About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« What's With Those People at Elsevier, Anyway? | Main | Eli Lilly Gives It Away »

June 26, 2009

Snort Yourself Some Zinc. Or Maybe Not.

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

I missed commenting on this earlier, but many readers may have noticed the recent scandal caused by Zicam. This is a cold remedy which was sold as a homeopathic medicine, but its makers committed the unforgivable sin of actually having something in its formula besides well-shaken distilled water.

A lot of people are convinced that zinc is good for colds - I'm agnostic, having not seen much convincing evidence - so if that's the case, why not snort zinc up your nose? That, at any rate, seems to be the condensed version of the Zicam pitch, although I don't believe that they used that exact wording in their ads. (A gift for advertising copy might not be one of my more robust talents. . .) At any rate, snorting zinc salts has actually been known, for some time now, to injure the sense of smell in some people. So it's proved with Zicam, with several hundred victims.

The moral? If you're going to sell homeopathic medicine - and boy, is it a lucrative business - make sure that you don't put anything in there except sterile water. That'll cut down on your expenses, too, since most ingredients cost more than water, anyway. Stick with that strategy, and you can be absolutely sure that nothing bad will happen to your customers. Nothing good will happen to them either, but they won't know that. When their cold/headache/whatever goes away of its own accord, they'll ascribe it to your miracle product. Sit back and profit! Be sure to thank Senator Hatch while you count your money, though - it's only proper.

Comments (134) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Regulatory Affairs | Snake Oil


1. Anonymous on June 26, 2009 8:08 AM writes...

Maybe this will bring some light to the scam that is homeopathic medicine. Here in NYC they sell Zicam right next to NyQuil, and to the untrained eye they look identical. It's absurd.

Permalink to Comment

2. John Thacker on June 26, 2009 8:19 AM writes...

Nothing good will happen to them either, but they won't know that.

Not entirely true. They may get a genuinely beneficial placebo effect.

Permalink to Comment

3. Chemoptoplex on June 26, 2009 8:35 AM writes...

"Stick with that strategy, and you can be absolutely sure that nothing bad will happen to your customers"

Not necessarily

But seriously, in a world where Cheerios get taken to task by the FDA for suggesting it "may reduce cholesterol", how can Zicam keep up their positive claim of "Actually shortens the Cold"?

Permalink to Comment

4. Sili on June 26, 2009 8:43 AM writes...

Apparently there was some good science behind the hypothesis. Unfortunately it didn't pan out.

Permalink to Comment

5. Kismet on June 26, 2009 9:02 AM writes...

Yeah, zinc may really work after all if it's formulated as acetate or gluconate. Did anyone take a look at the following study? Any methodological or other flaws?

BTW, Sili, I don't get why *oral* administration damages the olfactory neuroepithelium of rats? I don't remember that lozenges were ever reported to have side-effects on smell in humans(it does not even make sense).

Duration and severity of symptoms and levels of plasma interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor, and adhesion molecules in patients with common cold treated with zinc acetate.
Prasad AS, Beck FW, Bao B, Snell D, Fitzgerald JT.
J Infect Dis. 2008 Mar 15;197(6):795-802.

Permalink to Comment

6. Chemjobber on June 26, 2009 9:22 AM writes...

I was also confused by the homeopathic part, but Wikipedia sez that it has zinc gluconate AND homeopathic garbage in it. So it was the real amounts of zinc that did the damage...

Permalink to Comment

7. Old Timer on June 26, 2009 9:28 AM writes...

I guess I don't buy enough cold medicine. I have seen Zicam right next to other medications and never noticed it was a homeopathic medication! Although, some of the other "non-homeopathic" medications make me wonder...

Permalink to Comment

8. Kathy on June 26, 2009 9:29 AM writes...

In 1988, I had a severe sinus infection and lost my sense of smell for about two years. I had never heard of Zicam. How do we know which patients developed anosmia from Zicam and which would have developed it anyway, AND which will eventually have their sense of smell return? (Just to stir the pot )

Permalink to Comment

9. Cloud on June 26, 2009 10:57 AM writes...

Kathy- we do sizable, well-designed clinical studies with controls. Which the makers of Zicam didn't have to do because they were selling their product as a supplement not a drug.

Permalink to Comment

10. Badger on June 26, 2009 11:38 AM writes...

Is there anything on the packaging that says whether a product is regulated by the FDA?

