There is no doubt that among more natural-minded physicians, doctors’ advice calls in part for zinc to be used to fight a common cold. In particular, zinc lozenges. In this area, the essential mineral is the subject of many health breakthroughs. A new study confirms that zinc taken orally can work — though perhaps not as much as we’d hope. And there are common side effects.
The study is making waves now in the “Canadian Medical Association Journal.”
Researchers looked at 17 randomized studies totaling 2,121 participants up to 65 years of age. The questions posed: how effective was zinc against the common cold? And how safe?
RECOMMENDED: Boost Your Immune System with Zinc
The important note here is that all studies were high-quality and used placebo, so their results can be trusted more. That said, the researchers did say that some evidence was weak. Compared with placebos, zinc significantly reduced the duration of cold symptoms, the studies found. High doses of ionic zinc were more effective than lower doses at shortening the duration of cold symptoms. (Though don’t take high doses without a doctor’s go-ahead.)
Weaker evidence showed that people taking zinc were less likely to have symptoms after one week, although there was no difference in symptoms between the two groups at three days. While zinc appeared to reduce the duration of symptoms in adults, there was no apparent effect in children. Participants taking zinc treatment were more likely to experience adverse effects, including a bad taste in the mouth and nausea.
Previous studies have shown conflicting effects of zinc in reducing cold symptom severity and the duration of symptoms.
The researchers say that, until further evidence is available, there is only a weak rationale for physicians to recommend zinc for the treatment of the common cold. And the benefits should be balanced against adverse effects.
Along with zinc lozenges, here are natural medicine’s best bets at beating that nagging cold:
— Vitamin C
— Essential oil monoterpenes
— Panax ginseng
— Green tea extract
— Manuka honey
— Vitamin D
— Chinese medicine