Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Hhhmmm, tastes like Strepsils

This crazy colds we get when Winter strikes are so annoying. I have been having loads of work to do in the lab, basically working 7 out of 7 days a week, and never less that 10-12 hours a day. Call me crazy, call me what you will, but if I had a choice believe me I wouldn't be that hectic in the workplace. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, but there is a moment you need to live your life otherwise you're just a programmed machine. It is actually dangerous for the immune system to skip sleep hours in detriment of hard work and constant worrying about things. I have had to resort to hardcore (well, not so hardcore) chemicals to keep me going. It was like I was shooting stars with a gunfire; I had shells of Paracetamol, Mebocaine, Hot Toddies, Strepsils, Dispersible Aspirin, Brufen, yyyyyyaaaaaaaaa! I was a God Damn 'Boots' Cowboy in a rampage!

But then it stroke me that most of the time we just take these things and we never even consider what we're taking. We rely so much on those who do their regulatory work, working on the affairs of regulation, that we take for granted the million things we ingest for boosting up and fight the viruses, headaches and all the other ailments Winter offers us as an ongoing Xmas wrap.

So I decided to start looking a little closer to those substances and post short comments on the many chemicals compounds, artificial or natural, that we are accepting in our lives, day in day out. To start with, shall we analyse together the so famous Strepsils® Honey and Lemon Lozenges. We all take them, I honestly don't even know what they're for, if you give them to me I'll chew them like candy. But what are we taking when chewing in one of these?

Name: Strepsils® (Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare International, Hull, UK) Honey and Lemon Lozenges
Aim: Soothing effective relief for sore throats.
Active ingredients: 

2,4-Dichlorobenzyl alcohol (1.2mg) - a mild antiseptic antibiotic.
Molecular Formula Cl2C6H3CH2OH Molecular Weight 177.03 g/mol
Not a hazardous substance according to the material data safety sheet from Sigma-Aldrich.

Amylmetacresol (0.6 mg) - antiseptic to treat mouth and throat infections. [2]
Molecular Formula C12H18O   Molecular Weight 178.27072 g/mol
Corrosive only at high concentrations according to Chemical Dictionary Online.

Along with metacresol and at low pH, 2,4-Dichlorobenzyl alcohol is efficient in the inactivation of three respiratory viruses of distinct families, i.e., Influenza, respiratory synctial virus (RSV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). At 37C it destroys the virus in less than 2 minutes of contact by causing a mild denaturation of the protein spikes of the viruses. However, 2,4-Dichlorobenzyl alcohol is not effective against virus with icosahedral symmetry like adenoviruses or rhinoviruses. [1]

OK, now we know what we are sucking on. The rest of the bullet is basically lemon (very good with Tequilla shots) and Honey (very good for basically everything)! I hope you have found this piece of information useful and that in the future you can find time to suggest a few other x-rays to pharmaceuticals we have regularly in our shelves. See you very soon, cheers!

[1] Oxford, J. S., Lambkin, R., Gibb, I., Balasingam, S., Chan, C., Catchpole, A. (2005). "A throat lozenge containing amyl meta cresol and dichlorobenzyl alcohol has a direct virucidal effect on respiratory syncytial virus, influenza A and SARS-CoV". Antiviral Chemistry and Chemotherapy, 16, pp. 129-134.

[2] McNally, D., Simpson, M., Morris, C., Shephard, A., Goulder, M. (2010). "Rapid relief of acute sore throat with AMC/DCBA throat lozenges: randomised control trial". The International Journal of Clinical Practice, 64(2), pp.194-207.

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