July 27th, 2009 by Potato

In a recent comment, Rez asked what I thought about Cold-FX. To be honest, I haven’t read much of the background about it: there are placebo-controlled studies out there, but I’ve only read their abstracts (if that).

For those who haven’t heard, Cold-FX is a product that used to claim it could prevent colds/flus, and reduce the duration and severity if you did catch one. At first I have to admit I thought it was the highest form of quackery, as they claim that they have a patented process that extracts the “active ingredient” from ginseng to make it more potent at preventing colds. Sounds pretty fishy, and their initial sales pitch was via a shouting Don Cherry, which didn’t lend it scientific credibility in my opinion. However I know numerous people who swear by it, and more still who swear by the near-equivalent natural cold prevention of ginseng and echinacea. Health Canada has said they only have proof to advertise reducing the frequency, duration, and severity, so that’s all they claim now (i.e.: they can’t say “immediate relief” anymore). Still, there is some decent evidence that it works in that respect, or else it wouldn’t have Health Canada’s blessing.

Wayfare takes it pretty much every day, and when she does catch a cold it does help somewhat with the symptoms. It can also help delay a cold from coming on full-strength: if she’s at that point where she can feel a cold coming on, she claims she can load up on Cold-FX (what is it, 9 pills a day at that point?) and prevent it from knocking her out completely for a few days. However, even taking the recommended 3 pills a day it doesn’t seem to be able to prevent them completely.

At $1/day for the recommended dosage for prevention I find it a little pricey considering most of the time I wouldn’t be at risk of catching a cold anyway, so I only take it preventatively from late October through December, when flu season is worst at the hospital. That “three times a day every day for the rest of your life” part is where I think it slips over from “useful tool in the fight against colds” to “nice racket if you can get it.” Even during flu season I only take one or two a day instead of the recommended three, which has as much to do with the fact that I think they purposefully set their daily dosage high to sell pills as it does with the fact that I don’t like the coating — the pills seem to stick on the way down, it’s not very pleasant. There’s also the issue of just having too many damned pills to take every day. I’m more convinced of the benefits of loading up on a B-vitamin and D every day, so I’ll take those first, and by then I’m getting sick of throwing pills down my throat when I’m not even sick!

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