What about COVID-19 and zinc lozenges?

Long-time readers know that my “go-to” sources for natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are ConsumerLab.com and Natural Medicines(TM). ConsumerLab has posted this about coronavirus and zinc.

Zinc has become one of the most popular suggestions for reducing symptoms of coronavirus. Notably, an email written by a pathologist, Dr. James Robb, that recommends using zinc lozenges such as Cold-Eeze to ward off the virus, along with other tips, has gone viral. 

Although there is no direct evidence at this time to suggest that using zinc lozenges can prevent or treat COVID-19 in people, zinc does have anti-viral properties and was shown in a laboratory study to inhibit the replication of coronaviruses in cells (te Velthuis, PLoS Pathog 2010). 

Zinc lozenges or other orally dissolving zinc formulas containing certain forms of zinc have been shown to reduce the severity and duration of colds, which are caused by viruses.

They appear to do this by acting directly in the throat, which is why the timing and duration of use matters when treating colds with zinc.

The connection with coronavirus and zinc lozenges is that the major cause of illness and death among people who are symptomatic with COVID-19 is respiratory disease and it is in the upper airway that zinc lozenges can have some activity. 

Be aware that typical daily doses of zinc provided by zinc lozenges generally exceed tolerable upper limits for zinc, and for this reason, they should not be used for longer than about a week.

Excessive intake of zinc can cause copper deficiency. Zinc can impair the absorption of antibiotics, and the use of zinc nasal gels or swabs has been linked to temporary or permanent loss of smell. 

There are several versions of Cold-Eeze(R) and there are many other zinc-containing lozenges sold. ConsumerLab.com has tested many of these and has published its Top Picks in its Zinc Supplements and Lozenges Review, which contains additional information about using zinc lozenges, its benefits, dosing, and potential side effects.

If you are deficient in zinc, you might consider a zinc pill (also covered in the Zinc Review). 

Supplementing with zinc (such as with regular oral tablets or gel caps) would NOT benefit most people unless they are deficient in zinc, which is more common in elderly people due to reduced zinc absorption.

In such people, supplementing with zinc (e.g. 20 mg per day) may improve the chance of avoiding respiratory tract infection, as suggested by a study of elderly people in nursing facilities in France. 

Others who may be low in zinc include vegetarians and people taking certain medications, such as those that reduce stomach acid and ACE inhibitors, on a long-term basis.

The daily requirement for zinc varies by age, but, for adults, is about 11 mg.

Of course, the most important thing you can do to avoid infection with coronavirus is to prevent exposure by following the latest recommendations of the CDC and World Health Organization and take steps to stay healthy, including getting adequate sleep, keeping up with your daily exercise, and eating a healthy nutritious diet.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2020. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

One thought on “What about COVID-19 and zinc lozenges?

  • Bruce Rock

    Since I had good success with the original Zicam in reducing the duration of common colds. I’ve started taking Zinc (as Gluconate) ( 1/3 of a 50 mg pill) as well as adding small quantities to my sinus rinse bottle. Seems to help with colds. No regular schedule of either.

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