Permalink to Comment

11. Cellbio on June 26, 2009 12:13 PM writes...

Kismet, I took a quick look, and saw that the treated group had 6/25 subjects that were smokers, the placebo had 9/25. I would say that is a flaw, small study too. The impact on serum levels of anit-inflammatory molecules is slight at best. A quick search showed the lead author, Prasad, publishes a bit on the role of zinc in immune cell function. The work seems fine, but of course the bias inherent in publishing favors positive results, so I looked for additiona work. Haven't read in detail, but here is an abstract:

Zinc and the Common Cold: A Meta-Analysis Revisited1
Jeffrey L. Jackson*2, Emil Lesho and Cecily Peterson

* Department of Medicine–Educational Programs, Bethesda, MD 20814, Department of Primary Care, Internal Medicine Service, U.S. Army Medical Activity, Heidelberg, Germany and Department of Medicine, Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA 98431

2To whom correspondence and reprint request should be addressed.

The common cold has been estimated to cost the United States > $3.5 billion per year. Despite several randomized clinical trials, the effect of treating colds with zinc gluconate remains uncertain due to conflicting results. We conducted a meta-analysis of published randomized clinical trials on the use of zinc gluconate lozenges in colds using the random effects model of DerSimonians and Laird. Ten clinical trials of cold treatment with zinc gluconate were identified. After excluding two studies that used nasal inoculum of rhinovirus, eight trials were combined and analyzed. The summary odds ratio for the presence of "any cold symptoms" at 7 d was 0.52 (95% confidence interval, 0.25–1.2). We conclude that despite numerous randomized trials, the evidence for effectiveness of zinc lozenges in reducing the duration of common colds is still lacking.

Permalink to Comment

12. Kismet on June 26, 2009 12:48 PM writes...

I'm also worried by the funding from "George and Patsy Eby Foundation" Eby et al. heavily promote zinc as a treatment for the common cold judging by their homepage. Other than that I think it's a neat study published in a pretty good journal. Maybe we should rather focus on ICAM than on inflammatory markers anyway..

The old meta-analysis is actually promising, isn't it? The result is right there, the CI only needs to be narrowed down but this may be due to a lack of power (?) Maybe if it was redone with the current data it'd be significant... I'm not sure if that proves anything if we consider publication bias, but it's a good start.

Permalink to Comment

13. Cellbio on June 26, 2009 1:38 PM writes...

Not sure what your are seeing in the ICAM data. Control group of healthy volunteers have 248 (+/- 83 pg/ml), compared to placebo, 227 +/- 149 before, 229 +/- 114 after treatment; Zinc treated cohort, 285 +/- 162 before, after zinc is 229 +/- 144. Same values of ICAM at the end of treatment period with or without zinc. Takes a special interpretation for the data to support an conclusion of treatment effect here. Probably just noise, but the pretreatment difference in ICAM should first be an indication that the groups are different before being accepted as the basis for a higher percentage drop.

I don't see any promise in the meta-analysis. Maybe I am missing soemthing. If power is lacking, and the CI covers 1.0, power may just confirm a lack of effect. No?

Permalink to Comment

14. Kismet on June 26, 2009 2:28 PM writes...

I'm not sure if it matters that the ICAM results are similar to the control or placebo group afterwards. Isn't the significant change within group more interesting? Although, you're right that the change is small and variation high so it could be noise or it might be clinically insignificant (or maybe it's something like regression to the mean).

I'm not really into statistics but I thought that if you combine many studies with a wide CI (which are not significant on their own) you can eventually narrow it down to something significant if there is a real effect? I assumed maybe the meta-analysis failed because of "not enough [quality] data" and if you add the recent study you should get closer to a CI

Permalink to Comment

15. Kismet on June 26, 2009 2:33 PM writes...

The last sentence should say "close to a CI ‹1"

Permalink to Comment

16. bbartlog on June 26, 2009 3:46 PM writes...

Nice of you to notice that not all homeopathic medicines are not in fact merely water. Of course, the link you provide (titled 'unforgivable sin' for some inexplicable reason) actually points out that qualifying as 'homeopathic' means that something is listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia, not that it's (necessarily) something diluted to the point of being indistinguishable from water. If you were curious, this might lead you to wondering: what portion of homeopathic medicines actually have active ingredients? How many of them are there that have effects (beyond the placebo effect)? But no, we'll stumble over this inconvenient factoid, update our worldview to note that homeopathic medicines include water *and a zinc solution*, and be none the wiser.
FWIW I consider homeopathy a branch of folk medicine. Prior to the advent of antibiotics, the fact that most of its prescriptions are placebos may actually have made it a better bet than mainstream medicine. Even today some of its remedies may well be effective (the diluted ones are often not diluted to the point of being water-equivalent).

