Zinc may reduce duration, severity of colds

A report this week in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews indicates that administering zinc within 24 hours of onset of the common cold could reduce severity of symptoms and the cold’s duration- the sticking point being that exact zinc dosage has not yet been determined.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Meenu Singh of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India, said:

“This review strengthens the evidence for zinc as a treatment for the common cold… However, at the moment, it is still difficult to make a general recommendation, because we do not know very much about the optimum dose, formulation or length of treatment.”

The authors added:

“In addition, given its toxicological profile, the potential for zinc to induce adverse effects at the doses participants are required to take also needs to be determined.”

The review culled the results of 15 separate trials, spanning more than 1,000 participants. After a week, patients treated with zinc were less than half as likely to still be suffering symptoms.

In 2009, a nasal zinc remedy for colds, Zicam, was recalled after being linked to anosmia- the loss of the sense of smell.