The ailing health of the ­nation has helped Fisherman's Friend haul in a record sales growth for December, according to the 145-year-old company.

Sales of the lozenge brand were up 28.7% in the past month compared with December 2009, marking an all-time sales peak.

Martin Stimson, area business manager for the brand's UK operation, put the performance down to a particularly nasty cold season and increased advertising.

"Last year, Fisherman's Friend screened its first TV campaign in 14 years and during the 2010-11 winter season the company will spend more than £750,000 in repeating the national TV campaign," he said.

Fisherman's Friend last experienced such a spike in demand in November 2009 when the lozenge's pure aniseed ingredient was revealed to also be a component in the swine flu treatment Tamiflu.