General Question

ShiningToast's avatar

Why does Zicam tell me not to have any citrius fruits or juices?

Asked by ShiningToast (2101points) February 11th, 2010

I’m getting sick, so I went to the store and bought this Zicam and some Airborne. When I get home, I notice that the Zicam tells me not to have any citrus fruits or juices within 30 minutes before and after of taking it. Why is that?

My Airborne is “Zesty Orange”. I’m assuming this counts as a citrus fruit.

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16 Answers

Nullo's avatar

You ought to avoid the Zicam in general; there’s a good chance that it’ll knock out your sense of smell.

Buttonstc's avatar

There are several medications which list citrus juice as a no-no.

My understanding is that it has to do with issues around absorption. Either interfering with it, thus lowering it’s effectiveness, or causing it to build up to dangerous levels in your bloodstream.

I’m not familiar enough with this particular medication to know why, but if I were you I would heed the caution as it’s a pretty serious stipulation when placed upon other medications. Ignore it at your peril.

ShiningToast's avatar

@Buttonstc I will take heed of your warning; thank you for the insight.

judochop's avatar

Zicam is Homeopathic, you are asked to avoid the juices because of absorption and only the absorption. There will be nothing building up to a dangerous level, quite the opposite really.Also, the main juice to avoid is grapefruit juice, you are totally fine to take the airborne with the zicam. If you are already feeling sick then you should double up the airborne, it’s not going to hurt you at all.
With all that said, remember that this is the internet and I am not a doctor however I do only take homeopathic medicines.

judochop's avatar

@Nullo the sense of smell thing for Zicam is only from using the nasal spray and the problem spawns from Zinc and people over using the product or combining it with nasal spray like Afrin. Zinc can be damaging to the nasal lining when snorted.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I agree with @Nullo. I can’t believe they still have this product on the shelf. It certainly knocked my smell & taste out for a while. I used the sprays & the nasal gel. After I heard all the controversy, I threw every Zicam product I had in the trash.

Nullo's avatar

My mom swears by hydrogen peroxide. Apparently you swab it in your ears and the very edge of the inside of your nose during cold season and when you catch one.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@Nullo Huh. I’d never heard that one. Interesting.

gasman's avatar

Beware Zicam nasal products, from Consumer Health Digest #09–25, June 8, 2009 Excerpt:

The FDA is warning consumers to stop using and discard three zinc-containing nasal products: Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel (a spray), Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size. Since 1999, the agency has received more than than 130 reports of loss of sense of smell and/or taste associated with these
products. A recent FDA inspection discovered that the company had received more than 800 other complaints that it did not send to the FDA. Many of the victims reported that their problem occurred with the first dose.

The FDA notified the manufacturer that these products can no longer be marketed without FDA approval. Zicam products are marketed by Matrixx Initiatives, a/k/a/Zicam LLC. In a video message to consumers, company president Bill Hemelt states: (a) there is no credible evidence that the products are unsafe, (b) in a spirit of
cooperation, the company has voluntarily recalled the three products, and© the company wants to meet to meet with the FDA to show its “extensive products safety data.”

But a doctor at the University of San Diego’s Nasal Dysfunction Clinic reported that patients he has seen have told a similar story: They inserted the gel into their nose, took a strong sniff and felt intense burning for hours before realizing they could no longer smell or taste. [Alltucker K, Rough G. Zicam nasal spray can cause loss of smell, FDA says. Arizona Republic, June 17, 2009]

In January 2006 Matrixx settled a class-action suit by people who alleged that its Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Spray had caused loss or decrease of their senses of smell and taste. At that time, 49 pending lawsuits involved about 400 individuals. The agreement called for payment of $12 million to fund awards to about 340 of the plaintiffs. The settlement did not include 22 plaintiffs who used Zicam’s nasal swab product and 39 plaintiffs in 32 suits pending in courts outside of Arizona.

The company denied being at fault, continued to market the products, and did not mention any risk on its Zicam Web site. Zicam nasal products are labeled as “homeopathic” even though they deliver potent doses of zinc. This may have helped the company to escape close scrutiny because the FDA traditionally pays little attention to homeopathic products. The recent publicity is likely to trigger more lawsuits.

Airborne not looking so hot, either: new/200803032.html The settlement agreement is posted at

gasman's avatar

Airborne not looking so hot, either: Makers of Airborne Settle FTC Charges
of Deceptive Advertising

Excerpt (accidentally deleted from previous posting):

Airborne Health, Inc., the Bonita Springs, Florida maker of the popular Airborne Effervescent Health Formula, an effervescent tablet marketed as a cold prevention and treatment remedy, has agreed to pay up to $30 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it did not have adequate evidence to support its advertising claims.

The FTC’s lawsuit also names Victoria Knight-McDowell, the former schoolteacher who invented Airborne, and her husband Thomas John McDowell. If the settlement is approved by the court, it will prohibit the defendants from making false and unsubstantiated cold prevention, germ-fighting, and efficacy claims. The monetary judgment will be satisfied by the defendants’ adding $6.5 million to the funds they have already agreed to pay to settle a related private class-action lawsuit, bringing the total settlement fund to $30 million.

“There is no credible evidence that Airborne products, taken as directed, will reduce the severity or duration of colds, or provide any tangible benefit for people who are exposed to germs in crowded places,” said Lydia Parnes, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Nullo's avatar

Anytime you see something like ”... by a school teacher/mother/grandmother/Random J. Squirrel,” be wary; it’s likely a quack product.

gasman's avatar

@Nullo More from my last link: Concocted by second-grade teacher Victoria Knight McDowell and her screenwriter husband Thomas Rider McDowell, Airborne was promised to “boost your immune system to help your body combat germs.” ...Its promotion included an appearance by Victoria McDowell on the Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2004, The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics concluded that Airborne products had not been proven effective. [emphasis mine]

johnw10's avatar

thanks for insight!

shebby's avatar

I been taking the oral spray for abt 3 days now. No loss of taste and its doing pretty well at knocking out my cold. I believe in this stuff. Just saying.

Jay_SFO's avatar

I have been using Zicam tablets since 2009 – the ones that easily melt in the mouth. (I have never used the nasal spray or any other Zicam product.)

My experience is that they have been 100% effective in stopping the progression of a cold. In the past, before Zicam, a cold would last for 7 – 10 days. Now I find that if I take these at the onset, as directed, I can cut that down to 4.

The generics, as sold by Walgreens and CVS, are equally effective and a bit cheaper.

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