Permalink to Comment

17. Cellbio on June 26, 2009 4:44 PM writes...


I guess the answer to your question is I don't know if the greatest importance is level related to starting point (intragroup delta) vs. comparison across groups, but it appears to me the small difference here can be explained by randomness as well as effect. Further, the strongest effect seen is an elevation of IL-1ra with placebo. This indicates that the variation in levels one day to the next may be all that the study is measuring. The authors suggest that IL-1ra levels rise because of ongoing inflammation which is held in check by zinc in the treated group. Could be true, but not proven.

BTW, thanks for the dicsussion, makes me look more closley at the data. I see in the symptoms table, what appears to drive the difference in cold symptoms is not headache or fever (IL-1 related), but cough, sore throat and nasal discharge. I wonder if the real driver of impacts on symptoms is related to the mechanism behind loss of smell. Is it all neurological and has nothing to do with immunology, inflammation or viral entry and reproduction?

If that is the case, why not use good old phenol to denature your nerve endings? or if you prefer brand names, buy Chloraseptic, 1.4% phenol.

Permalink to Comment

18. Anonymous on June 26, 2009 9:27 PM writes...

Stephen Colbert had a little news item on Zicam. Apparently, the guy who owns the parent company got his Ph.D. from some American University of something in Spain in the late nineties and then got his Bachelors degree from some other no name university five years later (note the order).

Zicam was also one of Rush Limbaugh sponsors, so Rush is going around saying that Zicam is being unfairly targeted by Democrats. The conservatives were always a bit looney with their rhetoric but seem to be going completely insane now.

Permalink to Comment

19. srp on June 26, 2009 10:00 PM writes...

I used Zicam once or twice (in lozenge form). It's a great placebo at least--it kind of feels like it's doing something up in your nose and throat and it tastes just a little bit bad so you feel like it's medicine.

Permalink to Comment

20. Kismet on June 27, 2009 7:02 AM writes...

This brings us back to the question I asked after checking the Silli's link (
"BTW, Sili, I don't get why *oral* administration damages the olfactory neuroepithelium of rats? I don't remember that lozenges were ever reported to have side-effects on smell in humans(it does not even make sense)."
I may have to read the full paper to find out, though...

I don't know what mechanism of action you imagine? A systemic neurlogical or a local neurological effect? I don't think that ~80mg zinc can reach neurotoxic levels (leading to a loss of smell) via the systemic route (i.e. blood; many crazy bodybuilders have been taking 100mg/d for quite some time; IDK any side-effects related to smell), but only if it comes into contact with the nerves -- then again, how is oral zinc supposed to reach the olfactory nerves? Or does it as indicted by the rat study?

I thought if there was a neurotoxicity problem it would be rather related to the sense of taste when administered orally and in fact it seems that taste related side-effects are reported slightly and not-significantly more often in the treatment group.

Permalink to Comment

21. CM on June 27, 2009 9:04 PM writes...

The lawsuit concerns Zicam nasal spray.

Permalink to Comment

22. Anonymous BMS Researcher on June 27, 2009 11:03 PM writes...

As one who is very familiar with what the FDA expects from us pharma companies as evidence to back up our label claims, I rather resent the way purveyors of supplements manage to IMPLY drug-like properties without quite making actual claims. I have the background than enables me to tell the difference by reading the fine print with its standard weasel-word disclaimers ("not intended to cure or treat any disease, not evaluated by the FDA," etc.), but how can the average consumer distinguish between a drug and a product whose packaging is carefully designed to resemble that of a drug without QUITE saying it is a drug?

Permalink to Comment

23. LouHom on June 28, 2009 5:20 AM writes...

Zicam is not really a homeopathic product. Everyone seems to be confused and in error about this. The Zinc gluconate is at a 2x potency which is almost a material dose of Zinc gluconate. It is like sniffing the zinc up your nose. 2x means that the zinc gluconate has had 9 drops added to it, shaken. Then one drop of that has had a further 9 drops added and shaken. It has only been potentised twice and at 1 to 9 (i.e. the decimal potency, rather than the centesimal potency - 1 to 100 normally used for homeopathic preparations).

