Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Airborne Cold Remedy: Helpful, Dangerous, or Both?

I've recommended Airborne Formula on this blog before, so I thought I'd share my recent research about it.

Using Airborne as directed on the label can result in a potentially serious overdose of several substances.

[Updated 13 Jan 2006 at bottom of post--look for the **** asterisks.]


Airborne is a combination of vitamins and herbs intended to prevent and shorten the duration of common illnesses like colds and flus. It's become amazingly popular in a short period of time--to the extent that stores often have trouble keeping it on the shelves.

The airborne website can be found at http://www.airbornehealth.com/ (Warning, annoying noise on the homepage, so if you're at work turn off your speakers.)

Anecdotal evidence as well as my own experience seems to suggest that, if taken at the first sign of illness, it does work. Even Oprah is talking about it.

Generic versions are now appearing on the market with the same ingredients in different packaging. One example is Health Smart dietary supplement, which is in swallowable capsules instead of Airborne's effervescent dissolve-in-water tablets.

This particular supplement is unusual in that it was not developed by a pharmaceutical company or a dietary supplement manufacturer. It was invented by a second-grade schoolteacher who was tired of catching illnesses from her young students.

When my friend the doctor was here, I showed her a bottle. She mentioned that it has a full day's dose of Vitamin A in one tablet and recommended caution in using it for that reason. The issue with this is that an excess of vitamin A can cause liver damage and other serious problems, including--in severe cases--death.

The instructions on the bottle say "repeat every three hours as necessary."

Well, every three hours could result in as many as 8 doses in a 24-hour period. There's no warning on the Airborne packaging not to exceed a certain number of doses in any specific time frame. But 8 doses of Airborne would give you eight times the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A--and would be at least 4 times the amount to start causing damage.

Multiply that by a week or so (the duration of a cold?) and it would result in a colossal overdose of Vitamin A.

So I started wondering whether taking it as directed would lead to an overdose of other vitamins as well.

I worked up a spreadsheet comparing the amounts of the various vitamins and minerals with the recommended daily amounts and the amount of overdose required to cause ill effects.

My figures compare the current recommended Daily Values (the newer version of the RDAs) with the amount present in one and eight doses of Airborne, respectively. I also included for comparison the UL for each nutrient. UL stands for Upper Limit--it is the FDA's figure of the maximum amount that can be consumed per day without hurting a person.

Here are the column headers:
1: Nutrient name
2: Amount in 1 dose of Airborne
3: Unit of Measure
4: % of DV in 1 Dose Airborne
5: DV (U.S. recommended daily value based on a 2,000 calorie diet)
6: UL (Upper limit that can be taken without ill effects)
7: Amount in 8 doses Airborne

Here is the table as a .gif file. Click the image to see it full size.

As you can see, the amounts of several nutrients reach or exceed the UL with only 2 doses of Airborne. 8 doses exceeds the UL for at least 4 different nutrients. There is no established UL for several of the nutrients, but this does not mean that excesses cannot be harmful. For instance, an excess of one B vitamin can cause symptoms of deficiency of the other B vitamins. A severe potassium overdose can result in heart and muscle problems, among other things.

Here are some of the symptoms of overdose for the 4 nutrients which would be in excess:

Vitamin A:
What are the health risks of too much vitamin A?
Hypervitaminosis A refers to high storage levels of vitamin A in the body that can lead to toxic symptoms. There are four major adverse effects of hypervitaminosis A: birth defects, liver abnormalities, reduced bone mineral density that may result in osteoporosis (see previous section), and central-nervous-system disorders [1,48-49].

Toxic symptoms can also arise after consuming very-large amounts of preformed vitamin A over a short period of time. Signs of acute toxicity include nausea and vomiting, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, and muscular uncoordination [1,48-49]. Although hypervitaminosis A can occur when large amounts of liver are regularly consumed, most cases result from taking excess amounts of the nutrient in supplements.

Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is one of the safest supplements you can take. The main symptom of overdose is diarrhea, but it can cause other problems in very large amounts. (i.e. a gram-sized dose).

The critical adverse effects are elevated blood magnesium concentration and neurotoxicity.

Signs of excess magnesium can be similar to magnesium deficiency and include changes in mental status, nausea, diarrhea, appetite loss, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, extremely low blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat [5,57-60].)

The critical adverse effect is the influence of excess zinc on copper metabolism. Other effects include epigastric pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headaches, and immune response impairment.

Most of this information about various nutrients is from government sources: two excellent ones are the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition website and the National Institute of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements website (be sure to check out their Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets). These sites deal with everything from herbs and nutritional supplements to dietary recommendations, and there's a lot of interesting information there. There's also a great site at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with various articles, including this one: Upper Safe Levels of Intake for Adults: Vitamins, Macrominerals, and Trace Minerals.

Please also note that, while the Airborne package says it contains 350 MG of a blend of other substances, mostly herbs (Maltodextrin, Lonicera, Forsythia, Schizonepeta, Ginger, Chinese Vitex, Isatis Root, Echinacea), it does not give amounts for the individual herbs. So you don't really know how much you are getting. It is worth mentioning that most sources agree that Echinacea should not be taken daily over a long period of time, so that would be something to be careful of also.

I haven't stopped using Airborne completely, but I have become much more cautious about it. I'll take it if I feel a cold coming on, but only one dose per day on a very occasional basis. I'm also very careful what other vitamins and supplements I take along with it.

If you do use Airborne, I would recommend checking any other supplements you are taking and limiting your doses so that you are not exceeding the ULs for the various nutrients.


[Update:] I wrote a note to the Airborne company about these concerns, and received this e-mail in reply:

Thank you for your inquiry. Take Airborne at the first sign of a cold symptom or a day or two before entering crowded places like airplanes, movie theatres or offices. People use it as a preventative, and some take it daily. Plop an Airborne tablet into a glass of water, let it effervesce, and drink up!

The recommended dosage for Airborne is every 3 hours or as needed, not to exceed 5 doses in a day. Discontinue use when cold symptoms subside.

Airborne is meant to be taken in short duration. If used properly there is no concern of the higher dose vitamins. For further guidance, please consult with your family physician.

Have a great day and stay healthy!

I scoured every bit of the packaging my bottle of Airborne came in, the package itself, and the Airborne website. I could find absolutely no information saying anything remotely similar to "not to exceed 5 doses in a day. Discontinue use when cold symptoms subside." or "Airborne is meant to be taken in short duration." Wouldn't that be rather important information to put on the packaging and website? Also, those statements seem directly contradictory to the earlier statement in the letter that "people use it as a preventative, and some take it daily."

The only warning I can find on the package and the website is this: "As with all dietary supplements, pregnant women or people on medication should consult physician before taking."

The generic version I bought (with exactly the same ingredients) had a warning not to take the product if you have kidney disease, but the Airborne packaging does not share this caution. The reason for the caution, I'm told by a doctor, is that several of the listed nutrients are eliminated by the kidneys and could easily build up to toxic levels if these organs are not working properly. The threshold for permament damage with Vitamin A is much lower in patients with renal failure.

Vitamins and herbs can be contraindicated if you have certain conditions or if you are taking other drugs that can cause interactions. That's just one more thing to be aware of.

Here's the Airborne analysis table reworked with 5 doses instead of 8 doses in the last column. As you can see, 5 doses still meets or exceeds the UL for all four of the nutrients mentioned earlier.

Airborne, Inc. publicizes a double-blind placebo clinical trial that they funded, saying that there were no adverse affects noted. I'm trying to find more information about this trial, conducted by a GNG Pharmaceutical company.

