This Common Cold Remedy May Not Work As Well As We Thought

mbg Editorial Assistant By Christina Coughlin
mbg Editorial Assistant
Christina Coughlin is an editorial assistant at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2019 with a degree in psychology and music.
Five Natural Cough Drops on a Green Background

Image by Hannah Schwob / mindbodygreen

The peak of cold and flu season is upon us, and we're all getting back into our typical cold remedies. If you typically use zinc lozenges, though, it may be time to switch up your cold-fighting methods. New research has shown that the lozenges may be ineffective in fighting the common cold.

Researchers conducted the experiment on all employees of the city of Helsinki in Finland. All participants were given a package of lozenges, either zinc or placebo, and were instructed to begin taking them as soon as the onset of cold symptoms began. Once the cold began, participants consumed six lozenges per day over the course of five days. Throughout the experiment, 88 participants contracted a cold.

Over the five-day treatment plan, participants showed no difference in recovery between the experimental and placebo group. Surprisingly, researchers noticed that the placebo group actually recovered faster than the zinc group after the five days were up. 

Although these results show that zinc supplements are not as helpful as we previously thought, researchers are hesitant to make the conclusion that they have any negative impact on the duration of a cold. Regular lozenges, however, are still effective in soothing those achy and itchy symptoms of irritation in the throat that come with most colds. 

The researchers of this study plan to conduct more trials before drawing any concrete conclusions about zinc lozenges and common colds. However, they have ideas for how to improve future research to get better answers. "In future trials of zinc lozenges, the dosage of zinc should be greater, the lozenges should dissolve more slowly, and the treatment should last longer than 5 days," says researcher Harri Hemilä, M.D. "Before zinc lozenges can be widely promoted for common cold treatment, the characteristics of lozenges that are clinically efficacious should be defined in detail."

While this home remedy may not be as helpful as we wanted for treating a common cold, no need to fret! We have plenty of other suggestions to naturally treat symptoms and fight a cold this winter.

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