Friday, November 4, 2011

Cold-eeze, the Miracle Cure for the Common Cold?

Maybe you've heard of them, maybe you haven't, but by the end of this article hopefully you'll know all you need to about the supposedly revolutionary lozenges dubbed "Cold-eeze."  Now I'm sure most of you have had lozenges before, to help with a sore throat or a cough.  They taste a little weird, that's for sure.  But if you've ever had a Cold-eeze lozenge, you'll know that they taste even weirder than the rest.

The claims the company makes about these lozenges is a little strange as well.  Supposedly, if taken at the start of a cold, a Cold-eeze lozenge can help to decrease the cold's duration and severity by up to 43%.  Whether it's true or not, that's a DEFINITE marketing tool, I know I was interested, as was my mom who brought home a box a few years ago, proudly stating  that our horrible colds were a thing of the past.  No, there was no arguing.  She'd read about it, and that was that.

And guess what?  I believe that those little lozenges did actually work.  If I remembered to take a few the day I felt that runny nose starting and that throat start scratching, the symptoms didn't seem to increase in severity, or at least not that I noticed.  Now I'm a firm believer in the placebo effect, and in all honestly I'm not ready to credit these little lozenges with all that help just yet.  The mind is a powerful tool.  If you truly believe that those little suckers will make you feel better, they most likely will.  You'd be surprised at the crazy examples of the placebo effect.

But even then it's kind of hard to believe that your mind alone could take care of an ongoing, torturous cold, right?  Maybe there's something to these lozenges.  Let's find out, by seeing what they actually contain.

Zinc:  Cold-eeze are what's known as a zinc lozenge.  That's why they leave that metallic aftertaste in your mouth.  There's been quite a few studies done on zinc and its cold-relieving power.  Zinc acts as an anti-oxidant and is found in almost every cell in your body.  It helps to fight off infections and similar sicknesses.  But is it effective when used as a cold remedy?  Well according to one source, there has been 15 studies done on zinc as a cold remedy, and the results are VERY mixed.  For every study that claims zinc can help, there's another that says that it made no difference whether the subject took a zinc supplement or not.

That's what they found in the  test most related to this article, an experiment pitting zinc lozenges vs. placebo lozenges, and the effects on people throughout the cold season.  Here's a quote from stating the results of two related studies on zinc lozenges:

"The first study in 1996, used about 100 sick adults and had them regularly take either zinc lozenges OR placebo lozenges every two hours for the duration of their sickness. There was significant difference showing that the zinc lozenges helped cut the duration of colds by about 43% in some people.
However, the second study conducted two years later (using about 250 students grades 1 -12th), showed NO significant difference at all (in either the length of the sickness or symptoms)."

So at this point, I find it hard to give advice.  Probably the best thing to do is to enter into a "well it couldn't hurt" mode.  Zinc lozenges, while possessing no definitive proof of their effectiveness, just might help you reduce the number of colds you catch, and the severity of those colds.  Sure, they might not do a darn thing, in which case you're no worse off.  But hey, if there was a chance I could be healthy for a few more days of the year, I'd take it.  Try a few, take one every now and then during cold season, record the results, try to document if you feel any better than you did last year. Believe me this ongoing study needs all the data it can get.  You never know what might help you.

Stay healthy, and good luck!

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