Busy scientists at India’s Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research have trained their sights on an almost universal ailment: the common cold.
And they have what appears to be very good news for cold sufferers.
Their latest review, published in The Cochrane Library, found that the mineral zinc could shorten the duration of the common cold, and make symptoms less severe.
"This review strengthens the evidence for zinc as a treatment for the common cold," said lead researcher Meenu Singh "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."
At Pill Advised, we are interested in nutritional approaches to illness and prevention, and have been following the zinc story as it develops. (Learn More About Zinc: Zinc Supplements Could Increase Immunity)
Read the full release below from the The Cochrane Library:
Zinc reduces the burden of the common cold
Zinc supplements reduce the severity and duration of illness caused by the common cold, according to a systematic review published in The Cochrane Library.
The findings could help reduce the amount of time lost from work and school due to colds.
The common cold places a heavy burden on society, accounting for approximately 40% of time taken off work and millions of days of school missed by children each year.
The idea that zinc might be effective against the common cold came from a study carried out in 1984, which showed that zinc lozenges could reduce how long symptoms lasted.
Since then, trials have produced conflicting results and although several biological explanations for the effect have been proposed, none have been confirmed.
The review updates a previous Cochrane Systematic Review, carried out in 1999, with data from several new trials. In total, data from 15 trials, involving 1,360 people, were included.
According to the results, zinc syrup, lozenges or tablets taken within a day of the onset of cold symptoms reduce the severity and length of illness.
At seven days, more of the patients who took zinc had cleared their symptoms compared to those who took placebos. Children who took zinc syrup or lozenges for five months or longer caught fewer colds and took less time off school. Zinc also reduced antibiotic use in children, which is important because overuse has implications for antibiotic resistance. (Discover Alternatives For Staying Healthy: 5 Supplements That Could Help Prevent the Flu)
"This review strengthens the evidence for zinc as a treatment for the common cold," said lead researcher Meenu Singh of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India. "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."
Further research should focus on the benefits of zinc in defined populations, the review suggests. "Our review only looked at zinc supplementation in healthy people," said Singh. "But it would be interesting to find out whether zinc supplementation could help asthmatics, whose asthma symptoms tend to get worse when they catch a cold." The researchers also say that more work needs to be carried out in low-income countries, where zinc deficiency may be prevalent.
Important: Spread the health by forwarding this article to your friends, and sharing on Facebook.
Learn More About Avoiding Winter Bugs:
Now we’d like to hear from you…
What do you do to stay healthy in the winter?
Do you take dietary supplements, and do they help?
Please let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below.
Wishing You Best Health!
The Pill Advised Team
Singh M, Das RR. “Zinc for the common
cold.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
2011, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD001364. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub3.
Department of Pediatrics, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.
The Cochrane Library consists of seven databases and is used by a broad range of people interested in Evidence-Based Health Care, including consumers, clinicians, policy-makers, researchers, educators, students and others.