Chicken Soup: Nature's Best Cold and Flu Remedy?

By Chet Day

An excerpt from
How to Beat Colds and Flu with 37 Natural Remedies

When I was growing up in the '50s, my grandmother always said chicken soup was good for what ails you.

Interestingly enough, scientific evidence today supports what dear old granny used to say.

Several medical experts have proven that old-fashioned chicken has healing properties.

Although a 12th century physician named Moses Maimonides first prescribed chicken soup as a cold and asthma remedy, its therapeutic properties have been studied by a host of medical experts in recent decades. Findings vary.

Some say the steam is the real benefit. Sipping the hot soup and breathing in the steam helps clear up congestion.

Irwin Ziment, M.D., pulmonary specialist and professor at the UCLA School for Medicine, says chicken soup contains drug-like agents similar to those in modern cold medicines. For example, an amino acid released from chicken during cooking chemically resembles the drug acetylcysteine, prescribed for bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

Spices that are often added to chicken soup, such as garlic and pepper (all ancient treatments for respiratory diseases), work the same way as modern cough medicines, thinning mucus and making breathing easier.

Another theory, put forth by Stephen Rennard, M.D., chief of pulmonary medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, is that chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory. The soup, he says, keeps a check on inflammatory white blood cells (neutrophils). Cold symptoms, such as coughs and congestion, are often caused by inflammation produced when neutrophils migrate to the bronchial tubes and accumulate there.

In his lab, Rennard tested chicken soup made from the recipe of his wife's Lithuanian grandmother. He demonstrated that neutrophils showed less tendency to congregate - but were no less able to fight germs - after he added samples of the soup to the neutrophils. Diluted 200 times, the soup still showed that effect.

Rennard based his chicken soup research on a family recipe, which he referred to in his article as Grandma's Soup.

Dr. Stephen Rennard's Recipe for Grandma's Soup

1 5-6 lb stewing hen or baking chicken
1 package of chicken wings
3 large onions
1 large sweet potato
3 parsnips
2 turnips
11 to 12 large carrots
5 to 6 celery stems
1 bunch of parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Clean the chicken, put it in a large pot, and cover it with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Add the chicken wings, onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips and carrots. Boil about 1.5 hours. Remove fat from the surface as it accumulates. Add the parsley and celery. Cook the mixture about 45 minutes longer. Remove the chicken. The chicken is not used further for the soup. (The meat makes excellent chicken parmesan.) Put the vegetables in a food processor until they are chopped fine or pass through the strainer. Both were performed in the present study. Salt and pepper to taste. (Note: this soup freezes well.)

Soups Used in Dr. Rennard's Study

When Rennard set out to determine whether there was any truth to the tales that chicken soup has medicinal qualities, he used an old family recipe - and found encouraging results. But he also found that some store bought soups fared even better.

It must be stressed that Rennard did only the one study. He concluded that to draw any definite scientific conclusions, further study would be needed. However, that's unlikely to happen because there's no money to be made with chicken soup.

Here's the list of brand name soups Rennard used - in order of how effective they were in slowing the progress of colds and flu.

  • Knorr's Chicken Flavor Chicken Noodle
  • Campbell's Home Cookin' Chicken Vegetable
  • Campbell's Healthy Request Chicken Noodle
  • Lipton Cup-O-Soup, Chicken Noodle
  • Progresso Chicken Noodle
  • Grandma's Soup
  • Health Valley 100% Natural Chicken Broth
  • Healthy Choice Thick and Heart Country Vegetable
  • Progresso Hearty Vegetable and Pasta
  • Campbell's Vegetarian Vegetable
  • Campbell's Vegetable Soup with Beef Stock
  • Health Valley Fat Free Garden Noodle
  • Cup O' Noodles, Oriental Nissin
  • Campbell's Ramen Noodles, Chicken Flavor

Finally, here's one more healing chicken soup recipe from my special report, How to Beat Colds and Flu with 37 Natural Remedies:

Sickbed Chicken Soup

1 large chicken
1 white turnip, peeled and cut into medium chunks
1 yellow onion, cut into chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into slices
3 carrots, peeled and cut into slices
4 stalks of celery, cleaned and cut into strips/pieces
5 healthy pieces of fresh dill or at least the flower part of one stalk

Put everything into the pot with about 3-4 quarts of water. Simmer until done. Debone the chicken, put into the refrigerator and skim off the fat.

Chet's Comments
Everything I've learned about natural methods for cold and flu relief can be found in my special report, How to Beat Colds and Flu with 37 Natural Remedies.



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