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FDA steps in on homeopathic nightmare

Could the homeopathic drugs you’re taking actually be hurting you?

Well, apparently they can.

Take, for example, the beloved cure-all Zicam. On Tuesday, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) told Zicam to stop marketing two of its products. The reason behind the demand is that hundreds of people have filed lawsuits claiming that these products have caused them to lose their sense of smell.

The two products in question are Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel and Nasal Swabs. According to the Associated Press (AP), the FDA plans to test the safety of these two drugs before they’re allowed back on the market… if they’re ever allowed back on the market.

The interesting thing about homeopathic remedies is that they’re not required to undergo federal checks to see if they’re effective or even healthy at all. Another surprising fact about homeopathic drugs is that many contain an alarming amount of alcohol. The FDA limits traditional medicines to only 5 percent or less. Some homeopathic medicines have up to 10 percent alcohol and people are more likely to give the “natural” medicine to their children over the traditional.

The AP quoted Jerry Avorn, an expert in pharmaceutical safety at Harvard Medical School saying, “The therapeutic effect is no greater or less than a martini.”

Perhaps we would just be better having a martini than turning to homeopathic remedies.

David Richardson thinks so. He is one of the people who says that Zicam took away his sense of smell. It’s the traditional dramatic story. He told the AP that he tried the nasal gel “only once” after his mother suggested it to him. (Richardson is 46, by the way.) After the squirt, he “immediately felt a burning sensation.” After he did some research online, he found that other people were having trouble smelling after they sniffed some Zicam.

“It finally feels good to feel like we’re being heard,” he told the AP.

Now I, like many of you, have some kind of Zicam product in my medicine cabinet: Zicam Cold Remedy (the tablets. Shooting anything up my nose is not appealing to me even if I thought it would magically heal my cold.) The bottle tells me that it’s homeopathic and contains vitamin C and citrus. Those are two good things to “Get over your cold faster.”

The two active ingredients are zincum aceticum and zincum gluconicum. Ingredient names that rhyme are never bad… right?

I found little reliable information on what exactly “zincum aceticum” and “zincum gluconicum” are on the Internet. Many just assume that because zinc is thought to help you get over a cold quickly that any derivative must do the same. It appears that may not be entirely true.

As we await the results from the FDA, if you get a cold, perhaps you should avoid Zicam and maybe other homeopathic options. Even if you think that homeopathic is the only way to go, there’s no way to ignore the fact that these have not been tested by the FDA while other “traditional” options have.

Or I could say if Zicam and you battle, you may not be able to smell your defeat.

3 comments so far

I’ve been using zicam nasal and oral, cold and allergy products for years without any side effects. The products work great for me. It seems that 800 complaints with billions of doses to consumers is a rather low incidence rate over 10 years.

Also, lawyers have been soliciting clients to sue zicam, a very small company and easy target, for years.Plus a complaint like anosmia is hard to prove and pinpoint a direct cause for.

Finally, the number one cause of anosmia is the common cold. So how do people truly complaining about a lost sense of smell know what caused it if they have a cold and are likely using multiple cold products?

The real news is that there hasn’t been a proven link between zicam intranasel products and anosmia.

This FDA ruling is possibly sparked by something else (a new FDA administration with a new agenda, perhaps retribution for the company sponsoring Rush Limbough’s radio program?Your guess is as good as mine). I think this because the FDA’s letter is so definitive without a proven product link to anosmia. My question is, why did the FDA release its letter and hold a press conference first before telling Matrixx initiatives, the makers of Zicam, of there actions? Even in the case of more serious adverse effects such as death the FDA usually reaches out to the company for safety and product information.Then the FDA typically works with the company for a period of time. This is really an unprecedented situation.

Will you continue to use your zicam oral products that you indicated you have at home?


Are we really listening to what the FDA has to say? Have we not learned anything? The FDA’s track record is a little sketchy, to say the least. Prozac, anyone? The word “federal” seems to automatically mean they’re above manipulation and politics. Federal Reserve System, anyone?

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.

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