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Recently, I had the mother of all coughs, this one being particularly deep and chesty, with the result that I felt drained of energy after each frequent coughing bout. I don't usually bother with over the counter medicines as I think they are largely ineffective, merely a placebo, but on this occasion my six year old son had started coughing too, so I went along to the pharmacy in our local Tesco to look for something which would be suitable for both of us.
From the plethora of potions available, I came up with Veno's Expectorant for chesty coughs, which is made by Beechams, part of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies. I chose this one because it can be taken by both adults and children, and, because it came in a brightly coloured, predominantly orange box, I presumed it would have an orange taste and therefore be pleasant enough for my son to take without causing a fuss.
I was wrong, however. When I got home and looked at the ingredients carefully, I found it contained guaifenesin ( for breaking up phlegm), liquid glucose and treacle, both of which apparently soothe the throat. It also contains a number of other ingredients, among them aniseed oil, liquorice aniseed flavour and caramel colour. No mention of orange flavouring then!
The medicine comes with a 10ml measuring cup ( the adult dosage), however, I prefer to use a spoon. Bravely then, for my son was watching, I took the plunge, declaring ''Oh, it tastes lovely!'' whilst at the same time grimacing inwardly. I don't particularly care for treacle anyway, but this was a dreadful taste. The liquorice and aniseed were very strong and although the medicine contains a small amount of sugar, for me personally, it could have done with some more. It left a bitter aftertaste too, and I knew I was on a hiding to nothing if I thought my son was going to take his spoonful.
Sure enough, virtually as soon as the stuff touched his lips, he was spitting it out, with the result that my white T shirt was now splattered with dark brown stains. The colour was another off putting factor for him, and like many children, his mind was made up before he'd even tasted it. The leaflet says it can be given to children as young as 3, but I doubt you'd have much luck with many children, let alone this age group. To be perfectly fair though, it doesn't advertise itself as a childrens' medicine, so I guess it's my fault for not checking the ingredients carefully enough before buying.
The medicine comes in a 100ml bottle, and although it is descibed as a syrup, I found it a bit runny. It did, I have to admit, have an immediate soothing effect on my throat and left a warm glow for a while afterwards, but as to whether it lives up to its claim to loosen phlegm, in my case I'm afraid there was very little effect. You have to repeat the dose every 2-3 hours, but with the awful taste, you have to steel yourself with a boiled sweet at the ready for afterwards.
On the basis of the taste, I would have to say that I wouldn't recommend this medicine, especially for children, but if you don't mind the combination of treacle, aniseed and liquorice, then I suppose it's worth a try.