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Paul Kiesel
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Homepathic False Promises: Zicam

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From The Atlantic:

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.

Click here for another article on the adverse effects of Zicam.

Also, Kiesel Boucher Larson has spoken with several sufferers of Zicam, including a woman who, after using the product once, lost her sense of smell (possibly permanently) and whose sense of taste has been partially damaged

If anyone else has experienced similar or worse problems due to taking Zicam, consult an attorney and/or an ear, nose and throat specialist, who can recommend what appropriate steps one can take to remedy their situation.