Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Review
. Sep-Oct 2004;44(5):594-603.
doi: 10.1331/1544-3191.44.5.594.hulisz.

Efficacy of Zinc Against Common Cold Viruses: An Overview

Affiliations
Free PMC article
Review

Efficacy of Zinc Against Common Cold Viruses: An Overview

Darrell Hulisz. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Objective: To review the laboratory and clinical evidence of the medicinal value of zinc for the treatment of the common cold.

Data sources: Published articles identified through Medline (1980-2003) using the search terms zinc, rhinovirus, and other pertinent subject headings. Additional sources were identified from the bibliographies of the retrieved articles.

Study selection: By the author.

Data extraction: By the author.

Data synthesis: Human rhinoviruses, by attaching to the nasal epithelium via the intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) receptor, cause most colds. Ionic zinc, based on its electrical charge, also has an affinity for ICAM-1 receptor sites and may exert an antiviral effect by attaching to the ICAM-1 receptors in the rhinovirus structure and nasal epithelial cells. Clinical tests of zinc for treatment of common colds have been inconsistent, primarily because of study design, blinding, and lozenge contents. Early formulations of lozenges also were unpalatable. In three trials with similar study designs, methodologies, and efficacy assessments, zinc effectively and significantly shortened the duration of the common cold when it was administered within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. Recent reports of trials with zinc gluconate administered as a nasal gel have supported these findings; in addition, they have shown that treatment with zinc nasal gel is effective in reducing the duration and severity of common cold symptoms in patients with established illness.

Conclusion: Clinical trial data support the value of zinc in reducing the duration and severity of symptoms of the common cold when administered within 24 hours of the onset of common cold symptoms. Additional clinical and laboratory evaluations are warranted to further define the role of ionic zinc for the prevention and treatment of the common cold and to elucidate the biochemical mechanisms through which zinc exerts its symptom-relieving effects.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 15 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

References

    1. Farr B.M., Conner E.M., Betts R.F. Two randomized controlled trials of zinc gluconate lozenge therapy of experimentally induced rhinovirus colds. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1987;31:1183–1187. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Fendrick A.M. Viral respiratory infections due to rhinoviruses: current knowledge, new developments. Am J Ther. 2003;10:193–202. - PubMed
    1. Heikkinen T., Järvinen A. The common cold. Lancet. 2003;361:51–59. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Merluzzi V.J., Cipriano D., McNeil D. Evaluation of zinc complexes on the replication of rhinovirus 2 in vitro. Res Comm Chem Pathol Pharmacol. 1989;66:425–440. - PubMed
    1. Novick S.G., Godfrey J.C., Godfrey N.J. How does zinc modify the common cold? Clinical observations and implications regarding mechanisms of action. Med Hypotheses. 1996;46:295–302. - PubMed

MeSH terms

Feedback