So far I've found information that the participants took Airborne for 5 days, but nothing saying how much they took. We also don't know if tests were run to check kidney and liver function, etc. or if they just went by externally observable signs to determine adverse effects.

Again, I'm not saying that everyone should stop taking Airborne. But I would be cautious about taking it more than once a day or taking it over an extended period of time.

The bottom line is this: Vitamins and herbal supplements don't have to meet safety and efficacy requirements like drugs do. But being made of vitamins and herbs doesn't make a supplement safe. You can't trust the ingredient levels or the dosage instructions to be safe, either. It's always best to check things out for yourself, and it's usually a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking a supplement.

****Update 2007: By early 2007, about a year after this post was written, the company did start printing a warning not to exceed 3 doses per day on the packaging. The package also now contains a warning not to take the product if pregnant or nursing.****

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Blogger ccw said...

Very interesting.

I have never used Airborne, but I saw it at Trader Joe's last week adn started to buy a box since everyone swears it works. Now, I have something to consdier before buying it for us.

6:24 AM  
Blogger liz said...

Thank you for this info!!!

(Stupid trivia fact:
The livers of certain animals also contain toxic levels of Vitamin A (polar bears being one example) so if you're lost in the arctic and need to eat a polar bear, don't eat its liver.)

7:50 AM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

I'm glad if the information is helpful. :)

Liz, I didn't know that until I was researching vitamin A overdose for this. Some explorers died from eating sled dog liver when they got lost, too!

9:30 AM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

Wow! Thanks for this, PK!

I am shocked at this information, especially because we definitely take Airborne liberally in my house. This is very scary! I'll be sure to be more careful from now on.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Great post, PK.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

It certainly pays to be cautious.

I did notice that Vitamin A has "LOAEL = 14,000 mcg, except for women of childbearing age, NOAEL= 3,000 mcg". Clearly, you should choose the lower, but the difference is huge, and it makes me somewhat curious how they establish NOAEL.

There have been times when I've eaten a lot of liver (some raw) throughout a week, without ill effects, so, I'm surprised that people died from that. It makes me wonder if there weren't complicating factors.

I also wonder if we use up our stores of nutrients faster when we are sick, so the levels which apply to a normal person might not apply to a sick person. Similarly, I imagine that certain nutrients should be balanced against one another, making their combined effects rather different (and perhaps safer) than an isolated overdose of just one.

In any case, it makes sense to me to use the lowest effective dosage. If we had an ideal diet, environment, etc., I imagine we wouldn't need any supplements.

1:12 PM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

Thanks, HW, PS, and Kevin, for your comments.

Kevin, you raise some good questions. NOAEL = no observed adverse effects level
LOAEL = lowest observed adverse effect level. It does seem that they should be closer. I'll have to look at that more.

I do know that there are different forms of Vitamin A. It's much easier to overdose on retinol (preformed Vitamin A of the type found in supplements) than it is to overdose on Vitamin A from food sources.

You may be familiar with the acne medication Accutane, which is seriously associated with birth defects and should never be taken by a woman who may become pregnant. It's made of another form of Vitamin A.

There's a much lower threshold of possible damage for patients with renal failure and pregnant women than for other people with vitamin A overdose; apparently dosages as little as 12,000 IU have been associated with birth defects and/or liver damage in these populations.

Regarding the liver consumption issue: different types of liver have completely different levels of vitamin A. For instance, 3 oz. of beef liver has 27,185 IUs of Vitamin A while 3 oz. of chicken liver has only 12,325 IUs. According to Wikipedia, the livers of polar bears and sled dogs contain enough Vitamin A to kill someone.

When we're looking at an effect like long-term progressive liver damage, would you necessarily be able to tell right away whether the amount of vitamin A you were consuming was doing damage or not? Effects like liver damage and birth defects don't necessarily happen immediately or in a way you can feel right away, do they?

2:36 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Hmmm, good to know. I've never taken Airborn more than once a day and ussually only every week or month... Now I know that's the right way to take it! ;-)

Ooo, just a note... I have heard that the body needs more vitamins when sick than when not sick.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

You make good points. Sadly, I do not know enough to argue the point with any authority, but I'll give you what I've briefly found on the net (whose veracity could certainly be questioned).

Upon learning these facts, I began to take relatively high doses of vitamin A supplements (100,000 IU) in the fish oil form and I soon experienced a dramatic improvement in my health, including healing of long standing gastrointestinal problems. I came to realize that malnutrition from the doctor's initial dietary recommendations was more than likely a very significant contributing factor to my bleeding and ultimate hysterectomy.

All forms of active vitamin A both fat- and water-soluble are stored in the liver. This supplement can, therefore, be toxic in large amounts. In general, a normal healthy adult must take at least 100,000 IU of vitamin A daily for a period of months in order to display any signs of toxicity. Early signs of toxicity are fatigue, nausea, vomiting, headache, vertigo, blurred vision, muscular incoordination, and loss of body hair. Although all of these symptoms are reversible when vitamin A supplementation is stopped, I would not recommend this dose unless you are under professional guidance.

Beta-carotene, on the other hand, can be given for long periods of time virtually without risk of toxicity.

Cases of liver/vitamin A toxicity often involve alcoholics and others who have liver disease. Vitamin A toxicity is completely reversible. The US FDA has only chosen to warn doctors and consumers of the potential for vitamin A overdose without a balanced reporting on vitamin A deficiencies. The only reported case of mortality from vitamin A toxicity involved a hunter in Canada who consumed bear liver, which provided over 1 million units of vitamin A. There is concern over birth defects with high-dose vitamin A supplementation, but conflicting studies are still a puzzlement.

Be careful if you in the unlikely event run across polar bear on a menu - 500 gram (about ½ a pound) of polar bear liver will deliver about 9,000,000 IU to your diet - a very lethal dose.
When more may be required
More of this vitamin is required when you consume alcohol, on a low-fat diet, or a diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, if you smoke or live in a polluted area. It may also be indicated if you suffer from diabetes or have an under-active thyroid gland. Be careful of vitamin A in pregnancy.

Enemy of vitamin A
Retinol is destroyed by light, high temperatures as well as when using copper or iron cooking utensils. Beta-carotene rich vegetables and fruit must not be soaked in water for long periods, since the nutrients can be lost like that.

Vitamin A gets destroyed at about 40 degrees Celsius [104 degrees Fahrenheit], hence these foods [carrots, spinach, milk, eggs] must be consumed raw in order to avail maximum benefit.

In Rothman's retrospective study, women were queried about their eating and vitamin supplement habits before becoming pregnant and during the first three months of pregnancy. After delivery, either the women or their physicians completed a questionnaire about the health of the baby.

A very low fat diet or use of fat substitutes impairs absorption of all the fat-soluble vitamins, including A. Mineral oil and aluminum-containing antacids may also inhibit absorption, as do the cholesterol-lowering drugs cholestyramine and colestipol. Vitamin A reserves of the body are depleted by a number of substances, including alcohol, barbiturates, caffeine, cortisone, tobacco, and very high levels of vitamin E. Overuse of alcohol and vitamin A together may increase the possibility of liver damage.

Taking appropriate doses of vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium optimizes absorption and use of vitamin A and carotenoids. As vitamin A is fat-soluble, a small amount of dietary fat is also helpful.

So, in most cases, and particularly during pregnancy, it seems that beta carotene (from vegetables) would be better as long as your body (thyroid?) can convert it.

