I am a zinc fan. Glenn Beck is into gold, and I am into zinc. (Perhaps there's something about being a political pundit that naturally lends itself to a fascination with one of the inert metals.) I used to pop zinc lozenges obsessively at the first sign of a cold. Later I discovered zinc nasal swabs -- a colleague and I used to study the chart on the Zicam box showing the supposed dramatic severity and duration of cold symptoms experienced by users of its product. I evangelized for the use of zinc and became a bit of a zinc bore. At one point, the FDA warned that zinc nasal swabs can take away your sense of smell, so I stayed away from all zinc for a while.
But now, studies show that zinc can have powerful effects on cold symptoms:
A sweeping new review of the medical research on zinc shows that sniffing,sneezing, coughing and stuffy-headed cold sufferers finally have a better option than just tissue and chicken soup. When taken within 24 hours of the first runny nose or sore throat, zinc lozenges, tablets or syrups can cut coldsshort by an average of a day or more and sharply reduce the severity of symptoms, according to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, a respected medical clearinghouse.
In some of the cited studies, the benefits of zinc were significant. A March 2008 report in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, for example, found that zinc lozenges cut the duration of colds to four days from seven days, and reduced coughing to two days from five. ...
The review found that not only did zinc reduce the duration and severity of common cold symptoms, but regular zinc use also worked to prevent colds, leading to fewer school absences and less antibiotic use in children. People who used zinc were also far less likely to have a cold that lasted more than seven days.
The story notes that there's no evidence that you can lose your sense of smell if you take the zinc orally. I am not going to urge my audience to put all its money into zinc, but I will urge you to purchase enormous quantities of zinc for personal, non-monetary use.
If anyone wants to learn more about zinc, they're welcome to stay...