Putting HeadOn To The Test
November 6, 2007, 8:39 AM
Odds are you've seen the commercial that repeats the phrase HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead" over and over, which may have you wondering whether the over-the-counter product really works.
Headaches are a problem faced by most of us. In fact, studies show that roughly 45 million Americans suffer from them each year. Chronic headaches strike one out of every six people. Research also shows that each year close to ten million people visit their doctor seeking some sort of relief from the pain. But surprisingly, not everybody gets headaches.
Around 10 percent of men don't have them. Neither do about 5 percent of all women.
The television commercial alone is enough to give you a headache.
Lisa Ihler, who tried HeadOn says, "I saw it on TV and I figured it's just some stupid product they're coming out with."
But shake that phrase out of your head and you're likely to look beyond the low budget commercial message and wonder whether the stuff even works.
Dr. Jerome Freeman, Sanford Clinic Neurology says, "I am unaware of any specific theory of why it works, so much as the contention is made that it does work and that it's helped many people.”
The active ingredient, potassium bichromate, is an oxidizing agent which is among other things is used in developing photographs. In high enough quantities it can irritate the skin and is known to cause cancer. So could "Head On" be dangerous?
Freeman says, "I asked a clinical pharmacologist this and she thought it highly unlikely there would be any serious adverse response to these ingredients."
According to the product's label those ingredients offer "headache relief." Yet you may have noticed that the commercial no longer mentions that. That's because last year, the Better Business Bureau announced that "The company failed to provide any reliable clinical testing to support it's claims."
Yet an online blog known as "The Daily Headache" lists the comments of eleven fans of "Head On". But to be fair, the site also includes more than 30 comments from people who find it's commercial both irritating and annoying.
Christy Burrows who tried HeadOn says, "The commercial actually looks a little bit---I don't know---cheesy, I guess.”
Could getting rid of a headache be as simple as taking a swipe across your forehead?
That's the claim of the makers of HeadOn. At the very least its commercial is unforgettable. But is the product itself reliable?
It's shaped like chapstick. And it smells like something your mother used to rub on your chest when you had a cold. But will our three testers find the headache relief they seek in HeadOn? You're about to find out.
Twenty-four-year-old Lisa Ihler spends her days scanning computer files for printing projects. She says, "I get headaches...it seems like always in the afternoon, maybe like every other day or so."
Forty-four-year-old Jodi Keller spends hers filing through medical records. She says, "I can just get a headache for no reason at all."
And 30-year-old Christy Burrows' day is filled filing after her four girls. She says, "It's a really strong, dull ache all day long."
Two of the three had seen HeadOn's commercial.
Only Keller remained blissfully unaware of it. Yet all three women agreed to be our medical guinea pigs, if you will, to test the product for us.
Ihler says, "I figured I give it a try."
Burrows says, "I know that I have sinus problems, so anything is worth a try at this point because I'm so tired of suffering from it."
Keller says, "It's just like I would try anything so I don't have to put medicine in my body."
Instead HeadOn users are asked to apply the product directly to their forehead. Oh, but you probably knew that already from the commercial.
Dr. Jerome Freeman, Sanford Clinic Neurology says, "There are several ingredients. There is something called white bryony, and blue flag, and potassium bichromate, and golden seal and sublime sulfur."
All in minute amounts
Freeman says, "This is not regulated by the FDA. This is not a prescription preparation."
It's also not backed by clinical research.
Freeman says, "I don't know that there's any scientific evidence, there isn't, that any of these agents alone or together would relieve a headache."
As for our unscientific findings, one says, "yes."
Keller says, "I just thought it was great and I have told other people about it, too, because I felt it was good."
One says "no.”
Ihler says, "I put it on and maybe 15 minutes later it would go away for a little bit, but not long. Maybe 20 minutes, half an hour at the most."
And one says, "maybe."
Burrows says, "It's about the same, but it is a little more convenient."
At around eight dollars a tube, HeadOn costs about the same as what you'll pay for a bottle of 100 aspirin or Tylenol.
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