Zinc Reduces Duration, Severity of Common Cold

February 18, 2011

A Cochrane Review sheds light on zinc’s potential to alleviate the common cold.

Using data compiled from 15 trials on a total of 1360 patients, a new Cochrane Systematic Review concludes that zinc supplementation may reduce the severity of symptoms and duration of the common cold.

Trials included in the review were randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trials using zinc tablets, lozenges, or syrups.

When taken within 24 hours of cold onset, zinc was linked with reduced severity and duration of cold symptoms.

After seven days of zinc supplementation, significant reductions in cold symptoms were observed, compared to placebo.

Long term zinc supplementation (five months) was even associated with fewer school absences, developments of colds, and prescriptions of antibiotics.

“This is a treatment that is showing some promise which, where treating the common cold is concerned, is unusual,” Cochrane Library editor-in-chief David Tovey told BBC News. “Although there are many over-the-counter cold remedies already available, we are not awash with things that can stop cold symptoms or greatly reduce their severity. But there is still uncertainty about the best doses, timings and formulations and more studies will be needed to look at this.”

One concern raised by the study was that zinc lozenges were associated with an increased risk of adverse events, including bad taste and nausea.