Chicken soup and the common cold

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: March 13th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Most every grandmother keeps a chicken soup recipe in her medicine chest as a remedy for the common cold. But scientists tend to put little stock in time-honored tradition when it comes to searching for a cure for many ailments.

Now the long-simmering debate has come off the back burner. Grandma’s cold concoction has gone from mere lip service to the lab.

A pulmonary specialist at the University of Nebraska’s Medical Center tested homemade chicken soup and thirteen store-bought soups. He added soup to the white blood cells that attack an invading virus. Those cells, when they rush to the defense, can cause congestion.

The researcher suspected the soup would slow the cells’ movement and alleviate cold symptoms by reducing fluid build-up.

The results, published in the journal CHEST, showed the homemade soup did indeed slow the white blood cells’ movement, though not as much as a third of the store-bought soups did.

Knorr’s chicken noodle was most effective, followed by two kinds of Campbell’s, a Lipton and a Progresso chicken soup.

It’s no wonder that other researchers writing in the Canadian Medical Journal have proposed that the time-honored remedy meets World Health Organization’s guidelines as “an essential drug.”

Nebraska researchers say their work suggests chicken soup contains certainly biologically active compounds that ease cold symptoms. Chicken soup appears to moisten nasal passages, prevent dehydration, provide nourishment and take the sting out of a sore throat.

Now that’s nothing to sneeze at.