Good Health asks experts to assess which products work for ailments

Can you stop all these ailments before they even start? From colds to blisters, travel sickness and ulcers Good Health asks experts to assess which products really work

Prevention is better than cure, or so the saying goes. But do products that claim to stop you developing a particular health problem always deliver on their promises? 

CAROLINE JONES asked experts to assess which work — and which might be a waste of cash. All are available in High Street pharmacies or online.

Sterimar Cold Defence nasal spray, 50ml, £6.50


Sterimar Cold Defence nasal spray, 50ml, £6.50

CLAIM: Made from purified sea water, this can help ‘limit cold symptoms and reduce the risk of ear, nose and throat disorders’ by flushing out germs in the nose. 

Spray once in each nostril, let any excess solution flow out and then blow your nose.

EXPERT VERDICT: Dr Nisa Aslam, a GP in Tower Hamlets, London, says: ‘This is unlikely to be effective because a cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract [nose, throat and sinuses].

‘However, by keeping the nasal passages clear of mucus, it could help reduce nasal congestion, inflammation, sneezing and runny nose.

‘Salt water has also been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation of the nasal lining. But the most effective way to prevent a cold is to wash your hands regularly.’ 4/10

ColdZyme mouth spray, 20ml, £17.50

ColdZyme mouth spray, 20ml, £17.50

CLAIM: This forms a protective barrier on the membrane of the throat which ‘prevents and shortens common colds’. Just spray into the mouth every two hours while exposed to the cold virus.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘The main ingredients in this product are glycerol and the enzyme trypsin, which claim to break down the ability of the cold virus to attach to surfaces in the throat,’ says Dr Aslam.

‘A small study found that this could shorten the duration of common cold symptoms by three days and may also reduce the spread of colds. However, the product is quite expensive.

‘Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, sleep and regular hand-washing, is the best way to reduce your risk.’ 6/10

CranMed Forte prevention, 28 capsules, £14.95


CranMed Forte prevention, 28 capsules, £14.95

CLAIM: CranMed Forte prevents urinary tract infections (UTIs) — such as cystitis — caused by E. coli bacterium. Take one capsule a day with water.

EXPERT VERDICT: Rich Viney, a consultant urologist at BMI The Priory Hospital in Birmingham, says: ‘Cranberries have long been touted as an answer for preventing cystitis, but studies to prove this have been disappointing.

‘The theory is that antioxidants in the cranberries bind to E. coli in the gut, preventing them from sticking to the lining of the bladder, where they can take hold, causing infection.

‘But a 2017 review found that, while cranberries were linked to a slight reduction in UTIs, the results weren’t statistically significant. Anyone experiencing recurrent UTIs should see their doctor.’ 6/10

Senocalm IBS Relief and Prevention, 20 capsules, £5.99


Senocalm IBS Relief and Prevention, 20 capsules, £5.99

CLAIM: An oral capsule to prevent bloating and gas-related symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Can be taken three times a day, 30 minutes before eating.

EXPERT VERDICT: Dr Nisa Aslam says: ‘This is a great product if your GP has diagnosed IBS, which causes stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.

‘The ingredient simethicone prevents the build up of gas in the bowel by working on the surface layer of gas bubbles and helping wind pass out the bowel faster, which eases bloating.

‘There is evidence that simethicone is effective — and the product is recommended for IBS by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.’ 9/10


Lipivir, 2g, £8.99

CLAIM: Used daily, this lip gel promises to reduce the frequency of cold sores.

It contains PEGs (polyethylene glycols), which it claims forms a barrier on lips that ‘interrupts viral signalling’.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘There is no robust evidence that PEGs prevent cold sores, although this gel may help keep lips moisturised,’ says Anton Alexandroff, a consultant dermatologist at BMI The Manor Hospital in Bedford.

‘We know that cold sore infections are more likely to flare up when the skin dries out. But Vaseline is probably more effective because it’s thicker, so it provides a decent barrier.’ 4/10

KT Blister Prevention Tape, 30 strips, £9.95


KT Blister Prevention Tape, 30 strips, £9.95

CLAIM: Designed to prevent chafing, this barrier tape reduces the occurrence of blisters. 

