>> Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Zinc is believed to shorten the effects of a cold, but research seems truly across the board on this subject. Indeed, WebMD - which I would consider a rather mainstream resource - has come to the same conclusion; that studies on zinc are inconclusive, and due to possible side effects one should probably refrain from medicating with it. A study on George Eby, who first patented the use of zinc lozenges as the "cure" for the common cold, implies that the actual type of zinc may make all the difference in whether it's at all effective. However, this same study also concludes with the idea that no one really knows if it's actually effective or not.
Sample of zinc oxide via Wikipedia
Zicam uses both zinc aceticum and zinc gluconate. The former is thought to be more effective than the latter. Zinc gluconate, or zincum gluconium, can be found naturally but for industrial uses this is synthesized by a process of fermenting glucose using common fungi or bacteria. (Synthetic product of minerals is far cheaper than natural extraction.) Both types of zinc can have side effects; long term daily use of zinc, for example, can inhibit copper absorption in the body. Too much or too little can affect vision, taste, cell growth, and a wide variety of other bodily functions.
There has been much discussion about zicam nasal sprays and the lawsuits which came about because of them. Many people claimed to have lost their sense of smell after using the sprays. In most likelihood, no solid conclusions have been reached as to whether this is true or not. Matrixx, Inc. settled out of court for millions of dollars and part of the settlement allows for continued sale of the nasal spray, however the company no longer lists zinc-based nasal sprays on their website.. (There are far fewer nasal spray options than there once were, of course.) Additionally, the FDA - whether you trust this agency or not - has officially stated that no one should use the Zicam nasal sprays due to loss of smell.
What are you to believe about this? In my personal opinion, I have seen far too many blog comments or emails from far too many various individuals to discount the loss of smell in people who have used the product, thus I believe the stories and not the PR reps.
My concern for cold products like this is twofold. First, products such as Zicam use synthetic vitamins and/or minerals, and no matter how you may argue the fact will always remain that synthetic materials have a different structure than natural ones. Second, companies like Zicam always add extra ingredients as preservatives, flavorings, colorings, and so forth. All of these kinds of ingredients, with rare exception, are unhealthy for your body. Zicam, for example, contains Benzalkonium Chloride, which at times is used as a detergent, fungicide, bactericide, and spermicide. While it is true when using Zicam one will probably not take in much of this agent, it is something that is still a toxin and you do not need to treat your cold with something such as this.
All right, so you need zinc. That much is guaranteed; the amount of zinc in the body is second (of minerals) only to iron. In America, your standard diet - even if you think you're "eating healthy" - probably lacks the proper amount of zinc. The processing of our food removes zinc along with all the other standard nutrients, so while the RDA of zinc is 15mg daily, the average intake is about 10mg. What can you do about this? You can get the zinc you need by eating very basic foods, and choosing organic sources when doing so. Fill your diet with green, leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, shellfish, meats, and so on. Avoid phytates (found in breads, cereals, legumes, and other such food) as phytic acid will bind with zinc and prevent its absorption. Avoid prescription drugs, heavy drinking, and stress. Try to live as naturally as possible - not so surprisingly, all of these things also naturally work together to provide a better immune system.