Canada’s best-selling cold and flu remedy, Cold FX, is too good to be true. The ginseng-based supplement claims to give your immune system an extra boost. It’s not cheap either: about $70 for 168 capsules – of which you’re recommended to take two per day.

What does the science say?

There is no evidence to support their claim that Cold FX is capable of stopping a cold in its tracks, nor can it reduce the severity or duration of a cold. Also, Health Canada says that Cold FX never received approval to put “immediate relief” of cold and flu symptoms on their products.

Nevertheless, there is evidence to support Cold FX’s third claim: that it can reduce the frequency of a cold, but there is a catch.

You would have to take Cold FX for 17 cold and flu seasons to prevent 1 cold. That’s hundreds, may even thousands of dollars to prevent 1 cold.

Is it really “Proudly Canadian”?

Here’s a dirty little secret about the “Proudly Canadian” label slapped on the bottles. Cold FX is not Canadian at all. The ginseng powder is manufactured in China and shipped to Canada for capsuling and bottling.

One year, Cold FX tried to manufacture a liquid version of the product, but when it arrived in Canada for bottling, it was contaminated with the bacteria, enterococcus faecium. They lost 375,000 bottles that year. The company also tested other forms of Cold FX and when they failed, they were quarantined and not distributed to the public.

So, not only does Cold FX not prevent you from getting sick and not make your cold more bearable, it may actually do the opposite.

Watch CBC’s Marketplace episode 

Read the article in the Globe and Mail

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