For Colds, Zinc May Beat Chicken Soup

Medical research on zinc shows that cold sufferers probably have a better option than just tissue and chicken soup, according to a new review of research that has been done on the connection between zinc and the common cold.

Taken within 24 hours from the onset of symptoms, zinc lozenges, tablets or syrups can cut colds short by an average of a day or more and sharply reduce the severity of symptoms, according to the review’s authors.

Among the studies cited was a 2008 report in The Journal of Infectious Diseases that found zinc lozenges cut the duration of colds from seven days to four, and reduced coughing from five days to two.

The review’s authors offered no advice on what type of zinc product to buy, however, saying that more work was needed before they could make recommendations.

“Over all, it appears that zinc does have an effect in controlling the common cold,” said Dr. Meenu Singh, the review’s lead author and a professor in the department of pediatrics at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India. “But there still needs to be consensus about the dose.”

Experts say that over-the-counter zinc products may not be as effective as those studied by researchers because “a lot of preparations have added so many things that they aren’t releasing zinc properly,” said Dr. Ananda Prasad. “The public is confused because people have used the wrong dose, they have used the wrong sort of zinc or they have not started the treatment within 24 hours of onset.”

The report did not review any studies of nasal zinc products. The Food and Drug Administration warned consumers to stop using Zicam nasal sprays and swabs, which contain zinc, after some users lost their sense of smell after using the product.

Complete article via New York Times

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