So yes, people were sniffing zinc gluconate in a fairly undiluted form which would possibly cause harm.

Normally homeopathic products are at least a 6x potency. Bach flower essences (i.e. Rescue Remedy, etc.) are all 5x potencies but they are made from flower essences and so fairly harmless.

Permalink to Comment

24. Jose on June 28, 2009 8:20 AM writes...

"Then one drop of that has had a further 9 drops added and shaken. It has only been potentised twice and at 1 to 9"

Oil of liverwort! Spleen of shrew! I potentise three through and through!

Permalink to Comment

25. Chemjobber on June 28, 2009 1:40 PM writes...

Anonymous BMS researcher is exactly right: I can't count the number of supplements (including ZICAM, Enzyte's another) that have adopted the advertising/marketing look and feel to attempt to piggyback on the reputation of larger pharma.

Permalink to Comment

26. Michael Geer on June 28, 2009 2:11 PM writes...

Derek, you disappoint me.

ZICAM is in no way a homeopathic regardless of what the company states or how you label it.

Geez, no wonder politics and the news are dumber than a sack of hammers if RESPONSIBLE people have no idea what IS homeopathic and WHAT IS NOT.

You really should apologize for Stepford Parroting of a false line of BS.

Permalink to Comment

27. TC on June 28, 2009 2:12 PM writes...

I'm looking at a box of Zicam GelSwabs right now. The word homeopathic is printed in small letters on the front lower right of the box and on the center bottom of the left and right sides. On the back, in the "Drug Facts" section, the word homeopathic is not used.

Active ingredient: Zincum Gluconicum 2x
Purpose: Reduces duration and severity of common cold

Inactive ingredients: benzalkonium chloride, glycerin, hydroxyethylcellulose, purified water, sodium chloride, sodium hydroxide.

Permalink to Comment

28. Anna Keppa on June 28, 2009 2:31 PM writes...

" Rush is going around saying that Zicam is being unfairly targeted by Democrats."

"The conservatives were always a bit looney with their rhetoric but seem to be going completely insane now."

It's...interesting.... to see, amidst references to scientific studies ostensibly following strict rules of evidence and inference in a good-faith attempt to arrive at valid conclusions, a comment that parses thusly:

" Rush is going around saying that Zicam is being unfairly targeted by Democrats."

---- Incorrect. What Limbaugh said is that some liberals were making a big deal of the issue BECAUSE he was a Zicam sponsor. Colbert is an example. Ipse dixit.

"Conservatives were always a bit looney with their rhetoric. ---

----a generalized claim here supported only by the alleged statement of one person, Limbaugh. BZZZTT!!!

This is a statement that can easily be countered with references to over-heated liberal rhetoric, such as "the planet has a fever".

"[Conservatives] seem to be going completely insane now."

----another generalized claim here supported only by the alleged statement of one person, Limbaugh, on one issue, implying that conservatives are "going insane" on all issues, that none of their positions on issues are rational.

Here's your sillygism:

Rush is a conservative.

Rush offered an insane opinion.

THEREFORE, all conservatives are insane on all opinions.

"Highly illogical, Captain".

---- Spock

I certainly hope Anonymous is not a scientist or (shudder) physician.

Permalink to Comment

29. Anonymous on June 28, 2009 2:47 PM writes...

Sorry Anna Keppa - judging by Limbaugh's popularity, it is safe to say that his views represent that of a sizeable # of conservatives.

Stephen Colbert is not a liberal. He supported Bush for his first and second term but didnt support McCain. I think he just couldnt digest the thought of Palin being VP.

So ya, most conservatives are a bunch of morons and Rush is their spokesperson and he did say that "Democrats" (not liberals) were unfairly targeting Zicam.

Permalink to Comment

30. Michael Geer on June 28, 2009 3:31 PM writes...

Well, how about that?

Product labeling makes a thing so.

Wow. (head slap) Cheerios cures heart disease, the check's in the mail and etc.

Let's turn to a classically trained professional homeopath, trained the classical Hahnemann tradition.


