Why Zinc Lozenges Kill a Cold Quicker than Zinc Tablets

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When researcher George Eby’s daughter was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of three, he knew that keeping colds and flus at bay while she underwent treatment was going to be an important task. Eventually the little girl did contract a cold and was given a zinc tablet to support her weakened immune system as it fought off the virus. However rather than swallow the tablet as she was told, the little girl sucked on the tablet over a period of time. To everyone’s surprise, a few hours later, her cold symptoms had completely disappeared.

This event intrigued her father so much that he conducted the first randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial on zinc lozenges in the treatment of colds.

Eby’s ground-breaking trial found that 86% or people who were given 207 mg/day of elemental zinc in a zinc gluconate lozenge had no symptoms at the end of the 7-day trial, compared to only 46% of people who were given a placebo. Eby concluded that, “Zinc lozenges shortened the average duration of common colds by about 7 days.”

Eby hypothesized that the slow dissolution of lozenges in the mouth had local and immediate effects in the pharyngeal region (upper throat). In effect, the zinc was carried through blood vessels in the lining of the mouth, directly to the area of need, rather than being absorbed by the digestive system first, as is the case with swallowed pills and tablets.

This initial research was backed up by a later series of trials conducted by scientists from the University of Helsinki (Finland) in 2017, in which 575 participants with naturally acquired colds were given either a or a zinc lozenge containing zinc acetate, a zinc lozenge containing zinc, or a placebo. This trial found that cold duration, on average, was 33% shorter for the zinc-taking group than the placebo group. It also found that those taking the zinc acetate lozenge had a 42% reduction in cold duration compared to a 20% reduction in cold duration in the zinc gluconate cohort.

The trial’s authors concluded, “…the current evidence of efficacy for zinc lozenges, in particular zinc acetate lozenges, is so strong that common cold patients may be encouraged to try them for treating their colds.”

Note from National Custom Compounding:  We can make up supplies of zinc acetate lozenges in various strengths and flavours to suit the individual. Contact us on 1300 731 755 or [email protected] for more information on how we can help you reduce the duration and severity of colds and flus this winter season.

Citation:

Eby GA, Davis DR, Halcomb WW. Reduction in duration of common colds by zinc gluconate lozenges in a double-blind study. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1984;25(1):20-24. doi:10.1128/AAC.25.1.20

Hemilä H. Zinc lozenges and the common cold: a meta-analysis comparing zinc acetate and zinc gluconate, and the role of zinc dosage. JRSM Open. 2017;8(5):2054270417694291. Published 2017 May 2. doi:10.1177/2054270417694291

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