Zinc, colds, and capitalism

So, several members of my family have had a really nasty cold this week (as in miss three days of HS or hardly get up off the couch sick).  So, I’ve been determined to avoid it and have been taking Zinc Gluconate lozenges prophylactically  So far, so good.  Though, it could just be a healthy immune system.

Back in the day, I used to use Zicam intranasal Zing gel.  It was amazing at reducing the severity of a cold.  Scientifically, it made sense– the rhinoviruses proliferate in the tip of your nose, so that’s where you squirt the gel.  Alas, a number of people could not follow instructions and snorted the gel.  Turns out that can destroy your sense of smell.  Sometimes permanently.  So, this awesomely effective product was pulled because people couldn’t follow directions.

Anyway, the evidence on Zinc lozenges appears to be somewhat mixed, but the NYT ran a story back in 2011 about a comprehensive review suggesting that particular forms of Zinc quite likely are effective in reducing cold symptoms.   Interestingly, the most effective Zinc is only available in Eby’s Cold Cure which is pricey and can only be purchased on-line.  You’d think that since this major endorsement in 2014, Eby’s or at least Zinc Acetetate (as opposed to Zinc Gluconate) would go widespread and be available in Walgreen’s, CVS, etc.  But no.  If you want the Zinc Acetate, Eby’s website is still your only source.  Capitalism has let me down!  A better mousetrap and it’s still a very limited product.  Interesting story in the Austin American-Statesman about Eby and how his great “invention” just won’t catch on.

And after writing all this, I decided to go ahead and order a bottle of Eby’s for next time.  I’ll report back to you next time I get a cold.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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