Apply to areas prone to rubbing, such as heels and toes. The 3.5 in strips stay on for up to two days.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Friction foot blisters are common, but can be surprisingly painful,’ says Dr Aslam.

‘A 2017 review concluded that “paper tape may be an effective form of barrier prevention”, so this product is worth trying, along with other measures such as well-fitting shoes and suitable socks.’ 6/10

Driclor solution, 20ml, £6.19


Driclor solution, 20ml, £6.19

CLAIM: This contains aluminium chloride, said to block underarm sweat glands to reduce the flow of sweat, which is reabsorbed by the body. 

The makers claim excessive perspiration should stop after a few weeks of use.

EXPERT VERDICT: Dr Alexandroff says: ‘Driclor is a strong, medical-grade antiperspirant. It contains 20 per cent aluminium chloride, which is high when compared with most High Street anti-perspirants, which contain 5 per cent.

‘Aluminium chloride is proven to work by blocking the sweat glands. Some people do find that at high strength it can irritate their skin, but no studies have shown it to be dangerous.’ 8/10

Gengigel Mouthrinse, 150ml, £10


Gengigel Mouthrinse, 150ml, £10

CLAIM: Containing hyaluronan — a natural substance which stimulates the production of new tissue — this alcohol-free mouth rinse promises to ‘prevent mouth ulcers and inflamed gums’.

EXPERT VERDICT: Dr Bill Schaeffer, a dental surgeon from The Implant Centre in Hove, East Sussex, says: ‘Mouth ulcers are very common, but preventing recurrent ones is a real challenge. 

‘Possible causes include hormonal changes and vitamin deficiencies.

‘Research suggests that hyaluronic acid [hyaluronan] — which is found in this mouth rinse — helps repair gum tissue and speed up healing.’ 8/10

Audiclean ear cleansing wash, 115ml, £10.50


Audiclean ear cleansing wash, 115ml, £10.50

CLAIM: Containing sterilised sea water, this can prevent the build-up of wax by dispersing it and washing it out of the ear. Use three times a week.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘This is just an over-priced bottle of sea water — and I can’t find any robust data to show that sea water works in a unique way to reduce ear wax build-up,’ says Dr Aslam.

‘Ear wax is produced to keep ears clean and it usually passes out harmlessly, but sometimes it builds up and blocks the ears. Sodium bicarbonate ear drops (such as Otex, £5.99) can be used to soften hard wax, although some find them drying for the ear canal.

‘I advise patients to use two drops of olive oil once a day to keep wax soft.’ 3/10

Stugeron 15, 15 tablets, £3.35


Stugeron 15, 15 tablets, £3.35

CLAIM: These pills contain 15mg cinnarizine, which can prevent travel sickness. Take two tablets two hours before travelling.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘There is evidence that Stugeron helps prevent travel sickness,’ says Dr Aslam.

‘Cinnarizine is an anti-histamine that interferes with the signalling between the inner ear and brain, which causes motion sickness.

‘Be aware that it can cause drowsiness and individuals with conditions such as epilepsy should consult a doctor before taking it, as it may trigger seizures.’ 7/10

SECRETS OF AN A-LIST BODY: How to get the enviable physiques of the stars 

Jessica Chastain, 42, wore a glamorous off-the-shoulder gown that revealed her toned decolletage to the premiere of It

THIS WEEK: Jessica Chastain’s decolletage

At a film premiere recently, Jessica Chastain wore a glamorous off-the-shoulder gown that revealed her toned decolletage (right).

The 42-year-old actress is a big advocate of yoga, and follows Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga workouts online when on location.

‘I used to work out at his studio in Santa Monica, but now I do it when I’m travelling,’ she has said. She also stays in shape by dancing and taking long hikes.

WHAT TO TRY: The standing press exercise is great for working the muscles that support the decolletage. 

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and bring your arms to the side.

Keeping this angle, press your arms together until they touch in front of your face. Return to the start position. Repeat as many times as you can for 60 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds and repeat five sets.

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