Cochrane LibraryCommon ColdZinc

Cochrane reviews zinc treatment for the common cold

Are there benefits to offset the potential for side effects?

First, the details.

  • 7 studies involving 754 cases were included.
  • For all but 1 study, the quality of study design was rated medium to high.

And, the results.

  • Duration of cold symptoms
    • Overall, the results suggest that treatment with zinc lozenges does not reduce the duration.
  • Severity of symptoms
    • Reports that zinc lozenges reduced the severity (and duration) of cold symptoms were compromised by a significant potential for bias.
  • Safety
    • People taking zinc lozenges were more likely to complain of mouth irritation, unpleasant taste, feeling sick, and diarrhea.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded that the evidence for effective treatment are inconclusive.

However, hope springs eternal. “Given the potential for treatment to produce side effects, the use of zinc lozenges to treat cold symptoms deserves further study.”

2/15/11 21:43 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, a complementary and alternative medicine website.