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More zinc, fewer boogers

A review of research on zinc acetate lozenges finds they do indeed shorten the duration of cold symptoms.

Fewer boogers. Less hacking. Happier throat. What more could you ask for? OK, an actual cure for the common cure would be swell, but in the meantime it seems like zinc lozenges help ease the symptoms.

In a new meta-analysis, University of Helsinki scientists found that high-dose zinc acetate lozenges shortened the duration of cold symptoms, reducing nasal discharge by 34 percent, nasal congestion by 37 percent, scratchy throat by 33 percent and coughing by 46 percent. They also found evidence that zinc shortens the duration of achy muscles by 54 percent, according to a university release.

Because the lozenges dissolve in the mouth, the scientists wondered if the zinc would have a more potent effect on cold symptoms in the pharyngeal region, such as the throat, and less on nasal symptoms. However, it seems that didn’t make a spit of difference, as the zinc shortened symptoms throughout the body just as successfully. If you’re clobbered by headache and fever, however, it seems you’re out of luck as far zinc goes. The researchers found no evidence that the zinc helped those symptoms.

The journal BMC Research published the study, and it was noted on

Researchers Harri Heila and Elizabeth Chalker concluded in their research that “zinc acetate lozenges releasing zinc ions at doses of about 80 mg/day may be a useful treatment for the common cold, if started within 24 hours, for a time period of less than two weeks.”

Other recent research has pointed to zinc as one of the most important essential trace metals in human nutrition and lifestyle. Studies have suggested it may help with everything from depression to wound healing.

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