3:01 PM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

Kevin, thanks for the interesting information. From what I've been reading, it is much, much harder to overdose on Vitamin A from dietary intake, or supplements like beta carotene and fish oil, than with preformed (synthetic?) vitamin A such as that found in many vitamins and supplements.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

That agrees with what I've been reading. As I understand it, (preformed) VitA comes from meat sources, while (beta?) carotenes come from vegetable sources.

I believe beta-carotene is water soluble, so your body just flushes out excess in the urine. If you're healthy enough, your body should perform the conversion to (preformed) VitA as it needs it.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought this may be the case when I saw the high dosage of Vitamin A. Thanks so much for posting this. Shy Cynderella

5:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your blog when I Googled
"Take Airborne!" research

I'm glad I stumbled onto you. I take Take Airborne! on a fairly daily basis. (I'm a school teacher.) This post and all of your commenters have been SUPER HELPFUL and I'm grateful you posted it.


8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Kat. i am addicted to airborne please please help me. i NEED it bye gotta go take my airborne

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No where on the package does it say if you are NURSING a child to avoid taking airborne. I am a mother who is nursing an 8 month old infant. I work with first grade students and did not want to catch every cold they brought into the classroom, so when I looked at the Airborne Package and asked the Pharmacist at the store, it seemed to be pretty harmless. Although Airborne worked to keep the cold away, my child's head measurement between her 6 month check up to her 8 month check up alarmed her doctor. We are going for an ultrasound in a couple of weeks. The head measurement increased dramatically during the time frame that I was taking the Airborne, along with my prenatal vitamin! I was clearly overdosing my infant child through my breatmilk! I hope that my baby is not severely affected by what seemed to be a better alternative to relieve the symptoms of a cold. My complaint is why don't these people do more research about the products they put on the market? How many other nursing mothers have taken or are currently using Airborne or its generic form to cure a cold? Do they know the health risks involved for their infant, or are they finding out the hard way?

8:35 AM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

I'm so glad this post is helpful to people. It's definitely become my most popular post, judging by the number of hits it gets.

Anonymous, I really hope you'll come back and update us when you find out what's going on with your baby. I hope she'll be okay!

2:17 AM  
Anonymous Kate said...

Interesting post indeed, I'm researching trying to figure out if it is safe enough for my kid who picks up a lot of bugs at childcare.

Anywho, I found this page http://home.caregroup.org/clinical/altmed/interactions/Nutrients/Vitamin_A.htm with a lot of information about Vitamin A, including the note that "Vitamin C can help prevent effects of vitamin A toxicity.". So perhaps they are counting on the high amount of C to offset any negative effects from A.

From the caregroup page it seems that reactions to vitamin A vary greatly from person to person, hence the wide range from No Observable Effects to Lowest Observable Adverse Effects. Generally it seems that the high doses (not mega high doses) need to continue for months to produce negative effects.

Anyway KUDOS to you for doing research. The more you read the more you know!

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Cyndie said...

Thank you for doing this research for us. I just started taking Airborne two weeks ago when I started getting a cold but have been quite liberal in taking it. I will be more cautious with how often I take it now.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this info! A friend and I were just speculating on the possibilities of ODing on Airborne.

I was hoping to clear up some of the vitamin A confusion. There are two ways to get vitamin A from the diet: generally, you get it in one form from animals (ester form) and another form from plants (carotene form). The ester form is more toxic. We store it vitamin A as an ester in our liver where an excess can cause damage. On the other hand, carotenes are converted into vitamin A only when we need it and so are less toxic.

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Again,

This is the anonymous nursing mother. Apparently, I was taking enough of the Air Bourne to begin seeing side effects of an overdose of Vitamin A. My skin was extremely itchy around my mouth and hands. I didn't think much of it at the time because a co-worker had poison oak, so I blamed him for coming in to work with the infection. However, a poison oak infection it was not!

When I read the side of effects of the overdose of Vitamin A, I was experiencing more than just itchy skin, it was vision problems, loss of appetite, and fatigue. None of which I was concerned about. What caught my attention was my daughter's head measurement and her doctor's concern. Apparently the measurement was so abnormal we are scheduled for an ultrasound. Pretty scary stuff for taking a "vitamin" cold remedy that seemed harmless. Remember, no where on the package does it WARN people of an overdose potential or advise nursing mothers to consult a physician before taking!

My mother just informed me the other day, that the local news reported that Air Bourne was pulled from store shelves! She did not hear the whole story and could not remember which newscast it was. Has anyone else heard about this?

I would advise anyone thinking about giving this supplement to children, they make a quick call to their child's doctor beforehand.

Thanks, Anonymous Nursing Mother

12:59 PM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

Thanks for the comments and info, everyone. Lots of people are still finding this post through search engines, so any information shared will be helpful to many.

Anonymous nursing mother, I really hope your baby is OK. Please let me know if doctors determine a clear link between the issues you're dealing with and Airborne. Have you considered writing a letter to the Airborne company?

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Dawn said...

I took Airborne for the first time about two weeks ago. Because there were no warnings on the limit I should take per day, I took it every three hours for my waking hours - like 5 times a day for like 4-5 days. About a week or so later, I came down with some weird stomach problem which my doctor couldn't figure out (not viral nor bacterial). When the Dr said she wanted to check my liver (because it sounded like it could be liver damage), we decided that wasn't necessary because I just had blood tests that included a liver check about 2 months ago - tests came back normal. Today I remembered that somebody told me about Airborne and possible liver damage or other toxicity. Since I am still having the stomach problems, although better, I am going to go back to my doctor with this information (that I had taken Airborne prior to getting these stomach sympstoms) and get my liver checked. Pretty scary!

11:10 AM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

Wow, Dawn! I hope you'll come back and let us know how the tests come back. I really hope it didn't damage your liver!

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for providing information about Airborne. I think everyone should consider their own body and reaction to megadoses of vitamins and herbs. I made the mistake of taking Airborne to ward off cold symptoms and came down with severe stomach pains, headache and distention. My husband said it was probably the Airborne, and I started looking for information about it, and reactions. Thankfully I found your site. I am taking prescription estrogen and didn't realize that megadoses of vitamin C could enhance blood levels of estrogen in the body. One dose of Airborne has 1633% of the RDA of Vitamin C. I took it for several days..more than 2000mg. of Vitamin C can cause toxicity. I took over 4000mg.in just 2 days. That's just the reaction to the Vitamin C..manganese supplies 40mg. in just one dose..(a normal dose is 1.3mg. a day)..Just because a product has "natural" herbs and vitamins doesn't mean it is good for you. Thanks for providing this site...I think people really have to do their homework before injesting ANYTHING natural or not. Some people will have an adverse reaction, while others may not....I am still feeling ill.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UL stands for Upper level, not upper limit. Upper levels are established based on a exposure vs. risk model (the higher the exposure, the higher is the risk), therefore the need to make clear the distinction limit vs. level.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I am so glad to have found your comments on this stuff.
Folks, I took it like you, I'm a teacher and I wanted to ward off the symptoms of a cold coming on from all my kids coming in sick.
I took it, the cold symptoms subsided very well, but then, the next day I woke up with itching from the neck down that was enough to make you jump off a cliff.
I have been taking asthma medication for the past six months and it's changed my life because I can finally live cough free. I don't seem to need anything else, no allergy medication or anything, but as the cold seemed strong I gave in and took this stuff. I took the massive doses too, twice before I slept that night.

So, I had to go get Benadryl and it did NOT make a dent in the itching. My skin wasn't raised, but just itching all over.

