Last winter, I had more than my normal share of sick days. This year, I’ve managed to stay healthier (knock on wood), but during my series of colds in 2006-07, I received many recommendations at work for Airborne, a product designed by a teacher. The concept didn’t make much sense to me. Yes, teachers, particularly elementary school teachers, have increased exposure to germs through their students, but most teachers aren’t trained in nutrition and medicine.
The product contains 100% of the daily recommended value of Vitamins A and E, and 1667% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C. Prolonged excess Vitamin C intake will result in that nutrient simply being expelled through waste, and it’s likely that serious health risks can result. Airborne mixes these vitamins with some herbal extracts.
Taking Airborne didn’t have any measurable effect on my condition, and it turns out, the initial clinical trial for the product wasn’t much of a scientific experiment like one would expect for a drug-like product. Airborne claimed to “boost your immune system to help your body combat germs” and instructed users to “take it at the first sign of a cold symptom or before entering crowded, potentially germ-infested environments.”
As I would have expected, there is no proof that Airborne assists the health of an individual beyond the effect of a placebo. Airborne has been sued for false advertising. Today, the company has agreed to settle the lawsuit and pay $23.3 million.
Update: Here’s how to receive your portion of the class action settlement if you’re a qualifying customer.
Airborne Agrees to Pay $23.3 Million to Settle Lawsuit Over False Advertising of its “Miracle Cold Buster”
Nutrition Fact Sheet: Vitamin C
Updated August 9, 2011 and originally published March 3, 2008.