Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Placebo or Legit?

August 22, 2010 and I had just finished running 21 miles and 2,600 feet of elevation gain on trails through the Rocky Mountains. You may remember that Dean Karnazes was my partner for the first leg of the Trans Rockies Run that day.

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(Yes, I am name dropping and I am doing this because I have so few names to drop from the past 46 years that I have to repeat-name-drop on occasion ((okay – well – I did go to high school with Greg Kinnear. But, he wouldn’t know me from a turd in the toilet, so that probably doesn’t count)).

Anyway, as I finished this run, my first on trails ever, it was a scorching 90 degrees. One of the support people handed me a packet of Emergen-C and told me to take it for recovery. I had never heard of it. She said it would boost my immune system since I was pretty depleted and that it had lots of good electrolytes. I do what anyone tells me (yes, mom I did jump off a cliff because Lisa did it), so I dumped it in some beer (I mean water) and chugged away.

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Since that time, I haven’t taken Emergen-C. I haven’t even really thought about it, although I do hear people talk about it all the time – “I swear I was getting the Ebola virus and I took a packet of Emergen-C and am a new person!

The other day someone in the grocery store gave me a sample and I had it stashed in my purse. When my throat started hurting yesterday, I remembered that secret packet in my purse and decided to give it a shot. The entire world around me has been sick lately and laid up for days. I’ve been training  hard and probably could use a bit of a boost. Plus, I don’t want my training to get derailed by illness. I mean could it really hurt? Don’t you just pee out extra stuff your body doesn’t need? So, I drank it down. And, my throat stopped hurting. Coincidence? Perhaps.

When my kids got sick all the time when they were little and it was impossible to avoid germs (yeah getting puked on makes that tough) I used to take Echinacea a lot for immunity. I never really was sure if it helped. I am one who hardly ever gets sick, so I don’t do a lot of herbal or medicinal prevention stuff.

This got me to wondering if this would be a good thing to take every once in awhile during training – both for electrolyte replacement and an immunity boost. So, I did some research from unbiased sources and here’s what I’ve found:

  • The Mayo clinic suggests not exceeding 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day. One packet of Emergen-C has 1,000 mgs
  • Pregnant women should not take high doses of vitamin C because it can cause scurvy in infants
  • Too much vitamin C can cause stomach upset. YES! I love crapping myself unexpectedly.
  • There’s a lot of sugar Emergen-C (percentage wise per serving)
  • It might be good mixed in vodka (this is my own assessment)
  • No one knows if it really works or does anything.

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See? I don’t always wear running clothes.

Do you take any stuff if you think you’re getting sick? Does it work?

Would you take it during training for a boost?

Got any names to drop? Give me one.

SUAR

51 comments:

  1. I'm doing my first marathon on Sunday. I started taking Airborne last week for a hang-nail that could develop into a flesh eating bacteria. It's also treating my horrible case of taper maddness. So yes, it helps. For the taper maddness anyway. Not so much the hang nail.

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  2. I just try to be an inhospitable host for germs up to and including drinking Apple Cider vinegar in green tea. I take 2000 mg of Vitamin C every day and a multi vitamin. I avoided two colds this winter with my little cocktail. When I skip the regimen I catch something. Like a sore throat from my constantly sick colleague. So though some of these concoctions may not kill the germs, it might just make the host less appealing.

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  3. My hubby and I are both convinced that Emergen-C gave him an ulcer. That stuff can really tear up your stomach.

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  4. I'm enjoying my nightly Emergen-C right now (in a big goblet with ice). We swear by it, none of us has been sick at all this winter save a little sniffle or two. I just love the taste of it.

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  5. Love me some raspberry Emergen-C with vodka and O.J.!! Its like a health drink that way. ;) My kids are so sick right now so I am guzzling the stuff (minus the vodka). So far, so good. It may be a placebo but who cares! If it makes my brain keep me healthy, its good enough for me. It was on sale at King Soopers last week but I'm not sure if it still is or not.

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  6. I had the pleasure of meeting Hugh Jackman (great photo-op too) and getting a nice close up photo with Dean Karnazes. Both great fellas!!!
    Generally, I don't take anything if I feel something coming on but I would do it in a heartbeat if I thought it would boost immunity during hard training. Hey even if it's mind over matter....whatever works!

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  7. I used to take it after long runs...I'm not sure what I thought it would do, but I can't claim any real evidence it worked. I will say that every one I knew was sick a couple of weeks ago and I started to feel the "crud" coming on. I bought some Zycam tabs and lo and behold I didn't get sick. I'm a total believer.

