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Chicken soup for the common cold- remedy or not?

I have one humdinger of a cold.Have you ever cured a common cold with chicken soup?
Do you have a favourite chicken soup recipe?
Does your chicken soup have a secret ingredient?

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  1. I'm not speaking from any kind of expertise, but i was under the impression that it was more the broth that helped with the sickness. I know you need lots of liquids with a cold, and the steam from the hot broth helps with sinuses, and it is a soothing dish in general.

    1. absolutely. usually best when made by your Jewish mother or grandmother...but the local deli might do in a pinch ;)

      seriously though, it may be something of a placebo effect, but in all of the studies & articles i've read about it over the years, the consensus seems to be that there may actually be some merit to the myth, and that garlic, pepper, and yes, the chicken, are most likely the "secret" ingredients.

      garlic & pepper have been used for centuries to treat respiratory ailments because they have expectorant properties - they thin mucus and make it easier to breathe. inhaling the vapors/steam can also aid in relaxing congested nasal passages. and believe it or not, when you cook chicken it releases cysteine, an amino acid that has a similar structure to the drug acetylcysteine...which is often prescribed for respiratory problems such as bronchitis.

      hey, if nothing, else, it tastes good...and it's comforting when you feel like crap.

      1. I've always understood that chicken soup is medicinal because the nutrients and vitamins from the chicken and the chicken bones are released into the broth. Also, garlic is a great anti-toxin as is parsley. I truly believe capsaicin in chili peppers is good for congestion. So, when I make my chicken soup, I use a full head of garlic and throw in some serrano peppers.

        I also like Tom Yum from my favorite Thai restaurant when I'm sick. The spicier the better.

        1. When I have a cold, any hot brothy liquid helps me but mostly: chicken soup and ginger tea, not together of course....ack!!...but those 2 liquids really help me EVERY time. The soup does not HAVE to be my homemade but it does help!

          1. Absolutely! It is one of a number of things you can do to make yourself feel better. My Natural Health Remedy books says to eat lots of sauteed onions and garlic so make sure to include this. Here is a very yummy looking recipe that I found from Country Living. Mmmm-mmm. I hope it is comforting enough to sooth you in this time of sickness. Best wishes on the road to recovery and good health!


            1. I have had a sinus infection for the past couple of days, so I feel your pain. This is my go-to soup when I'm feeling under the weather. Not that I don't love homemade chicken soup (I do!), but this is my own thing, and far easier to throw together when you are uninspired to go gangbusters cooking:

              chicken stock
              lemon or lime juice
              one clove of garlic
              hot pepper flakes (we use Aleppo)

              Chop up the garlic and sautee it in a bit of olive oil (don't brown it, just use it to flavor the oil). Dump in the can of broth (I usually use the lower fat/lower sodium College Inn, but I like Emeril's box o'broth, too). If you have fresh lemon or lime, use the juice of 1/2 of the fruit. Otherwise, bottled lemon, lime or key lime juice will do the trick. This a.m., I used key lime. Bring the broth to a boil, then cook pastina in it. To make more of a meal out of it, beat an egg and add it to your soup when the pastina is almost done cooking.

              I hope you feel better--and hope I'm right there with you feeling better soon. Three days of antibiotics and I finally don't feel like someone punched me in the face. ARRRGGGH!

              14 Replies
              1. re: kattyeyes

                There you go! Garlic and hot peppers in your chicken broth. It works, doesn't it? Love the addition of the citrus. That would make it like Tom Yum, too.

                1. re: mollygirl

                  Well, it feels good (is soothing) and tastes good. Right about now I wish we had something with wasabi for dinner so I could just BREATHE. But I agree, I love soup like this when I'm sick. And Vietnamese pho is another good one as is Chinese hot & sour and, of course, tom yum. Know what else is helpful? SLEEP, so I will be getting some soon. Nite-nite. :)

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    Hope you feel better KE...and hope you saw a doctor...I had a sinus infection once that was the result of a cold and hope to never have another one...ever!

