I posted something about supplements on Facebook recently and somebody commented about a terrible experience they had with a supplement called Zicam, which is a popular over the counter cold remedy containing zinc. In her comment, she said after she using Zicam, she lost her sense of smell. She said it's unlikely she would ever get her sense of smell back again. I am familiar with this unfortunate side effect. Let's look at the evidence for zinc and the loss of smell.
Zinc Swabs In Your Nose?
I have been saying this because of reports that have arisen over the last 10 years alleging these products may lead to a loss in the sense of smell. In some instances, the loss of smell may be permanent.
Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirms this in their June 16th 2009 Warning Letter to the makers of Zicam where they state they have received 130 complaints from people whose smell sense was either reduced or permanently lost. Some of these reports occurred after a single application. On the same day the FDA issued a public Safety Alert about Zicam.
As reported in the Washington Post article about Zicam, In 2006, the maker of Zicam (Matrixx Initatives) agreed to pay 12 million dollars to settle 340 lawsuits stemming from people who had lost their sense of smell. In some instance, just one application of Zicam caused a loss of smell.
Can Zinc Reduce Colds/Flus?
The problem is that this is faulty reasoning because “works faster” does not always mean the same thing as “works better”.
The peer reviewed published clinical studies find that sucking on zinc throat lozenges might help reduce cold symptoms (by about 10% to 30%).
My litmus test for all supplements is “published peer reviewed research”. To their credit, Cold-EEZE® is the ONLY PRODUCT on the market that has this proof. As such, it’s the zinc-based product I would recommend to people as long as they don't take the lozenges all the time.