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  8. I've been pretty faithful to my daily dose of Emergen-C since the fall and have not had a significant cold since then (and I work for a primary care doctor). My 16 year old uses it also and he has had less colds than his germy brother. On another note, a nurse practitioner I used know said that her husband got cranky when he wasn't getting enough vitamin F....

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  9. Emergen-C really does make me feel rather queasy so I definitely wouldn't take it during training. My husband swears by it, though, and took it while training for his fall marathon.

    You have Dean Karnazes and I have...Carrot Top. He offered to by me a drink at a bar in Madison, WI after a comedy show. I was holding out for Adam Sandler who was the main act that night, but he sadly never materialized.

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  10. I swear by Emergen-C. It might be a placebo, but since I think it works, it's working.

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  11. It may be a placebo, but I always have a stash of Aireborne in my cupboard. If I know people I'm around a lot are sick, I'll pop one in the morning and I pop one the morning of any BIG race (marathon or bigger) because odds are I'm going to be pretty wiped by the end.

    So far, so good, but that may just be the 'mind over matter' speaking.

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  12. I peed at Jenna Fischer's house. She's Pam from The Office.

    I use Nuun to stave off hangovers. Does that count?

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  13. Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans and I were on the same swim team when we were age 12/13. Of course she kicked my behind in the 500 but I'm proud to say I would come in second!

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  14. I went to Marquette with Chris Farley. He liked to party, and at the time, no one thought he was particularly funny, just obnoxious. One night we were at a bar, and he was "muff diving", he said. He bit me. Hard. In the butt. I have no doubt we exchanged pleasantries. I had teeth marks and bruising for a few days. My claim to fame.

    To prevent illness, I wash my hands. I also take probiotics. Not a fan of excess vitamin C. It gives me GI issues.

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  15. Well don't discount the power of a placebo. I haven't been sick in years and overall would say I rarely have been sick.. I think that last time could have been about 10 years ago. I also up until about 3 yrs ago worked in a hospital as a RN so plenty of exposure to all sorts of everything. If I thought I was getting sick , I would probably drink some tea and get more sleep. I am not a taker of vitamins. So no, I wouldn't take it as a training boost.
    ARGH! I don't know any famous people!!! oh wait, well, do the Mahre brothers count? you know the ski racers Steve and Phil?from the early 80's well, I did load their butts on a chairlift. I was a ski lift operator once upon a time.

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  16. Stuff I Take When I Think I'm Getting Sick: Water & Extra Sleep
    I've tried zinc tablets in the past when I feel a cold coming on, but aren't convinced they do much except leave a funny taste in my mouth.

    If I Need A Boost During Training, I Take: Water, Sleep, More Food, or Coffee.

    Names: I've got nothing for ya, except lead. And all that does is hurt your toe when you drop it. [Apparently, I can also drop bad science jokes.]

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  17. Nelson Mandela... We ran past him (stopped and said Hi) on a morning run...

    I eat Garlic it keeps germs and my wife away... so I can sleep!

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  18. Placebo.

    Not that that's bad. I happen to believe in the placebo effect. However, almost everything discussed here will only guarantee that you will have expensive urine.

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  19. I drink bone broth, and focus on keeping my gut flora as healthy as possible. Healthy gut = healthy body. I don't take any type of supplement as yet (though, that has come back to bite me, as I've just found out I have some weird unexplained deficiencies, despite plenty of dietary intake - go figure). The thing to watch out for is that vitamin C, particularly large doses in supplements, can inhibit your absorption of B12. B12 deficiency is a real bummer, can completely tank your performance and really drain you emotionally. Food for thought :)

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  20. Not placebo...I believe every little bit helps, it's such a fine balance within our complicated bodies.

    I've met Vanna White in a shopping mall with her brother and I also met Oprah and she kissed me on the cheek (to ease my embarrassment and stupidity from an awful question I asked her in all innocence but which I will not divulge here :-0). Btw, her skin is gorgeous!!!! Wish I knew what skin care products she uses.
    My friend met the lead singer of the band Bad English (showing my age here) in a bar and he squeezed one of her tatas. I think she got the better celebrity encounter.

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  21. I actually taken this stuff EmergenC when I feel like Im getting a cold or if Lola is running around with sniffles. Honest, I have no idea if it works...but I make sure to drink lots of water, hot tea, and rest too so...

    Name drop? I met Eric Estratra from CHiPs when I was five. How's THAT for name dropping? Yeah, I know. You are jealous.

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    1. Oooh, I am! I used to have such a crush on him!!

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  22. I take an Emergen-C every morning and have for some time. Whether the effect is physical or psychosomatic I'm not sure, but I do know that I slept in a tent with 7 other people for 3 months in the cold and didn't get sick! Particularly since I don't eat very much fruit, I'm not concerned about overdoing the Vitamin C.

