Cold-fX: More Hype than Hope for Colds and the Flu

20080122-_MG_6352

Cold and flu season is in full swing here in Canada, and we’re all trying to avoid catching something, and recover faster if we’re already sick. Supported by endorsements from Canadian celebrities, and a recently announced tie-in with the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the biggest selling cold product in Canada is Cold-fX, manufactured by Edmonton-based Afexa Life Sciences. If it’s not already in a pharmacy near you, it will be soon.

What is Cold-fX?

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) has been used medicinally for centuries, most commonly as an “adaptogen” where it was and is still believed to be effective for everything from anemia to AIDS to impotence and even cancer. [1] Few uses have been evaluated scientifically, and when studied, ginseng has not been demonstrated to be conclusively effective for any medicinal use. [1] [2]

Colds can be caused by one of hundreds of viruses. In general, adults get 4-6 colds per year.  There are few effective treatments for colds, with most products simply relieving symptoms, without affecting the duration of the cold. Influenza (the flu) is caused by one of three influenza viruses (A, B, or C). Influenza can cause much more serious infections than colds, especially in the very young, the very old, and other high-risk individuals.  Both colds and flu are easily transmitted by hand contact or by inhalation. Both cause a cascade of immune reactions in response to an infection.  Headache, fever, fatigue, congestion, cough, and sore throat are all common symptoms.

Continue reading

The Drugstore Detox Delusion

detox

How ineffective products treat non-existent conditions

They may line the shelves of your local pharmacy. Boxes or bottles, with some combination of “detox”, “cleanse” or “flush” in the product name.  The label promises you a renewed body and better health – only seven days and $21.95 away.

Detoxification is a legitimate medical term: It refers to procedures to treat dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or poisons, like heavy metals.  Detoxification treatments are conducted by trained medical staff in a hospital or clinic- it’s not a do-it-yourself endeavor. So what’s with all the detox products in the drugstore?

For some reason, “detoxification” has been widely embraced in popular culture, and it’s now applied to all sorts of products and processes:  Diets, fasting, supplements, homeopathy, colonic irrigation, scrub brushes and foot baths are all referred to as detoxification. This review will focus on detox products that you’ll find at your local pharmacy: the seven- to thirty-day kits promising a whole new you. To evaluate the value of these detox kits, we need to understand the science of toxins, the nature of toxicity, and how detox kits remove toxins. With this framework, it’s a simple matter to sort out fact from fiction. Continue reading