                    1. re: Val

                      Thank you, I did see my doctor on Weds. and am on antibiotics. Apparently, mold counts are really high in my area from all the rain we've had (I'm in CT) and I'm very allergic to mold. No fun whatsoever! :(

                    2. re: kattyeyes

                      You know what is excellent? Kimchee added to Saimin. I bet that would help clear out the sinuses. ;) Another suggestion for your sinuses (I used to get sinus infections all the time) buy an epi pot and use it. This helps tremendously. Also drinking really good oregano oil in your water a few times a day.

                      1. re: DishDelish

                        I crave wasabi for the same reason. ;) Do you mean a neti pot (what my friend's brother calls "the nasal douche")? HA HA. I have one of those, too. And I also recommend teas from Traditional Medicinals:
                        - Breathe Easy
                        - Throat Coat
                        - Herba Tussin
                        Want to know one I DON'T recommend (because it smells SO NASTY it leaves its stench behind in your teacup even after you wash it)? Yogi Tea Cold Season tea. I can't say it wasn't helpful, but it is just GROSS. It's one of those things you'd drink out of desperation only because you feel so crappy you hope it might help. And it probably does, but having had three of them with double infusions this past week, I am all set. YUCK! Mind you, Throat Coat is pretty strong, too, but it definitely helps.

                        What does oregano oil do? I don't have that, but I have tons of the hot & spicy variety growing on the porch. I could make an infusion, though it's probably just as tasty as the Yogi. ;)

                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          Oregano oil has potent antibacterial and anti fungal properties. I think it is awful, but sort of got used to it too. Put it in a small amount of water and plug your nose, then drink like a shot. My book says to take 500 mg or 0.5 ml four times daily or as the container directs.
                          Another good one is Grapefruit seen extract, available as a nasal spray for acute sinusitus.
                          My book says to avoid all mucus forming foods, which is probably a no brainer. Also don't do sugar, and fruit juices should be reduced or eliminated because they feed yeast which is generally present in those of us with sinus issues. Also cut out all alcohol, and restrict salt.

                          Recommended foods and drink: 1 glass of water every 2 hrs. Pleanty of herbal teas( which you mentioned), veggie juices, and broths. Chicken soup, especially with lots of veggies.
                          When you begin to recover focus on foods that produce little or no mucus, whole grains, fresh veggies and fruits, cold pressed oils, raw seeds and nuts.
                          Foods that aid mucus drainage and ease sinus pressure: Add cayenne, garlic, onions, or horseraddish to your soups or meals. For a powerful sinus remedy eat a small spoonful of crushed horseradish (probably wasabi too) mixed with lemon juice. Do this near a sink or have a towel ready.
                          Flaxseed or flaxseed oil will reduce inflamayion. Take a teaspoon everyday of the infection, or add some flax seed to cereals or salads, or drinks.
                          If you must take an antibiotic for infection make sure to consume a nondairy source for friendly bacteria, such as kefir or sauerkraut.

                          Most of these tips come from my Natural Cures book. Hope it helps. =)

                          1. re: DishDelish

                            Thank you--some of that I knew and some was new to me. More than one doctor told me about avoiding sugar because sugar feeds an infection--your explanation is even better. I will look into the grapefruit seed extract, too.

                            I didn't know sauerkraut is a friendly bacteria source. Maybe today it's German dinner, then (minus the alcohol, of course). Thank you very kindly!

                            1. re: kattyeyes

                              Your very welcome! ;) The sauerkraut thing surprised me when I first found out as well. =)

                            2. re: DishDelish

                              A while back when I was having terrible sinus problems (turned out to be mono), my neighbor, who's a practicing naturopath, told me to avoid both milk and wheat products. The milk I understand, but do you have any idea why wheat would be a problem?

                              1. re: Emmmily

                                wheat can cause an inflammatory response even in people who aren't necessarily gluten-intolerant or allergic. since inflammation is one of the issues with respiratory infections, avoiding wheat is more of a precautionary measure.

                                1. re: Emmmily

                                  I believe it is because you need to let all your body's energy reserves go to healing itself instead of digesting carbs. The wheat products are ok, though, when you begin to get better.