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    1. I think I need to know what you were doing in a tent with 7 other people for three months.

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  23. The company that makes Emergen-C never has to worry about going out of business, because our family buys the stuff in bulk at Costco haa haa! I try to take one after every long run. And the *second* anyone in the family feels like they might be getting even the slightest anything they pound the stuff :-) I personally swear by it!!!

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  24. I forgot to name drop! I gave a ride (from the airport to a hotel downtown) to the mom of Elton Brand (he's a NBA basketball player).

    And my daughter goes to the same gymnastics school as Joe Sakic (he's an ex-NHL player) so we sit next to him at practice and meetings sometimes. Sorry, that's the best I can do haa haa!!!

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  25. I take one cold eze lozenge after long runs and speed workouts during marathon training. I don't know if they would work for everyone but I have never been sick in 5 marathon training cycles. Name drop Donald Sutherland had a summer house near where I grew up, saw him all the time. Keifer Sutherland hit on me one night while he was drunk and dating Julia Roberts (I do not know what she saw in him) and Quincy Jones was at a wedding I attended, we did some dancing.

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  26. I've always taken BCAA's and L-Glutamine after a hard workout. BCAA's because I eat a limited diet. I stay pretty healthy, rarely get sick. As for trying something recommended if I think I was coming down with something AND what was being recommended was natural, I'd give it a go.

    As for name dropping, Greg McMillan and Andrew Lemon of McMillan Running. Went to his running camp in AZ last May. It was AMAZING! He's such a great guy. And Lemon is super! He made me realize that Olympic calaber athletes suffer the same fears as we do before a race.

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  27. Have not been sick much since my kids were little. A little extra sleep and some green tea seem to do the trick for me. Never tried the extra 'C' stuff, don't need extra GI issues.

    Bumps with fame: Spent about an hour at a hotel bar in Snowmass with Buddy Hackett (he is an older comediam, think Bob Hope days, yea I am older). Well Buddy, me, a coworker and the bartender, that was it. My gut hurt from laughing so hard as he told so many great stories. He was just waiting for his wife and another couple for dinner. He even bought us drinks as he told his stories.

    Speaking of Joe Sakic, my husband peed next to Joe and his sons at the Cabo airport last year. We were seated just behind Joe and his family on the plane. Loved that mom was telling one of the sons to quite 'LOL'ing with his friends, saying it cost .50 cents a pop and that it adds up. Sakic made tens of millions, yet she was still trying to teach money values! :)

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  28. I met and partied with Scott Caan in Austin, TX. He's the son of James Caan and is currently popular for the remake of Hawaii 50. He really liked my friend. My other big name drop is my step-cousin Jessica Hardy. She's an Olympic Swimmer and won the Bronze in the 1X400 FS relay (including an American Record) and Gold in the 4X100 medley relay at the 2012 London Olympics. She also has the WR in 50 Freestyle.

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  29. I bet Greg Kinnear would know you from a turd in the toilet, if only because turds can't run.

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  30. I had a 15K race the morning after sweating out a fever overnight. When I saw the Emergen-C in my gift bag, I thought "why not?" I swear it helped. The sugar, the Vitamin C, I don't know what it was, but I felt much better by the time I got to the starting line and I ended up running my fastest distance longer a 10K that day.

    So who knows? Even if it is a placebo, even if it doesn't truly help, it sure as heck doesn't hurt, either, right?

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  31. I keep airborne around and do have it before a long run or race, and before I fly. But I try not to rely on anything like that... just try to eat more fruit and veggies and garlic and peppers when I'm feeling low.

    But the best way to keep from getting sick, and to keep your family from getting germs you might carry, is to wash your hands. And not with that anti-bacterial nonsense, either. Just good old soap and water, and sing "Happy Birthday" while you do it.

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  32. I almost never really get sick and I refuse to take almost any medications. If you see me popping Alka-Seltzer cold medicine, it means I think I might be dying. I won’t take pain relievers or anti-inflammatories. But, I do have packets of Emergen-C in my desk at work (because people love to come to work sick for some reason) and a few at home. I’ll take it at the very first sign of illness; a scratchy throat or a little sinus congestion, and it seems to help. Like I said, I rarely get sick.

    I’m hesitant to take it every time because I haven’t researched it and I try to keep my diet primarily made up of whole natural foods (and beer), and I have on very few occasions felt it may have been responsible for minor stomach issues, but when you think you’re getting sick, it’s hard to figure out exactly what causes that, the illness or the powdered drink. So far it has helped well enough when I fear illness approaching. Never thought about it as a recovery drink. I may consider that for this weekend’s half marathon.

