Dr. Désirée Lie from the University of California at Irvine Medical Center has reviewed the literature.

She presents case histories and guidelines for its use. Here are the highlights.

The common cold

  • Inconsistent results are likely due to varying zinc formulations used.
  • Zinc gluconate administered within 24 hours of symptom onset can reduce the duration of the common cold.
  • There’s inadequate information to support using zinc to prevent or treat the common cold in children.
  • A nasal gel formulation shortened the duration of common cold symptoms if started within 24 hours of symptom onset, but there were concerns about loss or reduced sense of smell when patients inhaled deeply when applying the nasal gel.

Severe diarrhea

  • Zinc supplementation reduced the incidence of diarrhea and mortality in children with acute and severe diarrhea who live in developing countries.


  • Zinc supplementation taken by mouth reduces the incidence of infections.
  • Taking zinc by mouth does not help heal leg ulcers even in patients considered malnourished.

Herpes simplex

  • Applying zinc topically reduce the severity and duration of both orolabial and genital herpes simplex virus.
  • A specific formulation of l-lysine, zinc oxide, and 14 other ingredients decreased symptom severity and duration.

Other uses and studies are chronicled here.

8/26/07 21:50 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.