“ Brand: Boots „
I have to confess - I bought these Boots Max Strength Direct Dose Cold & Flu Relief Lemon thingies by mistake! I was actually on a mission to try out the Boots version of lemsip. I am usually a very careful label reader, and I did in fact scrutinise the ingredients list to be sure they were equivalent to the other versions on the shelf - however, I didn't look at the front of the pack too closely and took these back to my office. Luckily I can blame my head cold!
Upon my return I discovered that what I had purchased was actually a packet of sachets of powder which you pour onto your tongue. Having been looking forward to a nice hot lemony drink this was a bit of a let down, however I took the plunge.
As you can see form the picture, this has the usual Boots packaging. They come in a box about the size of a cigarette packet, perhaps slightly deeper. On the back is all the usual information:
These are described as being "for the relief of the symptoms of cold and flu including aches and pains, sore throat, headache, nasal congestion and reducing fever."
There are the usual warnings on the leaflet - don't take if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, do not take with other paracetamol drugs (more detailed information is on the leaflet in the box, but I'm not going to bore you with that)
------Inside the box-------
When you open the box you find 10 sachets - the size of the long narrow sugar packets you get in cafes, although these are made of plastic, not paper.
Each sachet has a small cut at one end for you to tear open from. One great thing about the packets is that they don't have any excess air in them. This means they're very skinny, and importantly means that you can chuck a handful into your handbag or pocket and not have to worry about them bursting open - very nifty feature!
The sachets also list the ingredients, instructions, use by date and warning about paracetamol - again very useful for carrying them without the box.
------ Ingredients -------
These little sachets each contain 1000mg of paracetamol and 12.2 mg of phenylephrine hydrochloride (this is the decongestant - I'm going to call this PH from now on). This is the equivalent of 2 standard paracetamol tablets plus the magical PH decongestant. It's difficult to compare these to other products because they all have differing amounts of PH. For example, I usually use Beechams Flu Plus caplets, each of which contain 500mg paracetamol and only 5 mg of PH, so if you take the recommended 2 at a time, you're getting less than half the PH.
What these dont have, which many others do, is any caffeine. Caffeine aids in the fast absorption of paracetamol, but as I drink plenty of coffee I don't think this is too much a problem for me.
These sachets also, sadly, contain Aspartame (an artificial sweetener which contains phenylalanine, used in Nutrasweet, Equal and Canderel). More later.
The other ingredients (listed only on the information leaflet) are Xylitol, ascorbic acid, ethylcellulose, tartaric acid, sodium carbonate, glyceryl tristearate, aspartame, sweet flavour and lemon flavour.
Adults and children over 12yrs: 1 sachet every 4 hours, not to exceed 4 doses in any 24 hour period.
--------------- Use and taste ------------
You simply open the sachet and pour it down your gob. Opening them can be a little tricky - I tend to simply cut the end off with scissors, because I found getting a clean tear tricky. However it is possible to do without scissors, just more fiddly. Before pouring I recommend letting some air into the packet because it pours more easily that way.
It tastes just like lemon sherbet - very sweet and fizzy and it just melts away. If you leave it on your tongue for too long there is a slight "medicine" metallic taste - this may actually just be the artificial sweetener, which I hate and usually avoid like the plague. The further down the back of your tongue you can put it the better, but it's not difficult or unpleasant at all, even if you miss. I would recommend avoiding inhaling at the same time though!
You don't need any water, although I find I like to have a drink afterwards to clear my mouth as I don't like leaving any residue in it.
According to the information leaflet these also come in blackcurrant flavour, if that floats your boat.
----------- Does it work ----------
I very firmly believe that the same quantity of active ingredient will work in exactly the same way no matter what brand it is, so I can't say that it achieves better results than other cold and flu drugs like Beechams.
What it may do is act more quickly, because there's no waiting while your digestive system breaks down a tablet or capsule. Who knows? I found that it dulled my aches and cleared my nose to a certain extent, which is what I expected it to do. I haven't attempted to use more than one type of drug during the same day, which I think is really the only way to properly compare.
I paid £3.49 at my local mini boots down the road from my office. As it's the only one I ever use I don't know if it's cheaper at larger stores. It was cheaper than the competitors (however you need to bear in mind I was rather stupidly comparing it to the hot lemon drink types!).
Because it has 10 doses, it lasts longer than my usual Beechams, which only contains 16 caplets, which means 8 doses.
The really big advantage for me is that you can stick a few of these in your handbag and forget about them. You simply can't do that with tablets or capsules, because if you take them out of the box you risk breaking the seals. You also don't get the ingredients and warnings on the sheets of tablets, where as you have them on these sachets.
You also don't need any water so can take them on the run without any problems. I assume people that can't take tablets for any reason would also find these useful.
If you're after the strongest product available the amount of phenylephrine exceeds that in many other products.
These have artificial sweeteners, in my opinion one of the most evil substances on earth! Artificial sweeteners have been linked to toxicity levels which can cause migraines, although it's a very controversial subject and aspartame is considered one of the safest. As a matter of personal preferences I avoid them. Sadly this product does not say how much each sachet contains.
You are also stuck with the recommended dose and can't really take less, unless you attempt to keep half a sachet for later. With tablets you can always halve the dose, so there's less flexibility with these.
Similarly, some people may find the level of phenylephrine too high.
Overall I think these are a great addition to your medicine cabinet. I think their portability is the strongest factor in their favour. The price was reasonable, and (I think) cheaper than all the competitors. It has a higher dose of the decongestant, which is a good thing for me.
For the relief of the symptoms of cold and flu including aches and pains, sore throat, headache, nasal congestion and reducing fever.