June 27, 2019
We all dread when it happens. You start to feel a scratchiness in your throat and your nose starts to run. Coming down with a cold can be a real pain, but unfortunately antibiotics won’t work on it. So what can you do to get back on your feet quicker?
The idea that zinc supplements can reduce the length of a cold has been around for a while. Every year, health and wellness articles list it as a natural cold remedy, but does zinc really cure colds faster, and probably most importantly, is it safe to use?
Unfortunately, the research has been mixed. Zinc, a mineral, has been shown to target the rhinovirus, a common cause of the cold, which tends to hang out in your nose and throat. Several studies have suggested that zinc lozenges or syrup may reduce the length of your cold by a day, especially when started within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
But not enough people have participated in these studies for the medical community, including the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health, to feel comfortable recommending zinc as a way to reduce the length of your cold.
According to the Mayo Clinic, more evidence is needed. It is not clear what dosage or form of supplement would be most effective, and there are some serious side effects including nausea, and a permanent loss of smell if a zinc nasal spray is used. Too much zinc in your system can lead to copper deficiency, anemia and even neurological damage.
The National Institutes of Health also warns that zinc may interfere with any antibiotics or diuretics you may be taking. The bottom line: there are still too many unknowns when it comes to zinc as a cold remedy.Penn Medicine advises you to talk to your doctor before starting any kind of zinc supplement or even any alternative cold treatment.