The Astounding Medicinal Properties of…Chicken Soup

February 25, 2013

By Dr. Lisa Watson ND

We are deep into another Canadian cold and flu season and everyone is looking for ways to feel better.  Well look no further than your pantry, the cure you’re looking for may be chicken soup.

With over 100 different viruses that can cause the common cold it’s not surprising that almost every Canadian will experience at least one cold this season.  Despite the number of viruses that can cause the common cold, the symptoms are very similar – a phlegmy cough, sneezing, a sore throat and stuffy nose.  All of these symptoms are due to inflammation and this may be the key to chicken soup’s astounding medicinal properties.

Research Summary

In 2000, researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center tested the ability of anti-inflammatory properties of chicken soup.  Using blood samples, the researchers showed that chicken soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that fights infection.   By inhibiting this inflammatory reaction in our body chicken soup helps reduce symptoms of upper respiratory infections.   Each of the vegetables was studied individually as well and were all found to have significant anti-inflammatory properties.

A study out of Mount Sinai in Miami also found that chicken soup improves the flow of air through the nose and promotes movement of mucous – decreasing nasal stuffiness and congestion.

Slurp Your Way to Health

In addition to having anti-inflammatory properties, chicken soup also offers a diverse number of nutrients from the vegetables (beta carotene, vitamin C, volatile oils, flavonoids and minerals), is a source of much needed hydration and a good source of protein to lift your energy.  And fear not fellow vegetarians, a vegetable broth with miso or other vegetarian protein may have similar medicinal properties.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center team has published the original recipe used in the study on their website.  Make it for someone you love the next time they get sick, and maybe they’ll return the favour.

Saketkhoo K, Januszkiewicz A, Sackner MA.  Effects of drinking hot water, cold water, and chicken soup on nasal mucus velocity and nasal airflow resistance.  Chest. 1978 Oct;74(4):408-10.

Rennard BO, Ertl RF, Gossman GL, Robbins RA, Rennard SI.  Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro.  Chest. 2000 Oct;118(4):1150-7.


Dr. Lisa Watson is naturopathic doctor practicing at IHI. She has a special clinical interest in pre-natal health and kids & teen care. Look for more of her writing on her personal website, or follow Dr. Watson on twitter.

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