Thursday, January 31, 2013

Danish pain-relief phobia

(Lemsip is a  lemon-flavoured hot drink  containing 650 mg of paracetamol (an analgesic), and 10 mg phenylephrine hydrochloride (a decongestant) to help to relieve headache, fever, blocked nose, body aches and pains and a sore throat.   It is widely used in Britain.

Danish caution is understandable as big doses of paracetamol (Tylenol)  can be fatal.  Lemsip alone is not dangerous but when taken along with other remedies -- such as Tylenol in capsule  form -- it can be a problem.

Danish bans would be better replaced by an emphasis on aspirin, which is much less life-threatening)

It starts with a sniffle. The kind that makes you annoying to sit next to at the cinema but isn’t enough to knock you sideways on the sofa with Kleenex and a boxset. Being a hardy Brit, I carry on, uncomplaining, until the temperature drops to minus nine.

The following morning I have sand running through my veins and drumming monkeys in my head.

“Must. Find. Lemsip,” I moan as I rifle through the last of our boxes to be unpacked from the UK. Locating the yellow and green packet, I give it a shake. Empty.

“Oh, I think I used the last one,” a voice shouts from the shower, “sorry!”

I turn on the hot tap for a few seconds until I hear shrieking sounds, then swaddle up to go in search of medicine.

The Danglish (Danish/English) speaking assistant in my local supermarket says she can’t help.

“No medicine here, only these,” she says, proffering a packet of what look like mint humbugs.

“What are they?”

“Sick sweets,” she tells me.

“How appetising…”

I take them anyway and experience a tingling feeling in my mouth before it goes completely numb. My throat, head and body still ache but for an hour, I can’t even moan about it.

Once I can feel my face again, I head to a chemist.

A kindly looking woman in square black Scandi-issue glasses nods sympathetically when I describe my symptoms.

“So do you sell Ibuprofen?”


“Cough syrup?”

She shakes her head.


She smiles and places a tiny packet on the counter, just enough to soothe the temperature of a smallish hamster.

“Can I buy more?”


“Should I see a doctor?”

“The doctor will tell you to drink hot tea and get hygge with candles.”

My doctor will prescribe cosiness and tea lights? Trying not to cry, I leave.

It’s snowing so hard outside that it feels like someone’s throwing pins at my face. I hear the crunch of moon boots on grit behind me and a girl’s voice calls out.

“Are you English?”


“Thought so.” Her accent isn’t Danish but I can’t place it. “You’re new around here, right?”


“Are you looking for some,” she lowers her voice: “Lemsip?”

I tell her I am and she beckons me over.

“I can get you Vapour Rub too if you’re interested. And vitamin C and caffeine pills.”

My new friend explains that she’s German and heading over the border tomorrow to see family and stock up on winter medicines.

“I normally bring a few things back. Strepsils for the Brits. Fibre supplements and Pepto-Bismol for the Americans, that sort of thing.”

Delighted to have stumbled into the Al Capone of cold and flu remedies, I tell her I’ll take pretty much anything Beecham’s has to offer.

“How much Vicks do you want? 100 grams?”

“Done. And maybe some Night Nurse.”

“Good choice. That stuff’s like crack round here.”

She slips me a single Lemsip sachet that she keeps handy in her satchel for an instant hit and we agree to meet in three days’ time.

“Stay warm and dry and I’ll be back as soon as I can,” my new dealer whispers conspiratorially as she disappears into the snow.

From my sickbed back at home, I discover that I’m not alone in my quest for cold and flu drugs in Denmark. The British Chamber of Commerce website recommends visitors stock up before coming over and there are whole forums dedicated to getting your hands on Hall’s Soothers.

Over-the-counter medicines are only sold in pharmacies here and the pickings are slim. You won’t find medicine for migraines and for anything stronger than Panadol you’ll need a doctor. The Danes are strict about what they put in their bodies and even food supplements are considered borderline medicines.

Breakfast cereals with added vitamins were banned in 2004 and the year before last, Marmite was made illegal. Yes, that’s right, yeast spread and Cheerios are contraband in Denmark. No wonder Lemsip’s so counter revolutionary.

So now I wait, surrounded by candles and cups of ginger tea, until supplies arrive. And I’m not sharing my last Lemsip with anyone.


Must they condemn what they also subsidize?

Obesity is said to be a huge problem, and as I pointed out the other day, public policy experts are calling for overweight people to be stigmatized. Never mind that such stigmatization flies in the face of official policies, or that the stigma would fall heaviest on racial minorities.

But that’s old stuff. We are being ruled by emotional activists who cannot seem to make up their minds, so their whims are subject to change depending on how they feel.

What intrigued me today was the claim that I keep seeing over and over again, that a major reason poor people are fat is because regular food costs more than fast food.

It often costs money to eat healthily. Cheap calories tend to come in the form of fast food, candies, cakes, processed foods and the like. Other experts have postulated that poorer Americans tend to be more sedentary than their wealthier counterparts. If you’re worried about putting any food on the table or making next month’s rent, there may not be much in the way of disposable income or time to join or use a gym or health club.

I disagree completely. It costs me nothing to do my 120 pushups, my 40-50 chinups, or to run, and that (plus a reasonably heart-healthy diet) is how I keep more or less in shape. As to the idea that fast food is cheaper than regular food, this claim has been repeatedly debunked. Rather than quote from the piece, I thought I’d let the graphics speak for themselves:

Another claim the lefties like to make is that regular food is not available where poor people live. Not only is this not the case in most cities, but even in Detroit (where you would expect stores to have been abandoned), there are in fact full service grocery stores all over the place. This claim that they are not there was also debunked in detail at the Huffington Post.

Unfortunately, no amount of debunking will kill popular narratives that people want to believe, because such is the nature of the human beast. I certainly can’t say much that others haven’t.

But on the issue of fast food, I did stumble onto a fascinating factoid. Under the Obama administration, those EBT cards (you know, the electronic debit cards that have replaced food stamps are being increasingly allowed in the same evil fast food restaurants said to be responsible for the obesity epidemic!

I kid you not. Here’s a remarkable graphic from the piece about Detroit:

There has been opposition to this (largely unreported) new trend mainly among natural food types, and this article is downright angry in tone:

(NaturalNews) Soviet-style government food distribution is quickly becoming standard practice in the rapidly decaying United States of America, with more than 20 percent of Americans now participating in the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. And if the fast food industry gets its way, food stamps may soon cover buckets of fried chicken at KFC and Meximelts at Taco Bell.

Food stamp benefits have more than doubled within the past six years, skyrocketing from $28.5 billion in 2005 to $64.7 billion in 2010. With this rise came the addition of 53,000 newly eligible businesses as well, which included convenience stores, dollar discount stores, and even gas stations. And now the fast food industry wants a piece of the pie, too.

According to a recent report in USA Today, Louisville, Ky. based Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver restaurant, and Pizza Hut, is lobbying the federal government to permit SNAP enrollees to use food stamps at their restaurants. And they claim doing so will help prevent hunger.

But many in opposition are decrying the proposition as ridiculous, and a blatant misuse of public funds in support of junk foods rather than health foods.

This is almost comical. It would be downright funny but for the fact that the country is going broke, and the same people who are pushing fast food on the poor are also subjecting everyone else to a major ongoing national harangue.

So much as I try to be rational, rationality is wasted on people who believe that “Emotions are what really count in this world.

If only there were a way to get them to just shut up.


1 comment:

Wireless.Phil said...

But what about the fuel needed to cook the real food and what about the time to prepare it?

No, I haven't eaten any junk food in over 10 years.