly, they were (are) very careful to make you think it cures colds, so they were just smart enough to have found ways to sell through the loopholes in American law.

Even after all this, you may still have some Airborne left over, or are still buying and using it today. You should really stop. Not only is it a really expensive way for you to get a few vitamins and herbs that you could be more economically purchasing in other methods, but it can actually harm you.

Taking Airborne according to its instructions could land you with acute Hypervitaminosis A, which is a fancy way of saying an overdose of vitamin A. You’ll probably recover, but it’s still nothing to play around with. While we’re on the subject of Vitamin A, you should also know that you should really be consuming it along with Vitamin D, and vice-versa. The Weston A Price foundation explains how these two vitamins have a cooperative effect on each other.

Airborne contains added glutamine. Not being an expert on gluten-free living, I can only say that it is a precursor to the excitotoxin glutamate. Simply put, you should not be in a position where you need to supply additional glutamine to your diet; it should be provided naturally by the foods you choose.

There are at least three sugar substitutes in this product. Did you find them? Much like their deceptive packaging which might lead you to believe Airborne is effective against colds, finding the sugar substitutes is something you really have stop and search for. There is Acesulfame Potassium – that is, Acesulfame K, sorbitol, and sucralose (or Splenda). Depending on the type of chemical, artificial sugars should either be avoided, or avoided at all costs.

Finally, or hopefully finally, even the Vitamin C in Airborne could pose a problem. The National Council Against Health Fraud explains that adult version of Airborne has 1000 mg of vitamin C, which at the recommended dosage contains enough vitamin C to increase oxalate and urate excretion and thus may cause kidney stones.

So the next time you feel a cold coming on, skip the Airborne, and just go eat a few cloves of garlic. You’ll be better off in body as well as in pocketbook.

A special thanks to YourGlutenFreeRecipes, DO, and GC for advice and links about this article.

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About Psychic Lunch

Psychic Lunch was founded in 2009 by a nerd and father who wants people to be healthy. The information on this site is researched, but should be considered opinion; that is, you should always do your own research and come to your own conclusions about what is and what is not healthy. Products endorsed on this site are actually believed in and used by the author.


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