I have previously mentioned that the company that produces Zicam is not a homeopathic pharmacy. This is a company attempting to use a so called "homeopathic" preparation to market their product without regulation. The dispensing method of "Zicam" is not classically homeopathic nor are the uses of the other ingredients that is used to suspended the Zinc that they have diluted into a 3x potency. I believe the other ancillary ingredients are the culprit in the causation of the symptoms of "loss of smell" by the victims of this product and not the homeopathically prepared mineral Zinc. Homeopathically prepared Zinc has no side effects and is not administered in a nasal spray as we all know.

As homeopathy gains popularity, it's detractors find many and sundry ways to cast false aspersions. It is important to immediately speak out on every slanderous report intended to debunk homeopathy. This ZICAM affair is just another in a long trail of ignorance and willful injury to classical, proven and effective homeopathy.

In gratitude for your courageous response,

Dr. Nancy Gahles

Dr. Nancy Gahles
Doctor of Chiropractic (DC)
Certified Classical Homeopath ( CCH)
Registered, Society of Homeopaths, North America ( RSHom, NA)

Executive Director, Health & Harmony Wellness Education

President, National Center for Homeopathy
Expert: Ask The Experts, Mothering magazine, Natural
Columnist: The Wave newspaper, Homeopathy Today
Advisory Board,

Permalink to Comment

31. Buffy Pittman on June 28, 2009 3:34 PM writes...

I completely lost my sense of smell because I snorted too much Zycam fighting a cold. It felt like my nose was on fire, then the stuffiness just didn't go away.

I was astonished at how awful loosing one's sense of smell is. Food tastes like styrafoam. Plus no smelling the wysteria in my yard, no smelling a man, no smelling a gas leak, no smelling if I'd washed properly -- on and on.

Thank God after a few months my nose recovered. I later read zinc is put up the nose of lab animals to kill their sense of smell.

I never reported this to the FDA, btw.

Permalink to Comment

32. Paul on June 28, 2009 3:36 PM writes...

Zicam is not homeopathic. The label is a misnomer and I suppose is geared towards an audience who are drawn to "holistic" or "alternative" treatments, and who don't know what homeopathy is.

Anyway the zinc is the active ingredient and is indeed effective for some people. I suggest that the side effects should be clearly printed on the label and let the consumer make their own choice.

As for the juvenile "Anonymous" above and its comment "most conservatives are morons", that speaks more to his or her level of ignorance and simple minded stupidity than anything about conservatives, of whom I would wager Anonymous does not actually know any personally. As a former liberal I can attest to the fact that conservatives on average are much better informed, and more importantly, have matured beyond the permanent state of adolescence that seems to afflict the majority of liberals.

Permalink to Comment

33. jjim on June 28, 2009 4:31 PM writes...

Zicam isn't a placebo either. It's a "Nocebo", in Latin, "Placebo" means, literally, "I please". "Nocebo" means "I harm".

Permalink to Comment

34. Koblog on June 28, 2009 7:09 PM writes...

I don't suppose any commenters here have actually tried Zicam? Ah, but all are experts....

The theory is to create an inhospitable nasal environment where the rhino virus replicates. It's not your throat; it's your sinuses. Something like 1.5 quarts of mucus flow down your throat every day.

We get colds because our immune system gets overwhelmed by too many reproducing viruses.

Normally, you can fight them off. Get too tired or degrade your immune system some other way and you get sick.

What if you could make the petri dish that is the snot in your head so it could not grow the cold virus?

That's why Zicam went from lozenge to gel--to put it directly where the virus grows. By the time you have a sore throat, it's already filled your sinuses.

For the record, Zicam (gel and swabs) is the only cold remedy that ever worked for me.

Then again, I've only used the product with success and am I'm not an erudite theoretical expert like most everyone here.

Permalink to Comment

35. Koblog on June 28, 2009 7:12 PM writes...

Oh, yeah.

If Zicam get pulled for causing a few people to lose their sense of smell, shouldn't the FDA pull Viagra, since, well, it has actually killed some users?

Permalink to Comment

36. Kismet on June 28, 2009 7:23 PM writes...

Koblog, they lied about it being homeopathic and I'm assuming they probably lied about the risks. Why should people even try such a product? Whether nasal delivery works or not, the science on lozenges is more promising right now (& apparently free of the dangerous side-effects).

Cellbio what do you think (comment #20)?

Permalink to Comment

37. Peter on June 28, 2009 9:49 PM writes...

Well let me report several years worth of anecdotal evidence from my wife and myself. We take Zicam at the first sign of a cold, and more-often-than-not the next day symptoms are completely gone. Sometimes you have to keep taking it for a few days - if you stop the symptoms return.