                                2. re: DishDelish

                                  At the risk of providing too much info (sorry), I wanted to send a special "thank you" to DishDelish. I am taking three different meds to try to get rid of this @$#%* sinus infection and I've felt like garbage for several days. Yesterday afternoon, I had a choice--add Afrin (which is nasty and can be addictive) to the regimen, or go natural and try one of the fruit- or herb-based sprays DishDelish mentioned above. They didn't have grapefruit seed extract as a spray, so I tried one made with wild oils of oregano, bay leaf and sage, clove bud oil, sea salt and spring water. It actually sort of (unfortunately) smells like the Yogi Tea I complained about earlier. But, can I tell you--it was the first thing that made a dent in all my congestion and pain! For days, it felt as though someone punched me in the face and I was having a hard time breaking. This stuff definitely helped tremendously. And, here's the clincher: of course, it's non-addictive. THANK YOU!!!

                                  P.S. The lady at the health food store added that sage tea is helpful for congestion.

                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                    I'm so happy to hear this! I'll have to remember the sage one ... they are always coming up with great new natural treatments. =) I hope you are 100% better very soon!

                      2. It might be a little late this time around, but I read somewhere that eating raw garlic at the very start of a cold can stop it in its tracks, and the few times I've tried it it's worked pretty well for me. No idea where i read this so I can't back up the science, but you're supposed to cut a clove up into pieces, let it sit out for a few minutes (something about the air reacting with a compound in the garlic?), then eat it - 2 cloves twice a day for a few days. I either swallow them like ills or put them on toast with cheese. You get some record-breaking garlic breath, but better that than a cold. And agreed with everything people have said about chicken soup and hot peppers being good when you're sick; I'd add cinnamon and ginger to the list (score one more for the tom yum). Hope you feel better soon!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Emmmily

                          I used to like a tortilla,chicken and tomato soup from a local mexican restaurant.

                          it had chicken breast,homamade tomato soup,cheese,hot peppers,toaritilla strips (homemade ones...)
                          -also came with a side of assorted homemade spicy salsas.
                          you would always leave there breathing much better :)

                          1. re: Emmmily

                            Raw garlic does seem to be an immune system booster (Dr. Weil and other sites suggest this)-but you don't need to chew it! I usually up my raw garlic during the "season" months here in SW FL with all the influx of people who come down for the winter, bringing tons of germs with them or if someone in my office is sick ... just crush it up & let it sit for about 7-10 minutes as you also say Emmmily, then I put it on the back of my tongue and gulp it down with warm water.

                            1. re: Val

                              I see I wrote "swallow them like ills" - nice freudian slip. I meant like pills. You're right- much as I love garlic, the taste of chewing up a raw clove is a bit much even for me.

                              1. re: Emmmily

                                Dish Delish, may I ask which natural cures book you are referring to? Picked one up at the library today by Kevin Trudeau. Thanks!

                                1. re: Val

                                  Did you mean to ask DishDelish? She's the one who mentioned a Natural Cures book. ;)

                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                    Quite right...thanks so much!

                                  2. re: Val

                                    It is by James F Balch, MD, and Mark Stengler, ND and it is called "Bottom Line's Prescription for Natural Cures. Much of the information has helped me, they do say to listen to your Doctors advice above all though. I have actually been able to avoid going to the doc. much more since following some of the tips in this book though. =)

                            2. I can't verify that it works but if anyone's going this route, you might want to look for a kosher chicken, or something very fresh and free-range. I've at least read recommendations to that effect.

                              1. "Have you ever cured a common cold with chicken soup?"

                                I havnt tried this myself but I'm sure I've read that if you have chicken soup once a day for a week, the cold will be better.

                                1. I have achieved excellent results with canned or boxed Swanson's chicken broth, chopped parsley and pressed garlic. If it was a cold, I felt better. If it was the heaves, the broth tasted as good coming up as it had going down, and eventually it stayed down and made me feel better. No magic, just good nutrients, good flavor, and much-needed liquid.

                                  1. Here is one article about a study of how chicken soup might help colds and other similar respiratory infections:
                                    Chicken soup is medicine, U.S. scientists confirm

                                    1. Who cares if it REALLY works or not. It sure seems like it does (and yes, Pho seems to be good, too). If it's a placebo effect, bring it on.

                                      BTW, it has always been my opinion that the secret ingredient is love, which is why store- or deli-bought chicken soup never seems to work as well.

                                      Not truth here at all, but it sure seems to work.