Medical Treatments

Research Says Zinc Best Treatment for Colds

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

Zinc may be your best bet when it comes to beating the common cold. A recent story in the New York Times reports that zinc can cut colds’ duration while also reducing the severity of symptoms.

Medical clearinghouse The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews recently undertook a large-scale review of the latest research on zinc. It pointed to one 2008 study, published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, which found that zinc lozenges cut week-long colds to four days on average. Lozenges also limited coughing to two days; without the zinc, it lasted five. Other studies suggested that zinc can prevent colds if taken consistently. Zinc is thought to have antiviral traits that stop cold germs from attaching themselves to membranes inside the nose.

Researchers used various forms and doses of zinc in their studies: zinc acetate and zinc gluconate lozenges were used, as well as zinc sulfate syrup, in doses from 30 to 160 mg daily. Over-the-counter products may not work as well as the zinc the researchers used, because they’re often combined with other ingredients, such as binding agents and flavorings. Dr. Ananda Prasad, oncology professor at Detroit’s State University School of Medicine, says, “A lot of preparations have added so many things that they aren’t releasing zinc properly.” He added that it’s important to use the correct dose and the right form of zinc, and to begin taking it within 24 hours of your cold’s onset.

So what is the right type and dosage? That’s still being researched. Several studies in the Cochrane Database used zinc acetate lozenges from the website Dr. George Eby, who wrote the first zinc study in 1984, developed them. Until researchers come out with a more fleshed-out list of effective zinc products, these lozenges may find themselves in very high demand during cold season.

Originally published at GrannyMed