The People's Perspective on Medicine

Zinc for the Common Cold

People have been searching for a cure for the common cold for centuries. To date there is nothing that actually overcomes cold viruses the way antibiotics conquer bacteria.That said, there are dozens of remedies on drugstore shelves purported to soothe symptoms and speed healing. One that has become popular and controversial over the last few decades is zinc. Some studies suggest that this mineral helps while others demonstrate little benefit.

Now experts for the highly respected international Cochrane Collaboration have examined all the evidence from 15 trials and concluded that zinc does seem to shorten cold duration by about a day. There was some evidence that zinc can help prevent colds in healthy people, but the researchers don’t have enough data to recommend a dosing regimen. Zinc works best if taken within 24 hours of the first cold symptoms.

[Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2011, Vol. 2]

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Someone said zinc causes them nausea .. and people’s pharmacy response was yes it’s common.
That, to me, is pretty show-stopping. Why even make a fuss or recommend the stuff, if it usually causes nausea? Most people would gladly have the average cold rather than feel like they are about to throw up. Hence the general sentiment that the flu is more unpleasant than a cold. :)

The hand washing obsession (and related germ-o-phobic things, like the fear of sharing a drink from the same bottle/glass now and then) has turned into just that – an obsession – in recent years, and in my opinion, it’s one of the contributing factors as to why kids in America seem to be sicker than ever, more often than ever.

I very, very rarely wash my hands (no matter what the previous activity was, with the exception of bathroom usage) prior to eating (even eating finger food).

I certainly don’t avoid soil/dirt, and I wash my hands because I prefer them clean – but not connected to eating, shaking people’s hands, etc.

Your body gets stronger upon a reasonable amount of exposure to things like that.

I also never get the flu shot.

I haven’t had the flu in about 10+ years, and I get a cold about one time every 5-6 years. Guess the proof is in the pudding – almost without exception, ALL the folks I rub shoulders with who obsess over opening/closing bathroom doors (gotta have that protective paper towel technique down pat!), washing hands thoroughly prior to eating, sanitizing liquid every 20 minutes from Mom’s purse, fear of sharing a bottle between two normal, healthy individuals……………..ALL of those people get sick constantly. Colds 2-3 times a year if not more often, flu roughly once a year, maybe once every 1.5 years.

Not me. And I couldn’t care less about doing that stuff. Coincidence? I think not, and decades of country kids’ lifestyle vs. city kids’ lifestyle proves it well enough, in my humble opinion.

Just as soon as I begin to get a sore throat, I suck on 1 zinc lozenge a day, until the discomfort subsides. This has prevented colds, which I used to get before I discovered zinc lozenges. I have done this for a couple of decades, with great success. I have recently taken more zinc lozenges throughout the day. I heard since zinc is a trace mineral, we don’t need that much. I just try to listen to my body as to how much I feel like taking in a day.

I have not had a cold or flu since spring 1985. Several things changed after that date: I was tested for allergies and started a rotational diet. I learned about supplements and used vitamin C, Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), and sucked zinc tablets. No they didn’t have the nice tasty vitamin C combinations then. They were nasty-but effective. I’ve since also learned about Olive Leaf Extract.
The minute I feel that suspicious tickle I take extra C and suck on a zinc lozenge. Rarely do I have to take anything else. Also I’m careful about washing my hands when I am around people with colds or flu.

Is there any information about zinc and nausea? I get very nauseous whenever I take it, and the nausea lasts all day. I would much rather have cold symptoms.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THIS IS A VERY COMMON SIDE EFFECT OF ZINC.

What need to be scientifically tested is using zinc to prevent a cold in the first place.
A zinc tablet allowed to dissolve under your tongue – maybe a couple of times in a day, when you know you’ve been exposed, will keep you from getting the cold.
(The theory (Parade Magazine 20 +/= years ago) is that swallowing zinc isn’t much help because most gets bound by the stomach acids during digestion and little gets into the blood stream. Dissolved under the tongue, the zinc goes directly into the blood stream and prevents a virus from replicating. It will stop the cold in it’s tracks. Admittedly not flavorful but better than two weeks of a cold.
I don’t get colds. ljm

I am fairly sure zinc works. But I don’t think you can just swallow it. I think it has a local effect on the throat and not a systemic effect. I get pure zinc and dissolve it in my mouth and let it drizzle down. Tastes funny.

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