I went to the doctor's today and they said that it may be the echnicea. My web searches have revealed that this may be contraindicated for allergy and asthma sufferers. Duhhh, boy do I feel dumb!

So beware, I'm taking Aveena baths with oatmeal and slathering on their lotion now. HOpefully it will subside soon.


7:19 PM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

It's interesting to hear how this has affected various people; thanks for posting your comments. They add helpful information that I'm sure make this post a better resource for others.

The terms Upper Limit and Upper Level seem to be used fairly interchangably in the literature; basically the idea is that the UL is the highest amount that has been consumed without ill effects in studies.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's hard to believe how careless and gullible we can be. I was just coming down with a sore throat and congestion and somebody recommended and raved about 'Airborne,' which I hadn't heard of previously. A look at a few stores showed it to be a popular product, so I bought it.
I began taking it as soon as I got home, but was uncomfortable with the prospect of taking 5-6 grams of vit. C plus large amounts of A and unknown amounts of minerals and herbs daily. The absence of any significant warnings on the package seemed strange under these circumstances.
I hate to be a party pooper, but I do have the feeling that this is another fraud foisted on a gullible public easily swayed by the remedy du jour, clever and sometimes misleading marketing, weak and unverified anecdotal evidence and the power of Ophrah (nothing against Ophrah, but she's been fooled before).

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You people are a bunch of hypochondriacs.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure whether this post is still up and running but am sure glad I have found it!
I was just about to start taking airborne when i decided it might pay to do some research first. Do you think it would be ok to take airborne once a day or even every second day for a week whilst ill etc? I really need to find something that will reduce my susceptibility to colds and flus as i am always suffering. What would be the safest way to take it? Is there anything else on the market?

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Echiniea is dangerous to those with weed/pollen allergy!

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous Nursing Mother:
Thank you so much for sharing what happened when you took Airborne. I am just starting to get a cold and was thinking about buying some Airborne, but I wanted to look around and make sure it was safe to take while nursing my 4 month old. I definitely won't be risking it now. I hope everything is ok with your baby.

3:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been taking the generic version (no sugar) for months. However, I only use one dose a day and I limit it to only when going on a plane, or feeling a cold coming on. After reading the vitamin dosage, that was the only way to take it that made sense. Thanks for all your research, but it seems I have been safe all along! I will continue to use it... it sure works!

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made the mistake of taking airborne on an empty stomach with only my usual multi-vitamin one morning. About and hour later, I started my usual routine at work and noticed that the center of my vision started to blur. It got worse and worse. It was so bad that I could not do any work (because my work requires proper vision). I walked around for a while and drank several cups of tea and it peaked and then finally went away in about 45min- hour. This is the first experience I have ever had like this. I have been researching the issue and attribute it -possibly- to a vitamin
A overdose. Probably the multi-vitamin mixed with the Airborne tablet.

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This information all seems pertinent, and I'm so sorry for the nursing mothers that feel that they may have put their babies at undue risk, however, I have used Airborne and generic Airborne, several times with no side effects at all; for that matter, i don't even know if I'm convinced that it works or does anything, but i have also never taken it more than twice in a single day.....

11:50 PM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments . . . please keep them coming.

To the person who was wondering how often it's safe to take Airborne: it would be best to discuss that with your doctor. There are so many variables that can come into play; allergies, the amounts of vitamins in any other supplements and foods you're already consuming, the state of your liver and kidneys, etc.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took two tubes of airborne over a period of two weeks. It wasn't continuous usage, I had two seperate colds. A few days after I finished my second tube, I I developed kidney stones which I believe was from taking the airborne.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to dismiss people's true concerns and, in some cases, reactions to misuse of this supplement, but I think they sell it assuming people have a brain in their heads. The instructions say to take it to prevent colds when about to enter a high-risk environment, or to take it at the first sign of cold and then every three hours. They assume that if you're not over your cold in a week or two you are smart enough to go see the doctor. As a reasonable person I assume every three hours means while you're awake, i.e., don't get up in the middle of the night to take this stuff as you would a prescription medication! So reasonably you'd be taking four doses a day maximum, for two weeks. I find it difficult to believe that this would cause an overdose of any of the ingredients. If you're taking it any more than that, you risk problems, as you would if you took alcohol more than four times a day for more than two weeks!

6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god...I thankfully only just bought Airborne today, and have only taken two doses of it. I have problems with my kidneys, and I hate to think that this could have killed me without even a warning.

Absolutely frightening. This is just another reason I'm so reluctant to take anything when I'm sick. D:

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this information. I have used airborne very effectively to prevent colds. I have always been very susceptable to them, and the occasional use of airborne (No more than 1 a day) has helped me avoid colds that I normally would have caught. I have not used airborne in addition to a multivitamin, because of the risk of overdose. Because of the use of Airborne I have noticed a decrease of appetite on the days that I take it. I have found a new product that seems to have promise that does not include any vitamin A, so theoreticaly should be safer. It also does not include any herbs. The product is Emer'gen-C
Good Luck to everyone.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very interesting...thank you for your excellent info and research. I work at a health club and everyone always comes in to 'work out to work off a cold' so its a petri dish of germs. Not everyone remembers to clean up the handles on the machines and no one cleans the free weight barbells. I find that airborne has been effective, but recently everyone was pretty sick so I got paranoid and took 3-4 doses a day for the past week. I complained to my roommate about vertigo/dizziness. Given all this info, I think too much Airborne is the culprit. Additionally, I take St. Johns Wort and I suspect that may not be a good mix. Lastly, the chinese herb may build in the system with extended doses...I say this b/c i dont know if anyone else has experienced this or not, but I was starting to get mild anxiety attacks. I believe it may be from too much ginsing and the chinese herb. At anyrate, I will limit my dose to once a day before work and balance it with plenty of water.Also, EmergenC is excellent as well. Oderless garlic supplement is excellent as an antibiotic and immune system builder, though, as always, do research and see if its right for your particular constitution.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is still the health club person...but I read through all the posts and Kevin was very helpful with all those links. Also, I really hope the nursing woman with her baby posts again...that post makes me exceptionally nervous...I also work p/t as a Labor Assistant and I know mothers who have children and are also nursing their infant... if this stuff is dangerous for nursing mothers that is very very important information for other mothers. I am worried for that woman and her child - I hope she updates us.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a link to an article put out by Scientific American magazine:
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=9389C0F4-E7F2-99DF-3BE657CAD1649375&sc=I100322 Pretty damning stuff.

My mom is a holistic freak; she'll take anything if it says "all natural" , "organic", or "used by real Tibetan Monks", so when she told me this stuff was awesome, I had to check it out.

And the above link is what I found. As you mentioned, no where on the packaging does it mention anything of the sort about taking it for a maximum of 5 dosed per day, or stop taking as soon as the cold symptoms subside.

Also, it should be noted, on their website the "research" that was posted has been pulled, and now shows an error 404 when attempting to access that link.


It's a big money market, to be sure, and it seems like their cashing in. Just remember, everyone... Just because something says it's good for you, or contributes to the rain forest preservation fund, or other, fuzzywuzzy, feel good stuffs: Doesn't mean a thing if it isn't true. I research anything I am going to take, before I take it. It's too easy these days not to.

My 2¢

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks alot!!ihave taken eight tablets in the last two days. I feel better,bh=ut i knew there had to be some precaution. It does not make sense to take anything every three hours.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe a study was done on the GNC Corporation basically stating that it consisted of two scientists, one who never made it through college, performing the "clinical trials." Glad I read this information, I will be making sure to limit myself to two doses a day!

