Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Study Shows the Cold Busting Properties of Zinc

Taking zinc supplements could be your best weapon in the battle against the common cold. According to a new study recently published in the health care journal The Cochrane Library, zinc can reduce the severity and duration of the cold virus and possibly even prevent the virus altogether.

Researchers from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India examined data gathered from fifteen trials on more than 1,300 participants. Their findings showed that cold sufferers who began taking zinc in the form of tablets, lozenges, or syrup within a day of the onset of symptoms experienced curative effects. In addition, participants who took zinc regularly for at least five months saw a reduction of the number of colds they contracted.

Zinc is a trace mineral necessary to the basic biological process, such as with cell division. As for how zinc can fight the common cold, it may contain antiviral properties, or possibly prevent the release of histamine and prostaglandin, which are known to increase inflammation in the nose that contributes to stuffiness, pain, and sneezing.

Previous studies have touted the effectiveness of zinc against the common cold in regards to both prevention and a reduction in the duration of symptoms. This latest study serves as confirmation of past findings. In a statement, lead researcher Meenu Singh of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research acknowledged, “This review strengthens the evidence for zinc as a treatment for the common cold.”

According to the research team’s press release, “At seven days, more of the patients who took zinc had cleared their symptoms compared to those who took placebos.” The statement also noted, “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.”

Contrary to popular belief, cold temperatures do not cause the common cold. The virus is spread by droplets coming from a person who has already been infected. However, droplets released by a cough or sneeze have more favorable conditions to travel farther and remain in the air longer on a cold and dry day, and the dryness of nasal passages during cold weather only adds to this effect.

People also tend to spend more time indoors during winter, which increases the frequency of close contact with one another, and boosts the likelihood of virus transmission. In addition, viruses remain in common space areas such as elevators and break rooms, as well as on surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs, and telephones.

The normal duration of a cold is about seven days, and although the virus may make you more susceptible to other bacterial infections, it does not cause them. Therefore, if your symptoms begin to improve and then worsen over a period of days, a visit to your doctor is advisable.

As to the outcome of the new study, it is not yet clear as to what dosage of zinc is sufficient for the prevention and cure of the cold virus. The researchers concluded that “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.” Future investigations into the matter will be necessary to make any definite determinations.

For now, the best preventive measure against the cold virus is to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as your backup. In addition, getting a sufficient amount of sleep can cut your risk of getting a respiratory infection. Research has also shown that regular exercise can help ward off the common cold. And, of course, a healthy diet including zinc can’t hurt. If you already have a cold, cough into your elbow instead of your hands to lessen the likelihood of your cold spreading to others.


Post a Comment

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grocery Coupons