Effect of treatment with zinc gluconate or zinc acetate on experimental and natural colds

Clin Infect Dis. 2000 Nov;31(5):1202-8. doi: 10.1086/317437. Epub 2000 Nov 6.


Two clinical trials were conducted, one involving 273 subjects with experimental rhinovirus colds and the other involving 281 subjects with natural colds. Symptomatic volunteers were randomized to receive oral lozenges containing zinc gluconate (13.3 mg), zinc acetate (5 or 11.5 mg), or placebo. The median duration of illness in zinc gluconate recipients was 2.5 days, contrasted with 3.5 days in the placebo recipients (P=.035), in the experimental colds study. Zinc gluconate had no effect on symptom severity and zinc acetate had no effect on either duration or severity. Neither formulation had an effect on the duration or severity of natural cold symptoms. Evaluation of blinding, taste, and adverse events revealed no significant differences among the 4 treatment arms. Zinc compounds appear to have little utility for common-cold treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Common Cold / drug therapy*
  • Common Cold / pathology
  • Common Cold / virology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Gluconates / adverse effects
  • Gluconates / therapeutic use*
  • Headache / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / chemically induced
  • Rhinovirus / drug effects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Zinc / adverse effects
  • Zinc / therapeutic use*
  • Zinc Acetate / adverse effects
  • Zinc Acetate / therapeutic use*


  • Gluconates
  • Zinc Acetate
  • Zinc