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking at Airborne's website, I noticed some differences between what was written here and there.


"1. How do I take Airborne?
Take Airborne a day or two before entering crowded places like airplanes, movie theaters or offices. Plop an Airborne tablet into a glass of water let it dissolve and drink up! Repeat every 3-4 hours or as needed, not to exceed 3 doses in a day."

"6. Can Airborne be taken daily?
Many people do take one Airborne as a daily dietary supplement. However, as with all over-the-counter dietary supplements, we recommend that you consult with your pharmacist or family physician, because they know what is best for your health. Do not take a multi vitamin on the same days that you take Airborne."

"8. Can nursing mothers or pregnant women take Airborne?
Women who are pregnant and/or women breastfeeding should not take Airborne unless they have consulted a physician."

however, I am wary of any product with a high dose of vitamins, so I won't be testing this one!

1:15 PM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

Thanks for pointing that out! I'm very glad that sometime in the year since this post was written, they have decided to add some very sensible warnings to their website.

Does anyone know if the package itself has also been updated with the warnings? If so, I'll edit the original post to note that warnings have been added.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just checked the packaging for Wal-born, a Walgreens generic version of Airborne I bought a few weeks ago. The directions also say to take every three hours, but nowhere does it specify to limit to three doses. It does recommend that pregnant women and people on medication should consult a physician before taking.

Of course in fine print it says "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." It also contains 5000IU of vitamin A (100% Acetate).

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your posting - I have been a faithful Airborne user for years - matter of fact, my entire family took Airborne before getting on a plane to Orlando and my niece, the only one who did NOT take Airborne, was the only one of us who got sick. Anyway, on the new packaging (specifically the Pink Grapefruit flavor), it does say "not to exceed three doses in one day". I would suggest only using it twice - in my experience it can cause stomach upset if taken more than that.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information.
I just learned today about the excessive amounts of retinol in Airborne and about the side-effects that can be caused by excess retinol.

I spent most of December fighting a cold - flying around visiting people, etc. I keep a tube of Airborne at my desk and take one a day during the winter to help stave off any infections that my coworkers may bring in from their kids. When I'm feeling like I'm fighting something, or when I'm traveling a lot, I often take 4 or 5 tablets in a day (per the instructions). So in December I think it's fair to say that for a few weeks I probably averaged 4 airborne per day. At 5,000 units of retinol per tablet, that means I waaaaay exceeded the safe levels for a few weeks straight.

In January I was riding my bicycle, got caught in a train track, and fell over, subsequently breaking my hip.
Just so you know, I'm a 35 year old male and in good shape. I now have a titanium rod in my femur and a pin tying it to my hip joint and i'm on disability and crutches as I write this.
The doctor in charge of my case at the hospital simply refused to believe that someone my age could break this bone the way that I did. He ran every blood test in the book to try and show that there was an underlying problem, but everything came back negative.

End of story? Well I'm not big on coincidences and it still strikes me as really odd that I managed to just fall over and break my hip so badly. Even more interesting is my discovery today that excess levels of retinol over a period of time (even a short period) can block the cells in your body responsible for bone regeneration and lead to osteoperosis and other problems, including an increased risk of hip fractures.
So I may never know what really happened, but I do know that I'll never take more than one Airborne in a day again.

7:23 PM  
Anonymous ronabout said...

First off I want to commend you on your research and for sharing it.

When it comes to any mass produced remedy manufacturing companies never give a full disclosure. Although Airborne may not be 100% "safe" nothing is when you look closely at it.

Let us not forget the woman who died from drinking too much water, not so long ago, for a radio show contest. When I grew up I was told it was impossible to die from drinking too much water.

The real bad guys, to me, are all the companies who jumped on the band wagon to cash in on the Airborne phenomenon. If Airborne can be accused of not fully disclosing all possible side effects or health risks these copy cat companies display even less moral responsibility and show a complete lack of due diligence. If you are to write anyone to admonish I'd suggest you write them first.

Also remember that legitimate pharmaceutical companies have an extensive list of health risks and side effects when it comes to their drugs only because
1. It's been legislated
2. They kept loosing court battles for non-disclosure.

It takes people like you and me to hunt out the purple kangaroos out there who do take the time to fill us in. Or better yet, hunt down the information yourself and spread the word.

As for my colds I'm sticking to garlic, honey, lemon and ginger to help me get through mine.

When anybody makes a claim their product is good for you because it's natural just remember arsenic is natural too.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

That may be true - and frankly, I think Airborne is a great product... the company is still owned by the schoolteacher that invented it... and i have no desire to see good companies go under.

However - if the company knows there's a problem with consuming the quantity that they state on the package directions (which they obviously do given the fact that the FAQ on their website says to limit it to three per day) then it is gross negligence for them to not change the package directions to reflect that information.

As a consumer, you shouldn't be expected to have to go to a product's webpage to learn about the warnings and contraindications with the product.

Because they state on the package "Repeat every three hours as necessary", they are responsible for any harm that befalls consumers that follow the package directions!

And this isn't just gross negligence in regards to the fact that they aren't disclosing the correct dosage information... the dangers of excess retinol have been known for a long time. it took me two seconds on google to find hundreds of websites preaching all the dangers and complications from even short-term retinol toxicity, so certainly the makers of Airborne could have found the same information...

I'm all for the little guy, but honestly this is a class action suit waiting to happen.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a Mom who has been seeking out anything (healthy and safe of course) that will promote the health and well-being of my two young daughters (ages 3 and 1). They have been battling for the last several months, with back to back episodes of bronchitis and pnumonia resulting in ear infections and ultimately heavy antibiotic use. They do not attend daycare, I stay at home with them. I also have a four year old son who goes to preschool a few mornings a week and has had no problems whatsoever.

I am weary of the ongoing sickness and have been seeking out info on herbs etc. It seems to me the only way I can prevent the infections is to keep the colds away. As soon as they catch a little cold, it always quickly gets into their lungs and ears causing weeks of agony and antibiotics.

I suspect the reason my eldest daughter suffers from her colds so dramaticly is an allergy related issue. I was researching Airborne, as well as Echinacea, and was interested to find that people who suffer with allergies of any kind could be adversly affected by the use of Echinacea ( contained in Airborne).

I would suspect that many people who are plagued by "EXTREME COLDS" are probably allergy sufferers who, because of this,are more susceptible to bronchial infections. I believe that many people suffer with allergies and aren't really aware, assuming that they just catch colds easily. Just for the record, my daughters doctor is treating her for allergies to see if that makes a significant difference in her overall health. I almost started my daughter on Echinacea- and/or Airborne- Thank goodness for a little research. Allergy sufferers- be aware. Effects could be very bad.

By the way, does anyone know if Airborne has allergy warnings on their packaging??

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AirBorne tubes now read (as of February 2007 when I looked at my tube just now), "Repeat every three hours as necessary, up to three times per day."

It's been interesting reading all the controversy...but I think I'll keep taking AirBorne when I come down with colds. When they back off, I stop. No ill effects yet! You just have to be SMART.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an asthmatic that suffers from reoccurent sinus infections and pneumonia. I usually end up with a least 3 episodes of pneumonia per winter. I started taking Airborne one tablet in the morning with my breakfast and another just before bed this past December. I have been healthier this past winter than the last 5. Only one cold back in November before I started this routine. I have not had any side effects from it and will continue to take it thru the winter months. I will give it a break once the cold and flu season is over.

