Dec 12, 2007

Don't Settle For Off-brand Quackery

While I was at the pharmacy this week, I noticed a product called Walborne, which I recognized as a knockoff of the product Airborne. Airborne, you may recall, is a quasi-medical product which claims to relieve or even prevent the common cold. It was developed by a second-grade teacher. Unless memory fails me, most of our medical pioneers are doctors and scientists, and noticeably absent are second-grade teachers. Why anyone would buy a product that admits that it was developed by a second-grade teacher mystifies me. What if it was developed by a janitor or bus driver? The pitch for the second-grade teacher angle is that no one knows colds like a second-grade teacher. This is roughly the same as buying a line of beauty supplies from Quasimodo, because no one knows ugly like Quasimodo. When I got home I was watching a television program and I saw a commercial for Airborne in which a cartoon caricature of the teacher/inventor warned us not to fall for Fakeborne, but stick with the real thing. The real thing? This cracks me up because there isn't a single bit of scientific evidence that Airborne does anything. Airborne and products like it, escape government scrutiny because of a Congressional exemption for "health aids". So long as products like Airborne put that they are not medicine and don't cure anything on their packaging, they are free from the normal testing we expect of medicines. The proof offered of Airborne's efficacy is largely testimonials, which we all know isn't proof. In 1900 the life expectancy at birth in America was 47.3 years. By 2004 it had increased to 77.4 years based largely on improved sanitation and improvements in scientifically-based medicine. The use of natural products is not a factor. In fact, in 1900 the use of natural remedies was far more pervasive than it is now. Airborne also uses a combination of the stuff found in your One-A-Day multivitamins plus some largely untested Chinese herbs. Chinese herbs have been used for thousands of years in China as treatment for illnesses and to promote wellness. Until the middle of the 20th century and the arrival of Western medicine to China, the life expectancy in China had remained at forty-years for centuries. So much for secret Chinese remedies. But I do have to give the Airborne people credit for tapping into the vast pool of gullibility out there. Things in this blog represented to be fact, may or may not actually be true. The writer is frequently wrong, sometimes just full of it, but always judgmental and cranky


Kurt said...

I'm sticking with my flax seed oil anyway.

d. chedwick bryant said...


Julia said...

I bought some Airborne for my last flight. I always catch a cold after flying. (Ha, I say that like I fly frequently.) I distributed it to everyone in my group and and 7 of us avoided sickness after two flights. I'm aware we might have been fine without it, but I thought it would be fun to irritate you with my testimonial.

d. chedwick bryant said...'re saying Quakers may be frauds?

Steve said...

I've never bought Airborne. In fact, my mission in life is to steer clear of pills, with the exception of an occasional aspirin.

Speaking of which, I hope that nerve pain is getting better. (Sometimes we DO have to take pills, regardless of personal goals!)