They had to kill a good thing, didn't they?
November 9, 2004 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Zicam is an amazing intranasal gel that shortens the duration and reduces the severity of the common cold. I've had four colds so far this fall (I've got a toddler) and all of them disappeared within a day. Problem is, now reports are saying that if you get this stuff too far up your nose, you could lose your sense of smell. Damn!
posted by fungible (15 comments total)
there is a price for everything. Shorten the healing process, shorten the responsive power.

Try very hard to smash all the bacteria, AND the ones that live are that much stronger.

Overuse anti-bodies, AND breed super-bugs.

Use too much 'product', AND it turns the fish into Metrofishuals.

Stop the eggs from growing somewhere...AND they grow somewhere else.
posted by wah at 8:26 AM on November 9, 2004

Plan B: The active ingredient is zinc gluconate. Zinc, along with several other metals, has been found to inhibit the reproduction of several bacterial and viral pathogens, allowing the immune system more time to combat the invaders.

However, most forms of zinc are difficult to uptake into the mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, which is why ordinary zinc supplements don't help very much. Zinc gluconate, however, is readily absorbed.

Another product that is much cheaper and also works is "Cold-eeze" lozenges, that also contain zinc gluconate. They are the only lozenge with this ingredient, and they also shorten length and severity of colds. They also impart a nasty, metallic aftertaste, which fortunately is more repulsive to the pathogens than the user.

The future for this type of metallic inhibitors might include a return to collodial silver, which had a bad reputation in the past--very high doses turned the skin an ugly dark green--and its association with homeopathy. Ironically, it has been proven to inhibit pathogen reproduction, even though the homeopathic theory of why it worked was wrong.
posted by kablam at 8:32 AM on November 9, 2004

Zicam also has Q-Tip type applicators which should allow you to get the same benefit without losing your sense of smell.

The same company offers a similar nasal decongestant which you spray up your nose. It works - it cleared the F*CK out of my nose. It didn't run, but it hurt like hell. Felt like it had been severely abused.
posted by Fantt at 8:37 AM on November 9, 2004

Does it work on viral (marketing)?
posted by jpburns at 8:45 AM on November 9, 2004

I thought "intranasal gel" was a symptom of having a cold.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 9:00 AM on November 9, 2004

Problem is, now reports are saying that if you get this stuff too far up your nose, you could lose your sense of smell.

I thought you said you had a toddler? Seems to me this could come in handy.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:17 AM on November 9, 2004 [1 favorite]

Great comment wah but please try to avoid self linking.
posted by nims at 9:30 AM on November 9, 2004

There's no rule about self-linking in comments, though most folks do tend to point out when they're doing it.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:43 AM on November 9, 2004

I should read the guidelines someday.
posted by nims at 9:59 AM on November 9, 2004

aah, sorry.

Let me read up on the rules. I get a bit excited at times.
posted by wah at 10:17 AM on November 9, 2004

So, is it still okay to use Zicam if we don't shove it all the way to the back of our nose?
posted by mecran01 at 2:11 PM on November 9, 2004

Anosmia after intranasal zinc gluconate use.

Jafek BW, Linschoten MR, Murrow BW.

Departmtent of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA.

BACKGROUND: Zinc is an essential mineral. Beneficial zinc absorption takes place via enteral, parenteral, or cutaneous routes. However, direct application to the olfactory epithelium has been reported to cause loss of smell. Recently, intranasal zinc gluconate has been recommended as a treatment for the common cold. Severe posttreatment hyposmia and anosmia have been observed. METHODS: The case report of a typical patient is presented and analyzed in detail, followed by a series of patients with severe hyposmia or anosmia after the use of intranasal zinc gluconate. RESULTS: Although interindividual variation in drug response and drug effect is apparent, the severe hyposmia or anosmia appears to be long lasting or permanent in some cases. The mechanism of olfactory loss is thought to be the direct action of the divalent zinc ion on the olfactory receptor cell. CONCLUSIONS: Zinc ions are toxic to olfactory epithelium. Reports of severe hyposmia with parosmia or anosmia have occurred after intranasal use of zinc gluconate.
posted by mecran01 at 2:15 PM on November 9, 2004


PHOENIX, AZ (April 28, 2004)-Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., maker of ZicamĀ® Cold Remedy and other products, today reported triple-digit earnings growth for the First Quarter 2004-versus the same period in 2003-during its annual meeting of shareholders. Matrixx achieved these results despite what the company believes is an apparent attempt by some in the financial industry to unfairly attack the company's products and devalue its stock.

During the annual shareholders' meeting, company executives discussed the most recent attacks, which began with a poster presentation by Bruce Jafek, MD, Rocky Mountain Taste and Smell Center at the University of Colorado Medical Center, attempting to link intranasal zinc gluconate gel-the active ingredient in Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gels-to anosmia (loss of smell). The poster was presented at a conference of the American Rhinologic Society (ARS) in September 2003. These attacks have included false and defamatory Internet postings as well as product liability litigation that focuses on the alleged link between Zicam Cold Remedy and anosmia, as described in the poster presentation.

"When we first learned of the poster presentation, we became suspicious," said Carl J. Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. "The presentation appeared to be very unscientific, relying on a weak anecdotal case study of one patient with multiple risk factors for loss of smell. The conclusions were not supported by medical literature or the company's peer-reviewed clinical studies. In addition, the conclusions were based on studies with zinc sulfate, a completely different compound than zinc gluconate."

Matrixx recently discovered that Dr. Jafek's son "sold short" shares of the company's stock just before the presentation. Those transactions would result in a significant financial gain if the company's stock price dropped following the presentation. At the time, his son was employed in the investment community.

"We wondered why a physician would present data using such scientifically inappropriate protocols and could arrive at such unsubstantiated conclusions based on two completely different substances," said Johnson. "Loss of smell due to intranasal zinc gluconate had never been reported in any clinical research, nor were any cases of loss of smell observed in two Matrixx-sponsored peer-reviewed clinical trials with Zicam nasal gel."

Following a review of the allegations, Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., assembled an advisory panel of recognized scientific and medical experts to discuss clinical research regarding loss of smell.

"The panel was very critical of the poster presentation and generally felt that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that loss of smell could be attributed to zinc gluconate, the active ingredient in Zicam Cold Remedy intranasal gel," said Johnson. "The chairman of the scientific advisory panel forwarded a letter to the ARS citing various inadequacies with the poster presentation."

According to Johnson, Matrixx takes these attempts, as well as reports of loss of smell, very seriously.

"Matrixx' primary concern is the health and well-being of the consumers who use our products. We fully intend to continue our investigation and take appropriate action where justified," said Johnson.
posted by mecran01 at 2:19 PM on November 9, 2004

mecran01: Is that a press release from Matrixx?

Really, if the product works (which it seems to), I'm glad to see the company make money. The problem is that there's no FDA approval for such a product because it's homeopathic. So it's hard to tell who's on whose side here.

Personally, I'm sticking with the swabs and not the nasal spray version, and making sure I don't snort the stuff up into the nasal passages (according to the instructions, you're not supposed to). But as wah has suggested, who knows what other demons I'm releasing by using this stuff?
posted by fungible at 3:32 PM on November 9, 2004

Yes, the second was a press release--sorry I didn't indicate, I thought it was mentioned internally.
posted by mecran01 at 9:48 AM on November 10, 2004

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