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use Airborne, and after reading your blog checked for myself. In my directions it says "repeat every 3-4 hours as necessary, no more than three times per day." Your post was written on the 10th of January, which is only a week before I purchased this package (I buy from costco in bulk) I can't imagine that they would change the packaging that quickly. If they did, I am grateful, or perhaps it is because I buy the large packages that there was more room for the warning.

9:11 PM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

Thanks, everyone. I checked at my local store and they weren't yet carrying the packaging with a warning, so it must be a fairly recent development.

Anonymous, this post was written January 2006, a year ago. Hopefully you bought your bottle of Airborne more recently than that. :)

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have just experienced 3 months of hell over unexpected elevated liver enzymes picked up during a routine physical. Dr. had me discontinue lipitor & alcohol for 3 weeks and instead of declining, the liver enzymes rose even higher. Fortunately a sonogram was negative; next step was possible liver biopsy or CT Scan or MRI. A blood test 3 weeks later resulted in the liver enzymes going down (though still not quite normal) No explanation. THEN I read the "caution" about Airborne in Nutrion Action Health Letter and had an "Aha" moment. I have been a real fan of Airborne & in the period before the initial bloodtest (in January) and the first retest (3 weeks later), I had been taking a LOT of Airborne -- for combatting intial cold symptoms & prior to taking flights to & from a vacation. I was a real Airborne fan and had had very positive results combatting my nascent colds. Though I can't necessarily proove that Airborne was the culprit in damaging my liver, it is hard to believe it wasn't! It simply isn't worth the risk! Be forewarned! My unused mega supply of Airborne from Costco is hitting the trash! Thanks for your outstanding research & blog. I hope it reaches others before more harm is done. Logo

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I resisted trying Airborne for a long time being skeptical about the claims.... until desperate to get well yesterday. Tried it last night and had a near miraculous improvement of cold/flu symptoms....almost immediate decrease of fever and other symptoms. Also feeling much better today. The box I have of Airborne "on the go", powder that can be put in water bottles, says not to exceed 3 doses in one day. As a health care professional (chiropractor) I'm not concerned about taking 3 times the amount of any of the ingredients in one dose of Airborne.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps from the chiropractor...my mother is currently in the hospital with pneumonia and/or asthmatic bronchitis suffering from the cascading iatragenic effects of one medication causing side effects that need to be treated by another medication etc....If she had taken Airborne she probably wouldn't have fibrillations from the "dangerous" but totally accepted treatments she's currently taking.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, It just seems to me that caution is always important with anything we ingest. Even too much water will kill a person.

I've used Airborne with superb results; I guess forgetting to take a lot in a day is my help. Usually 2-3 tablets in a day and I have no more cold or sinus symptoms, anyhow.

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The past couple years I started taking Airborne as soon as I came down with signs of cold/flu. I did feel like symtoms such as sore throat and a stuffy nose hadn't been as bad as in the past when I hadn't taken Airborn. As a result, I would go through 3 bottles of the Airborn, taking a tablet every threre hours until all threre bottles were gone. As a result, I have had lingering feelings of fatigue and feeling hot all over for several weeks. I didn't think Airborn could be the culprit unitl I realized that I never felt so fatigued and hot for so long following pneumonia, or the cold and flus I have had the past couple years since taking mega doses of Airborn. Anyone know if lingering feelings of fatigue or feeling hot all over the body lasting for 2-4 weeks can be side effects of too much Airborn for an exteded use?

5:12 AM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

Thanks to everyone for sharing your comments and experiences.

To the most recent Anonymous commenter: If I were you, I would take the package of Airborne in to your doctor and talk about it with him/her. If you have experienced liver damage, it is very important to see a doctor right away.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Loveandlight said...

I tried Airborne once. It blunted the onset of the cold somewhat, but not enough that I would want to spend money on it again. But keep in mind that Milwaukee cold germs are some of the nastiest cold germs you'll find in the continental USA. Sinus infections are so common around here, it's downright scary.

I have found something that does work very well in containing nasty colds. It's called Zicam. You use an applicator to coat the bottom inside of your nostrils with the stuff, and that radically slows the virus's ability to replicate. You Skeptics out there need not be deterred by the fact that it is labeled a "homeopathic remedy". I think what the company meant to say is that it is naturopathic. Whatever it is, the science behind how it works is pretty basic. Cold germs to most of their reproducing in your nose, and somebody simply found a simple compound that inhibits this replication. And I'm pretty sure I didn't simply "think" it worked, because when you have a Milwaukee cold, all the thinking in the world won't mitigate your misery one little bit.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that only the vitamin A that comes from animal products causes the liver damage. Vitamin A that comes from vegetables does not, there is a difference. Prenatal vitamins use the vegetable based vitamins for this reason. Just thought I would mention it.

I tried Airborne this week. The woman who recommended it said once or twice a day, which I have done. I think every three hours is excessive, esp. for the sodium content. I am eating soup once a day as it is, and Airborne has a good amount of sodium (200mg?). I avoid it mainly for not retaining fuild :), I have low blood pressure but don't like to look bloated.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Mindy said...

before I was pregnant I would take airborne every 3 hours like it said at onset of anything and it usually kicked it's butt with in 24 hours. Now when I got pregnant and I started getting sick I took airborne THEN thought maybe it wouldn't be good, well my dr. said it looked ok, so i took it. But now that I have read your site it confirms what I feared for quite some time. My daughter is now 7 months old and very healthy and a little a head of other babies her age, so thankfully there were no ill side effects of taking airborne during pregnancy.

Now that i've got a cold again i was doing the research on if i could take it while breastfeeding and that is when I found your site. I decided i'm not taking any other meds so i took one last night before bed. well i had some crazy hallucinatory dreams, and i feel worse this morning. (yesterday is when i first noticed symptoms and it was full blown by last night) so i won't be taking it again.

I also would like to mention that i think the ill effect of vitamins is directly related to size of the person taking them. of course the full dose of 5 tablets a day would be more detrimental in a 95lb woman than me who is 260lbs..

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this blog! I recently purchased Airborne because I noticed my co-worker wasn't getting as sick this year, she had taken Airborne.

It says one dose every 3-4 hours ... so I should be okay right??? if I follow those directions ... later I read the ingredients, being concerened that this is a "dietary supplement".

One tablet = 1,633% Vitamin C of the suggested daily value. Whoa! That can't be good. "Every 3-4 hours"? You gotta to be fuckin up your system.

So, I googled and found your blog. Very informational. Thank you for putting it together.

I'm going to be a little more cautious now about taking it.

"Every 3-4 hours", that's a messed up statement. And I thought I was okay following that. Some people even took 2-3 tablets at one time. I'm glad I didn't do that.

3:25 AM  
Blogger spice4life said...

Glad I found this website. I am in my second trimester of pregnancy and getting a little sore throat and wanted to take Airborne to help. I took one tablet a few weeks ago when I though I was getting a cold. The cold never came. Either I wasn't really getting a cold or it helped. I'm not positive. I did not have any ill effects from it. Before I became pregnant I was avid about taking Vitamin C with Echinacea every day. I noticed I wasn't getting sick anymore. Your body can become immune to it which can cause you to get sick, so I only take it during cold and flu season and stop during, say from June through September. Now that I'm pregnant I've stopped after reading that baby's who received high doses of Vitamin C, while in the mothers tummy, were dependant on it after birth. I do however have my 3 boys on it. I give them Organic Rhino Chewable Echinacea with Vitamin C every morning, except again, during the summer. They are all over 40 pounds which I think is a good weight. They are doing so much better then before when not taking it. Please before taking, do your own research on these Vitamins. For my boys it was a necessity. Two of my boys would have a small cold turn bronchiole and end up in the emergency room. My oldest was in the hospital for a week from a cold gone to his lungs and turn asthmatic. So for my boys taking two chewables every morning has helped dramatically. Again-this might not work for you or your children. Please do the research before deciding to take any medication. Everyone can react differently to herbs and medication. I just wanted to share my story on something that has helped me and my family, my mother also takes it and has not been sick in over 3 years. I think I'll chuck the Airborne though, thanks for all the postings. I just lost a pregnancy in August and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize this one. Good luck to all.

