If you’re battling the common cold already this winter, you’ll be happy to know that zinc can slash your “under-the weather” time almost in half!
“The treatment uses zinc acetate lozenges that dissolve rapidly in the mouth and throat where they kill the common cold virus by direct contact. Then in a classic example of a “two-fer”, the zinc is swallowed, becoming a zinc supplement,” says Dr Jonathan Wright of Nutrition & Healing.
Here’s how zinc acetate lozenges work to fight the common cold
According to Dr Wright, seven years ago, Dr Ananda Prasad, the most prominent zinc researcher in the United States, and likely the world, published study results in the Annals of Internal Medicine that showed zinc acetate lozenges both shortened the duration of the common cold and relieved its symptoms.
In fact, within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms, 50 volunteers took either 12.8mg zinc acetate lozenges or a placebo every two to three hours while awake.
The zinc group experienced shorter overall duration of cold symptoms (4.5 vs. 8.1 days), cough (3.1 vs. 6.3 days), nasal discharge (4.1 vs. 5.8 days) and decreased total severity scores for all symptoms compared with placebo.
While the research volunteers did report some common side effects, including nausea (a known side effect of the sulphate form of zinc), constipation, diarrhea, taste problems (excessively sweet, sour or bitter), dry mouth and mouth irritation, these adverse effects weren’t significantly different between the zinc and the placebo groups.
While zinc can slash the time you suffer with a cold by almost half, according to further research, it turns out the type of zinc you use is important.
But you can only benefit from these healing abilities if you get the right form of zinc!
When a deeper analysis was done on the Cochrane research, “the forms that were 0% ionisable – zinc gluconate citrate, zinc citrate and zinc orotate didn’t help at all. The intermediate ionisable forms – zinc gluconate and zinc glycinate gluconate only shortened colds by a median of four days,” explains Dr Wright. It was the most ionisable form – zinc acetate that had the greatest effect in shortening colds by an average of five to seven days.
Basically, the form of zinc that does the job of killing the common cold virus the best is the “ionised” form. And that’s zinc all by itself and not attached to any other molecules.
It turns out when zinc acetate is introduced to the pH (the acid-alkaline balance) of the mouth, the zinc molecule detaches or ‘dissociates’ from the acetate molecule by 100%, making all of it available to kill viruses and other germs.
In contrast, the other forms of zinc found in the majority of lozenges on the market, release less of the ionised form and as a result kill fewer germs.
While the goal of the zinc lozenge is to rapidly release the zinc so it can come into contact with both the cold virus itself and the mucous membranes of the mouth, throat and surrounding areas. The zinc lozenge must also achieve their second goal – to taste good, or at least acceptable, even to small children.
The one zinc supplement that tastes great and works well…
While in recent years, good-tasting zinc acetate lozenges have been hard to find, “researcher George Eby found that zinc combined with acetate could be made into compressed tablets or hard candy lozenges that were both stable and pleasant tasting,” explains Dr Wright.
When the lozenges dissolve, the zinc and acetate rapidly break apart, releasing the ionic (positively charged) zinc to come into contact with both the viruses and mucous membranes where it can do its job.
So how much zinc should you take?
To ensure maximum effectiveness, you must take zinc lozenges within 24 hours of the onset of a cold, and you should dissolve them in your mouth and gargle them once liquefied before swallowing. It works best by contacting your mouth and throat for as long as possible.
Keep in mind that a small percentage of people may experience troublesome nausea when zinc contacts an empty stomach lining. If this occurs, you can prevent it by eating food before swallowing the liquefied zinc acetate.
There you have it. Use zinc lozenges to help alleviate the common cold this winter.