ZICAM--Homeopathic Cold Remedy

For months I’ve seen TV commercials for this stuff called Zicam, which claims to reduce the severity and duration of colds. I actually thought that they were something new and different. However, I don’t get a lot of colds and rarely bother to medicate them, so I never bought any.

The other day, I was watching on of their commercials, and noticed the word “homeopathic” on the box. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large ad campaign for a homeopathic cure.

They also claim that studies have shown it works. They mention a double-blind placebo-controlled study that was published in a peer-reviewed online journal (The Internet Journal of Family Practice). Of course, they only studied 32 subjects.

The active ingredient is some proprietary gel preparation of zinc, apparently.

Now, the general questions: Is this product immune from FDA regulation because it claims to be homeopathic? Can they claim whatever they want because it is homeopathic? Is there any legal requrement about how much research needs to back a claim before you can put it in advertising?

[Note to Mods: I just looked this over and it looks a bit like a Great Debate. I’d love to get some GQ answers, but feel free to move it if it starts to become GD-ish.]

Frankly, as far as I’m concerned if it says Homeopathic on it, it’s worth avoiding it altogether.
Sometimes a product will claim homeopathicity (new word?) to avoid clinical trials and such, such as the stop-smoking product called CigArrest.

Now I went and checked out their website. I looked at the FAQ and of course, the testimonials section. The FAQ contains some words and descriptions that make me suspicious.

If it is indeed Homeopathic, it will not work at all. I could not find any of the X or C dilution markings though. If it is not homeopathic, then it might work to some degree, but by labelling it homeopathic they have ensured that clinical tests can be skipped.
You have to be highly suspicious of that if nothing else.

So all I can say is this: If you can get some free, give it a try and see what it does for you.