Ancient soup doubles as medicine

By Sari Huhtala

This age-old soup remedy, backed by science, helps alleviate inflammation, stimulates clearing of the sinuses and has the potential to improve upper respiratory tract symptoms.

It’s not just an old wives’ tale; there’s real science behind the healing effects of sipping hot chicken soup, so much so, a 1999 article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggested chicken soup, relished for nearly 10,000 years, and considered medicine by Ancient Greek physicians, be labelled an essential drug.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center put chicken soup to the test in an in vitro study and found chicken soup “significantly inhibited” neutrophil migration.”

Neutrophils are white blood cells that help fight infection and heal damaged tissue. Although neutrophils are the immune system’s first line of defence, decreasing the inflammatory response can not only help prevent chronic inflammation, but, in the case of a common cold, reduce symptoms, researchers say. Research shows symptoms of a cold are as a result of the body’s inflammatory response. Reducing the neutrophil activity helps reduce cold and flu symptoms, they say. Their study was published in the journal Chest in 2000. A 1978 study in the journal Chest also found chicken soup helps to relieve nasal congestion due to colds.

Traditional chicken soup

For the 2000 study, researchers used a traditional “grandma’s” chicken soup recipe from the Great Depression era. They added a full five-pound raw baking chicken to a large pot of cold water, brought it to a boil, then added three large onions, one large sweet potato, three parsnips, two turnips and 12 large carrots. They boiled it for 1.5 hours, skimming off the extra fat during cooking time, then added parsley and celery, and cook it for 45 minutes longer, then removed the chicken. Passing the broth through a sieve prevents accidental choking on small chicken bones. The chicken meat was not left in the soup. It can be reserved for other recipes. Researchers processed the cooked vegetables in a food processor until they were finely chopped, then added it back to the broth. Salt and pepper can be added to taste.

The combination of chicken broth and vegetables in the soup, with their antioxidant and medicinal properties, is what creates the medicinal benefits, researchers say.

Photo credit: © airdone via Canva.com

Sari Huhtala is the publisher and editor of Alive and Fit Magazine, which she created in 2007. She has over 25 years experience in journalism and over 15 years experience as a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor. She is an organic farmer, wild-crafter and grandmother, who has spent over 20 years of navigating a holistic, healthy path for her family.

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