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a comment about allergy sufferers/asthmatics: I suffer from viral induced asthma enough so that sometimes a cold has me on a nebulizer and taking prednisone. When I take the Airborne, my infrequent colds are more like a normal persons cold. I don't use it often; usually one tablet if I've been exposed to a cold, and then 1 or 2 a day when I first feel like I'm coming down with a cold.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Airborne is a wonderful product! Shame on you for alarming people to an evil that does not exist. When there is infection in the body, ALL of the vitaman A in the body goes to fight it. The body NEEDS more vitamin A while it's fighting infection. Taking Airborne for two or three days, as directed, isn't going to hurt anyone. There are instances of people taking over 100,000 units of Vitamin A per day, for a few weeks, with no problems. I spend $1,300 on food supplents per year and nothing on drugs. I'm 62 and look at least 20 years younger and I'm much healthier than my younger friends who take prescriptions all the time. Glucosamine stopped my arthritis 11 years ago. Bilberry has sharpended my eyesight. Sure, taking a particular vitamin in excess, for a long period of time could cause problems. Wake up! Three days of Airborne will hurt no one! It's DRUGS that are killing people in large numbers every year!

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Airborne doesn't do crap. It never has...it's just another in a long line of "herbal supplements" that claim to do things they cannot. Theres a 26 million dollar class action settlement that will allow you to claim up to 6 boxes of airborne to be reimbursed (even without a receipt) if you have purchased this product anytime between 2001 and 2007. Go here for your online claim.


6:30 PM  
Blogger Chief Elf said...

For the record, Airborne just choked up $26 million in fines for FALSE advertising. Nowhere on their labels will you find the word "COLD" anywhere now

It's snake oil packaged as a vitamin. Take a multipurpose vitamin/mineral tab and save many $$$.

Every doctor will tell you that the only thing predictable about a cold is that it will get better every day regardless of what you put in your mouth.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whenever I begin to get cold symptoms, I immediately take Airborne with no side effects. I also use Zicam spray and can't remember when I last had a cold. We were in Utah last week when I noticed achiness, swollen glands, sneezing and runny nose - a cold was coming on. After taking one Airborne tablet, these symptoms went away. I have a mentally-handicapped daughter who uses Airborne at the sign of a cold, and my 83-year-old mother also swears by it. I noticed in the March 2008 Reader's Digest a legal notice about a class action lawsuit with Airborne; however, I won't be a part of it.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

A, have you seen this?-


9:59 PM  
Blogger pidgen said...

I think airborn is a very good product and all information posted here is a propoganda against
airborn because this product came from Not Medical Assosiation.
You can get overdose site effects
from any medication not only from airborn.If you are not stupid to take overdose of medication you are perfectly safe

6:51 PM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

People, please keep in mind that this post was written in January 2006, well over 2 years ago. When there was, I think, only one version of Airborne. It had 5,000 IU of Vitamin A per dose and no warnings or guidelines beyond instructions to take one tablet every 3 hours as needed.

And for those of you who are posting critical comments about how I'm part of the "propoganda" against Airborne or was trying to claim it didn't work, maybe you should try bothering to actually read the posts.

Better yet, read the comments underneath--there's some great multi-faceted discussion there.

Wendy, thanks . . . I am aware of the settlement. I hadn't seen that article, though.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi erm it says on it to not exceed over 3 tablets but thanks for the airborne article

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, just wanted to say THANKS for such an interesting thread/post. I appreciate the research!!! I'm an Airborne taker, for over 5 years now. I took it a LOT when I was teaching. When I felt a major cold coming on, I'd take it every 3 hrs, but I don't think I ever used it for more than a week at that level of frequency. I recently was in the hospital (unrelated to Airborne) and a CT scan showed there was nothing wrong with my liver, except for a small amount of gravel, which thank God eventually just rinsed through my system. I imagine the gravel was possibly contributed to by my frequent use of Airborne, because all those nutrients can leave behind deposits in the liver? I will certainly be more cautious with it, as I began to do anyhow when I realized I also got a lot of similar nutrients from my multivitamin, which I take daily! That said, I must admit the Airborne truly works.
On a sidenote, I contracted the mouth/lip herpes virus when I was a teen, and when I feel an outbreak coming on, Airborne actually helps it - it either prevents a full outbreak completely, or makes the healing of the lip sore (sorry, gross!) MUCH MUCH faster. Typically 4 me a lip sore would last 1 or even 2 weeks, before full healing, and with a lot of pain in the beginning. Seriously, on Airborne, it goes away in about 3 days and hurts only for the first day. I have no idea if maybe other factors have to do with this, only what I've noticed when I take the Airborne when I feel a sore coming on. So, if u have herpes, maybe give it a shot! Thanks again for providing all this info.

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...Whoops, correction to the post above, there in fact WAS nothing wrong with my liver..... the gravel was in my kidneys! Duh... hehehe

11:37 PM  
Anonymous pam said...

Airborne is awesome! I am a 46 yr old female.....used to get flus and colds often (probably 3 or more during winter months). On this sight I mostly see people who have taken it after they were already sick (some saying it worked, some saying it did nothing). However, I take it whenever someone in my household gets sick or if I have been in the same room with other people who are sick (esp. the doctor's office!) and I have NOT BEEN SICK ONCE in the two years since I started!

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both me and my husband came down ill this year and ive taken airborn b4... i dont know why it happens but everytime i take it and when he did, we both became constipated... i became so bad my sister had to do and enmna (sp wrong i think) and it was horrible... i have in the past had this issue b4 but not to this degree.. and yes i do drink enough fluids (in fact all my life i drink more fluids than the food i eat and never have bowel issues) My sister and her freind also take airborn and they also get the same side effects.. so i dont know how many others out there are like that just be careful when taking this stuff

again sorry for the typos and the spelling on hubbies computer!

2:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everytime I feel a cold coming on, I take 1 tablet in juice or water and that is usually all it takes for it to stop me from getting any worse if not vanishing completely. On 1 or 2 occasions I took a second dose on the second day and never had to take anymore. I also have given friends a tablet or two if they were starting to get sick and they said it worked very well. Infact, not one person ever had anything negative to say.
You can feel it working shortly
after taking it and start to feel better almost immediately. As anything, don't use in excess, you will feel better and if you don't after the first tablet feel any better at all, then your immune system must be very poor and will take time to build it back up. It isn't something you can do in a few days.

2:42 AM  
Anonymous judy said...

To get the most benefit out of Airborne you need to take it as soon as you feel a cold coming on. Don't wait even a hour or two later. If you do, it won't be as effective. Don't think that it won't matter if you take it in a little while rather than right away. Take that extra 2 or 3 minutes and stop what you are doing if you want to get the most out of it.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Gaurav Joshi said...

I am sick right now with cold and i was advised to have airborne. I took it once and I felt amazing but then came this crashing down feeling accompanied by weakness. I did not blame this on airborne and took it again. Again I had the same result, I felt energetic and after about 6 hours followed by weakness and increase in fever.

