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Will Chicken Noodle Soup Really Cure the Common Cold?


Photographer: m_bartosch, www.freedigitalphotos.net

We have all been there, we go to bed one night feeling fine (maybe a little off) and then the next morning we wake up, barely able to breath. Our throats are swollen to the point we think we have swallowed our own tongues. Heads are pounding, noses are running, the list of ailments goes on and on. It is surprising how something as basic as the common cold can feel so awful.

That was how I was feeling this morning–actually that is how I’m still feeling now. Miserable and sick, or sick and miserable, whichever way you want to say it. It took me an extra ten minutes to convince myself that I needed to open my eyes. Then as my beloved husband handed me my morning coffee, (which always makes everything better in my world) I could barely swallow it down. Not only was it hard to drink but it did not make it any better when I realized I could not smell it nor really taste it, my nose was plugged and my throat so swollen that not even my coffee tasted right.

Like every sick person, we all want to know how quickly we can get over it and what will help accelerate that progress. However, I am  not the typical sick person; I want the sickness over fast, but I do not want to do the normal things that make that happen. I hate going to the doctor (for anything) and worse than that I do not like to put medicine into my body. It is not that I think doctors are incompetent and useless or that medicine is terrible, I just prefer to take a more holistic approach to things. If you recall (from my post about Tufu Oatmeal Cookies) I am the girl who grew up in Oregon with a tree-hugging mom. So instead of running to the store and picking up a bottle of Nyquil, I drink lots of hot tea with honey, take vitamin C and zinc, and look for natural remedies.

My mom (yes that would be the tree hugger again :)  ) always said chicken noodle soup will cure a cold. In fact when I was growing up anytime I got sick I was handed a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a glass of orange juice. Not that those two taste particularly enjoyable together, but apparently those two things were going to make me better. For the most part they did. Was that because I believed it or is there actually supportive medical evidence that chicken noodle soup can cure the common cold?

Scientists have discovered that chicken noodle soup helps alleviate cold symptoms and chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory as well as a decongestant. Hmm, maybe my mom was onto something.

Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center did a clinical study to prove that chicken soup acts like an anti-inflammatory. The common cold and its symptoms are often caused by inflammation produced when neutrophils–a type of white blood cell–travel to and accumulates in the bronchial tubes. In his study he demonstrates that neutrophils show less inclination to congregate when chicken soup has been introduced.

Pulmonary specialist and professor at the UCLA school of medicine, Dr. Irwin Ziment notes that chicken noodle soup contains drug-like agents similar to modern cold medicines. Basically the amino acids released during the process of cooking the chicken resembles that of a drug called acetylcysteine which is prescribed for those with bronchial problems.

Spice up your soup a little garlic and pepper, eat it hot and you have a powerful combination of ancient medicine mixed with modern magic. The spices and heat will naturally work to break up the mucus thus making it much easier to breath.

It looks like my mom and many other parents who claimed that chicken noodle soup was a cure-all may not have been wrong, even if they had no idea why it worked. And truth be told with the way I’m feeling right now, I’m not really sure I have the energy to understand it all either. What I do know is that I think I will go heat up a healing bowl of soup, maybe drink some orange juice and head to bed.

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