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  33. If it works it works :) BTW your stairway looks soooo steep!

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  34. I have taken Airborne several times but don't really llike the taste and cannot honestly say it did anything for me. I have never tried Emergen-C.

    At Barnes and Noble I had a conversation with Wynonna Judd, she is really tall, and my daughter loved that they had the same flip flops...from Target. I also shop at the same store as Carrie Underwood (yep, she gets her own groceries) but have yet to actually see her. Being in Nashville, I am sure I have seen people but didn't recognize them in "normal" mode.

    My husband works on airplanes and has met Kenny Chesney, and has done work on several other famous planes. I told him if he ever works on John Travolta's or Harrison Ford's plane, I am going with him!

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  35. We take Cold Eeze around here at the first sign of a cold (and with 4 young kids, we take them A LOT). Now I'm curious about Emergen-C. Hmmm. I don't mind making expensive pee if it helps even just mentally.

    Name drop? I saw Robert Downey, Jr at a chain steak house once. And I still think my SIL (or one of her 4 sisters) is going to be famous someday - they have auditioned for American Idol (she was, like, 8 3/4 months pregnant at the time...). Oh, and I've met Mickey Mouse! More than once! ;)

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  36. Ran into the Dalai Lama in Portland a number of years ago. I was on the sidewalk passing the entrance to a hotel parking garage when his limo pulled into the driveway. Traffic paused for a minute and he turned to look out the window and gave my friend and I a head nod and what can only be described as a Dalai Lama-esque wave of the hand. Unforgettable...

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  37. I really like the Emergen-C with zinc - also they make "lite" versions with a little less sugar. They actually taste good and can be a nice change from tea. I take them with me when I travel, it's nice that you can use them in cold or hot water depending on your mood. Good call on the warnings though, I think it might be a bit much for someone who eats luna bars or other supplemental nutrition bars.

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  38. LOVE Emergen~C! Trader Joes sells it now too!

    Name drop...so many to drop!! Here you go..
    I lived in the Bay area and grew up in LA so I have seen A LOT and lived
    near Andre Agassi/Stephi Graf, Sean Penn (he groecery shopped where I did, Yes, he does his own grocery shopping!!) Carlos Santana, Lars Ulrich of Metallica (ate at the same sushi place as we did)
    Sammy Hagar....(my husband was the UPS man of all of the above as well)

    Grace Slick,Sharon Stone, Fonzie of Happy Days!!, Barry Manilow and Rita Moreno, John Corbett of Sex in the City (his band played at my friends Christmas Pary their home) he is a Big time partier that guy!!, Peter Gabriel...
    oh, I may think of some others. I will get back to you on this! Fun memories!

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    1. Do you live in Marin? I do, and share a lot of your list above. In fact, my son has Sammy Hagar's son's outgrown leather jacket. My old neighbor was their cleaning lady.....

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    2. I lived in Marin for 20 years!! It's such a small world there..we may just know one another...!!

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  39. Vitamin C is a precursor to the body's manufacture of collagen, a vital component of tendon health. More athletes should be taking more Vit C for this reason alone.

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  40. girl, i used to be the supplement queen. But then Dr. Oz freaked my freak by saying too much anti-oxidants were bad!! and then I realize i was overdosing on Vitamin A! That's why my hair was thinning so much. Bottom line, that emergen-C aint no good. get your vitamins and nutrients from your food. too much of even a good thing is bad news

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  41. I taught in a particularly germy preschool several years ago and was sick for literally 6 months straight- I'd get over one cold/virus, then get a new one a day later. I drank Airborne every day and was just as sick as I was when I wasn't drinking it. However, I've been sick significantly less often now that I've been taking a regular multivitamin every day!

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  42. How funny I just took one this afternoon. Everyone in my house was super sick so I bought some and chugged away, 2 packets a day what it recommends on the package. I didn't get sick and everyone else did. Who knows if that's why or not but I'll take my chances with it!

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  43. What a timely entry for me... this morning I woke up with a runny nose and scratchy throat (just 3 days out from a half marathon... of course). My first instinct was to run downstairs and pop Airborne, my anti-cold drug of choice. I've been popping it at the first sign of a cold for years and it seems to work most of the time. Honestly, I think it's 95% mental, but I'll do whatever works!!

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  44. Placebo effect or not I put a package in my smoothy in the morning when I'm feeling rundown or need a vitamin C boost . I use to buy Emergen-C but they were purchase by Pfizer and I try not to buy from crazy corporate companies like that. Any way I now buy Ener-C http://tryenerc.com/ . I like the taste better. I found it online as nobody was carrying it near me. https://nicevits.com/

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