I am very skeptical in using airborne again. Can some one let me know if they have had similar experience?

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, twice I've had a cold for a few hours, taken Airborne, and it's gone. that's enough for me to be convinced. And, it's only got 40% of A, and Manganese is only 3 mg, not the high amount that was posted. Someone needs to read the label :D

5:36 PM  
Anonymous sudoku said...

Thanks for sharing your info on Airborne. I didn't know much about overdose of vitamin A.


8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took airborne for the first time a few days ago. I immidiately began having panic attacks that became increasingly worse as the days went on. After 5 days I could hardly function. Severe shaking, insomnia, and hot/cold flashes. I am leaving on a trip in 2 days and just hope I feel normal again before I go. Never gonna take that stuff again!

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the information. It was interesting getting down towards the more recent posts as it is now 2011. Still very concerned about the dangers of OTC drugs and possible Over Dose situations. I lean towards the holistic medications in most situations or riding out the cold and let my body fight it alone. However I believe I received a bronchitis infection from a friend of mine who forgot to share with me he was getting over a bed ridden 4 day bout with bronchitis/sinisitis.

Anyway went out to walgreens and of course a stock girl recommended Airborne because her friends swear by it. I was concerned myself when looking at the amounts of vitamins in it. However as people have now stated the actual supplement facts are now different and they do state (both on the box and bottle) to "take every 3-4 hours as necessary, no more than 3 times per day". Also stating "Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding, unless you have consulted a physician"

Although these were on my box I still found it quite helpful to read all of the information on a product that most people, including walgreens physicians, had little information.

Thank you Purple for the all the awareness. Keep it up, hopefully one day more people will stop blindly trusting a "miracle pill".

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all you people saying Airborne is safe and wonderful and are poo-pooing those who have felt some side effects: NOTHING is 100% completely safe for all people. Some people can't handle certain herbs, for example. Ginseng makes me so jittery, I feel like I've had 100 cups of coffee. And I can't take vitamins with yeast in them because I have a high acid content and it basically ferments and I feel tipsy. If you feel ANY weirdness, stop taking it and limit anything you do take. Seriously, my daughter started to feel dizzy and nauseous almost every night and she also was drinking a glass of Airborne before every dinner. After months of testing, the final result was she was basically overdosing on Vitamin A and C. Seriously, if you feel a cold coming on, drink a couple of glasses of orange juice and a lot of water. Nobody needs this amount of additional vitamins every day.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Hallo Franki said...

Wow -- I guess never read the box correctly or never read it at all, because I had it stuck in my head that you were only supposed to drink it once a day!
I guess I figured, "Well...it's like a vitamin supplement. You take vitamins once a day. I will take Airborne once a day."

Just goes to show ya...

2:54 PM  
Blogger Sparrow said...

Haha, ironic. When you posted on FaceBook that you were feeling sick again, Mom brought Dad an AirBorne since he's seen you recently. He's like, "Oh, I already took one." Turns out he's been taking them as ascribed on the package for weeks.

I only take them once a day for short periods of time because I'd heard of the overdose of A thing, but I decided to check it again to make sure I was telling Dad the right thing. Funny that this post popped up on Goggle as the third link on the first page! I don't remember reading it back when you first posted it. Anyway, we'll have Dad start taking less of them. ;-)

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for researching and posting this info. There is little to no info on any of this-searched long term effects/safety of Airborne use. Airborne has worked really well for me but I was concerned when I realized I had been taking it a couple weeks (sick season and I work with kids and have 2 of my own). I really appreciate arming myself with info NOT provided by the company.
Concerned Mom and Caregiver
Charlotte, NC

3:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will never take one of these again. I nearly left this earth.

4:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I started taking a generic version of Airborne last week. A few hours after taking it I felt itchy and swollen and had back pain. I had shortness of breath and went to the ER. Today after taking the supplement I had the same symptoms. I have connective tissue disease and asthma. From reading this blog I now know it is the supplement that is causing my symptoms. I'll discontinue the supplement right away!

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Interesting! I never even tried it before. I might give it a try since many people claimed it's pretty effective.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would you continue taking amything for an excessive amount of time or blow through a whole package in a day?

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you done any recent follow ups from this post? I saw that it was a couple years old. I appreciate the information and since I am not sure what each vitamin does for me, the information was a nice read.

It is noteworthy that since the original posting their labels and directions have been modified.

I have been using Airborne since I started my current job about 2.5 years ago. People like to come to work sick. I hear them cough and start using AB one or two times a day for 1-3 days just to ward off the germs. If I feel any cold symptoms I "might" do it 3 times in one day.

I haven't noticed any side effects except that I have not had to take time off of work for illness since using. My colds go away faster than before and most times are prevented. I also very much so appreciate the surge of energy I have for a little while after taking.

I like to think I am fairly healthy in general, but I absolutely think the AB is a great supplement.

As with anything - Moderation is good. I would assume using the entire tube in one day is not only 1. a HUGE waste of money, but 2. Overkill.

Thanks for the information.

4:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have recently discovered AB and LOVE how effective it is. HOWEVER, I came upon your post because I was researching side effects because while I was using it this week to help avoid the flu that is plaguing my house I have been having intense irregular heartbeats. I am a 37 healthy woman with no health problems. I contacted my Dr who wanted me in the ER immediately....I didn't go. But I am now thinking this could be the cause!

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Warning: these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA

Nor are there any definitive studies linking vitamin C or anything else with reducing a cold duration or symptoms.

Rest, plenty of fluids and 10 days later all will be fine....

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I recently had a scare with skin cancer and a broken tooth at the same time so I thought to build up my immune system I would take 1 airborne each day. I did so everyday for about 2 weeks and the following happened after taking it for about 10 consecutive days, I would wake up feeling great take the airborne and a little bit later be nauseated with a headache the nausea and headache would remain all day and then I would sleep and start the same cycle the next day. Now as an R.N. I finally asked myself what am I doing different each day that I usually don't do and the only answer I came up with was the Airborne. I then googled nausea headache and Airborne and came up with your blog. Thank you so much for it. Today will be my last dose of Airborne for a long while. I still think it is good but only 2 to 3 doses when you are coming down with something and that is It. More in a healthy person can lead to vitamin toxicity.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ignorance is bliss. Stick your head back in the sand.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Not So Sick! said...

I have MS & used to take antibiotics & steroids about 8 times a year for sinus infections that developed from allergies. Since I discovered Airborne (or copy) I have to take meds for infection only maybe twice a year! Huge help for limiting yeast infection & osteopenia from meds! I take 2 tabs (because I have an immune deficiency disease- MS) once upon first sign of sinus infection. I may take second dose 12 hrs. later. After that, if still have symptoms, I assume I waited too late & go to Dr. for meds. (Dr. told me not to take echinacea for too may days without a break.) This has been wonderful for me! Just have to take early on or too late for me!
When I do have to take meds for infection, after finishing the meds, I take a dose or 2 of Airborne ( or copy) to keep the infection from returning ( which it used to do years ago before I used Airborne or off brand copy). I agree that dosage depends on individual differences in health & other meds or supplements. I do not take along with meds for infection!

9:55 AM  
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6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2:35 AM  
Blogger Jessica Morgan said...

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10:56 AM  
Blogger Handerson Lizzy said...

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10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rule of thumb DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING IN EXCESS. People have to stop
taking things liberally and think carefully. It seems to me that people
have become really stupid in believing all the labels and then blaming the
company. Please people read a little more, pay more attention and
be smart in all treatments. Stop putting the blame on companies that are
just selling you stuff.

7:13 PM  

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