So my first reaction on hearing the news was to go out and buy a dozen bottles as we are absolutely convinced it works and we have never had any problems with loss of smell. We think oral zinc gluconate works too (that's what we used to use before Zicam), but not quite as well, and oral zinc also does something very strange to my sense of taste for several hours. (A much more extreme version of how eating artichokes gives plain water a slight taste).

On the negative side, my son thought that he lost his sense of smell for a month or two after using Zicam, so likely there are many unreported cases of this happening.

Permalink to Comment

38. eugene on June 29, 2009 2:20 AM writes...

"I don't suppose any commenters here have actually tried Zicam? Ah, but all are experts...."

Anecdotal evidence doesn't count worth shit in real medicines that have to go through rigorous testing. Why are the makers of Zicam so afraid to do real testing? But I'm happy that you choose to sign-up as a free subject (or one who pays money) in place of the rats and bunnies. This trend will surely placate animal rights activists in the future and it's a good way to find some medicines that would fail in an animal model due to some non-human toxicity problem. There would be more human deaths and health problems with this new testing approach, but as they say: "that's the c'est la vie".

Permalink to Comment

39. big btech on June 29, 2009 7:29 AM writes...

FDA really screwed Matrixx here. Compnay made no explicit medical claims, and I agree the noption of Zn treating the cold is crap. That said, evidence for loss of smell is from a bunch of lawsuits started a few years ago that were consistently shown to have no merit.

Amazing that the FDA bags Zn, which may or may not cause hamr, but has no issue with cigarrettes, which clearly DO cause harm.

Permalink to Comment

40. zek202 on June 29, 2009 8:02 AM writes...

I am an MD and Zicam has worked great for me limiting the duration of colds that I get about twice a year. I do think it has affected my sense of smell to a degree. The instructions for the use of the jell were to not snuff the gel up the nasal passages but to squeeze the nares together to disperse the gel into the nose. I always made sure to warn people to do this and to not snuff the jell up the nose. The best way to prevent getting a cold? Wash your hands often (or use a gel) and never rub your eyes with your hands if you have not washed them recently.

Permalink to Comment

41. Reality Check on June 29, 2009 8:11 AM writes...

1) Zicam has never claimed to be a nasal "spray". It is a nasal "gel". If you sniff it or snort it, you are explicitly disobeying package directions. If you actually follow the directions -- even on the pump -- the gel will never get anywhere near the olfactory nerves. Sorry to be unsympathetic, but if you purposefully drink bleach, do you have the right to complain about the ill effects?

2) Stephen Colbert is liberal. His character is conservative. Think about that in the context of the issues he presents and in what light he pretends to view them.

3) Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer, not a religious leader or a politician.

Permalink to Comment

42. Trouble on June 29, 2009 10:07 AM writes...

Loss of sense of smell... is that a bug or a feature?

If I had to lose one of the five (er, seven if one counts balance and kinesthesia), I think I would pick that one.

Permalink to Comment

43. Tok on June 29, 2009 10:21 AM writes...

Simple solution. Regulate all these homeopathic medicines as drugs. Require all the same clinical efficacy and safety trials as any other drug. Otherwise they should not be allowed to even mention any disease on their packaging.

Permalink to Comment

44. Chuck Pelto on June 29, 2009 12:42 PM writes...

TO: Derek Lowe, et al.
RE: Zincam?

Never heard of it before now.

As for 'snortting' it.....

....I've practiced homeopathic techniques on myself for 22 years now. After being introduced to it by a lady friend. I was a skeptic at the time, but after several years of seeing it actually work on several things that the AMA couldn't do squat about, I've become convinced of its efficacy.

By and large, the blood vessels necessary to absorb the active agent into the body are not, repeat NOT, found in the nasal passages. They are in the mouth, under the thin tissues that line the cavity there.

So snorting a homeopathic materia medica is not, as I see it, a good idea.

RE: What's the Point?

Homeopathic techniques can be applied to deal with certain medical situations. Certainly not all. After all, even the AMA is smart enough to recognize that you have to apply the proper treatment to a given would hope....

Homeopathy is just one tool. A tool that the AMA, and their useful fools, deny.

How can I say that?

Probably based on history.

What history?

The history that the AMA was—for years—opposed to (1) chiropractic and (2) acupuncture techniques. They claimed such were just so much 'snake oil'. However,