December 28, 2004
By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service
INTELIHEALTH – Zinc may be an effective treatment for people who have problems with their sense of taste.
Researchers in Germany and the United States assigned either zinc gluconate or a sugar pill to 50 people with dysgeusia (dis-GOOZ-ee-a), which is a distortion in the sense of taste. The people who took the zinc had fewer symptoms and functioned better, compared with people on the sugar pill. No one in the study knew which type of pill he or she was taking.
People taking zinc also showed fewer signs of depression, presumably because they could eat better and enjoy their food, the authors said.
People with dysgeusia may have a metallic or bad taste in the mouth, or may be unable to taste anything. In some people, foods taste “wrong” or stronger than they should.
Dysgeusia can have many underlying causes, including smoking, vitamin deficiency, dry mouth, nerve damage or head trauma. The people in this study had idiopathic dysgeusia, which means no cause could be found for their symptoms.
Other studies have looked at zinc as a treatment for dysgeusia, but not all studies found that it helped.
The study appears in the January issue of the Journal of Dental Research.