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Zinc takes the heat out of colds
February 17, 2011 – 3:00AM
NEW YORK: There is still no cure for the common cold, but zinc may be the next best thing.
A sweeping review of medical research shows that when taken within 24 hours of the first runny nose or sore throat, zinc lozenges, tablets or syrups can cut colds short by an average of a day or more and sharply reduce the severity of symptoms.
The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, a respected medical clearinghouse, said some studies found that the benefits of zinc were significant.
A March 2008 report in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, for example, found that zinc lozenges cut the duration of colds from seven days to four, and reduced coughing from five days to two.
The study authors offered no guidance on what type of zinc product to buy, dosage, formulation or duration of use, saying that more work was needed.
”Overall, it appears that zinc does have an effect in controlling the common cold,” said Meenu Singh, the review’s lead author and a professor in the department of paediatrics at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India. ”But there still needs to be consensus about the dose.”
Many over-the-counter zinc products may not be as effective as those studied by researchers because commercial lozenges and syrups are often made with different formulations of zinc and various flavours and binders that can alter the effectiveness of the treatment.
”A lot of preparations have added so many things that they aren’t releasing zinc properly,” said Ananda Prasad, professor in the department of oncology at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and a pioneer of research into zinc as an essential mineral.
The new report gives credence to the long-debated theory that zinc can be an effective treatment for colds. While it is not certain how the mineral acts, it appears to have antiviral properties that prevent the cold virus from replicating or attaching to nasal membranes.
The New York Times
This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/world/zinc-takes-the-heat-out-of-colds-20110216-1awny.html