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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.