Health products have empty claims

John Stillwell/PA

If you rush out to buy medicine at the first hint of a sniffle or sore throat, new research from Which? could make you think twice.

Popular health remedies from high street chemists lack true evidence in curing common ailments and some include a huge amount of sugar, a study by the consumer group has found.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
Labels on health products promise all sorts of wonder cures, but the investigation found very few products have robust evidence to back up these claims.

Which? is concerned that consumers are being misled and urged companies to be honest about what these often expensive products can actually do, particularly when it comes to important issues like health.

Cough cures
Popular cough remedies such as Benylin Tickly Coughs and Benylin Chesty Coughs (both Non-Drowsy) and Covonia Herbal Mucus Cough Syrup were found to have 'no robust evidence' that they do what it says on the bottle.

Which? reports that Boots declined to send the evidence for its Cold and Flu Relief tablets, as did the manufacturer of Adios slimming pills and Benylin for cough medicines.

Empty claims
The consumer group concluded the study with a list of health products you do not need (below). It includes Seven Seas Jointcare Be Active tablets, which use the claim "Keep really active with this everyday plan to look after your joints."

While they were found to contain proven ingredients for protecting aging joints, the amounts are "well below effective levels."

Bach's Rescue Remedy Spray claims to help de-stress but experts highlighted research showing it to be no more or less effective than a placebo.

Similarly Bio-oil, which claims to improve the appearance of scars, was found to be no more effective than massaging with other moisturising lotions.

Sugar overdose
The investigation also found that certain remedies contain huge amounts of sugar, which can actually be detrimental to health. Benylin Tickly Cough for example, contains glycerol and liquid sugar as the active ingredients, in addition to other sugars.

Which? states that the content equals 1.5 teaspoons of sugar per 10ml dose. If an adult took this medicine at maximum dose for a week, it would be the equivalent of the sugar in five Mars bars.

Greater transparency
The manufacturers of the products examined by Which? said that they all met the standards of the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which requires evidence to demonstrate they work.

However, the consumer group is calling on companies to be more transparent, so consumers can examine claims and make a truly informed decision.

In the meantime, avoid wasting money on potentially useless remedies by seeking advice from direct from pharmacists or your GP.

Top health products you don't need
  • Adios
  • Bio-oil
  • Benylin Chesty Coughs
  • Boots Cold&Flu relief
  • Covonia Herbal Mucas Cough Syrup
  • Seven Seas Jointcare
  • Nuromol
  • Bach's Rescue Remedy
  • Benylin Tickly Coughs
Source: Which?

10 biggest companies in the world
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Health products have empty claims

Wal-Mart Stores, or Walmart, is an American retailer that runs chains of discount department and warehouse stores around the world.

The company was founded by Sam Walton in 1962, incorporated on October 31, 1969, and first traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 1972. It is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas and has around 8,500 stores in 15 countries, under 55 different names.

Royal Dutch Shell, more commonly known as Shell, is a global oil and gas company headquartered in Holland, but with its registered office in London.

With operations in more than 90 countries, it is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

Exxon Mobil Corporation, or ExxonMobil, is an American oil and gas corporation formed on November 30, 1999, by the merger of Exxon and Mobil. Its headquarters are in Irving, Texas.

With 37 oil refineries in 21 countries, Exxon Mobil Corporation is the largest refiner in the world.

BP is yet another global oil and gas company, this time headquartered in London. It has operations in more than 80 countries, produces about 3.8 million barrels of oil per day and has 22,400 service stations worldwide.

The name BP is derived from the initials of one of the company's former legal names, British Petroleum.

Sinopec Group is one of the major petroleum companies in China, headquartered in Beijing.

Its business includes oil and gas exploration as well as the production and sales of petrochemicals and chemical fibres.

China National Petroleum Corporation is a state-owned fuel-producing corporation and the largest integrated oil and gas company in China. It has its headquarters in Beijing.

CNPC - the parent company of PetroChina - was created in 17 September 1988 when the government decided to disband the Ministry of Petroleum and create a state owned company to handle all Petroleum activities in China.

State Grid Corporation of China is the largest electric power transmission and distribution company in China, once again headquartered in Beijing.

It has subsidiaries in Northern China, Northeastern China, Eastern China, Middle China and Northwestern China.

Toyota Motor Corporation, more commonly known simply as Toyota, is a multinational automaker headquartered in Toyota, Japan.

The company was founded by Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937 as a spinoff from his father's company Toyota Industries. Its brands include Toyota, Lexus and Daihatsu.

Japan Post Holdings is a state-owned Japanese company that deals with mail delivery and financial services.

It is headquartered in Tokyo and was founded on January 23, 2006.

Chevron Corporation is an American energy company headquartered in San Ramon, California.

It is active in more than 180 countries and is engaged in every aspect of the oil, gas, and geothermal energy industries, including exploration and production, and power generation.


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