MAR 19, 2020 6:28 AM PDT

Does Sucking Zinc Lozenges Help Fight off Coronavirus?

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

As panic is spreading over the novel coronavirus, the time is ripe for both misinformation and disinformation to thrive. In particular, sucking zinc lozenges has been heralded as a possible “silver bullet against coronavirus”. But is this really the case? 

Not necessarily. The origin of this idea seems to have come from Dr. James Robb, a pathologist known for carrying out work on coronaviruses in the 1970’s. Having sent a letter privately to friends looking at the efficacy of zinc in treating coronaviruses of the past, he cautioned that this may not also be the case for COVID-19 due to a lack of scientific evidence for the virus in particular. In the spirit of misinformation however, this caution was left out of a blog post that ended up going viral. 

Despite this though, Robb did suggest that sucking on zinc lozenges throughout the day could help alleviate some cold symptoms. Yet, although some studies have shown that zinc supplements may help alleviate the common cold, also caused by a coronavirus, others have shown that it may be limited in effect.

In one controlled trial for example, 50 volunteers took around 13mg of zinc acetate or a placebo every 2-3 hours for as long as they had cold symptoms. In the end, the researchers found that those taking zinc had an average cold duration of just 4.5 days, whereas for those in the placebo group, it was 8 days. While other research has shown that up to 150mg of zinc per day does not cause toxicity even though we only require an average of 15mg per day, the participants in the zinc group consumed around 80mg of the substance per day. 

Meanwhile, other studies have shown that how zinc is consumed may change one’s prognosis. For example, although one study has shown that taking zinc gluconate lozenges (containing 13.3mg of zinc) tended to have lower illness time durations, another showed that those receiving zinc acetate lozenges (containing 5 or 11.5mg of zinc each) did not see any significant results. 

Although exactly how zinc works is unknown, several theories exist. For example, one posits that it may prevent the virus from entering cells by binding to a protein that usually enables its entry. Another theory holds that zinc may decrease levels of cytokines in the blood, known to cause inflammation. 

So what’s the bottom line? Although sucking on zinc lozenges may not prevent coronavirus, it may help ease some of its milder, cold-like symptoms. Given that taking up to 150mg of zinc over a short period of time has not been associated with any toxicity, it may be worthwhile taking the supplement regardless- especially given that low levels of zinc in the blood has otherwise been linked to cognitive impairment.


Sources: McGill, Medicine Net

About the Author
  • Annie graduated from University College London and began traveling the world. She is currently a writer with keen interests in genetics, psychology and neuroscience; her current focus on the interplay between these fields to understand how to create meaningful interactions and environments.
You May Also Like
JAN 16, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
JAN 16, 2020
Fatty Acid Supplement Repairs Brain After Stroke in Mice
Researchers have found that supplements containing short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) may be able to help the brain recover from having a stroke. This comes a...
JAN 16, 2020
Cancer
JAN 16, 2020
FLASH proton therapy: faster and more effective
A new technique called FLASH proposes a new type of radiation therapy. The technique is composed of an ultra-high dose rate of radiotherapy and uses electr...
JAN 18, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
JAN 18, 2020
Using Vitamins to Treat Pediatric Sepsis
New research indicates that is very much possible to treat pediatric septic shock in children with a combination of intravenous vitamin C and intravenous v...
FEB 18, 2020
Microbiology
FEB 18, 2020
Newly Found Glycopeptide Antibiotics Kill Bacteria in a New Way
The overuse and misuse of antibiotics and the adaptability of microbes has created a problem that people must solve....
FEB 26, 2020
Microbiology
FEB 26, 2020
NIAID Tests Remdesivir as a Treatment for COVID-19
A case of coronavirus has now occured in the US in someone without a known link to an infected person or travel....
MAR 08, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAR 08, 2020
DNA Origami Helps With Cancer Therapeutics
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describes how researchers designed molecules known as "peptoid-coated DNA or...
Loading Comments...