Why Do We Have Soup When We’re Sick?

If you have a cold, you’ve probably heard of the ancient remedy of drinking chicken soup. Like other disease-myths, people have always had their doubts. Is it just the placebo effect? Or perhaps it’s just correlation since colds get better on their own anyway? Could there really be scientific evidence to support this myth? Sick scientists all over the world probably asked themselves these same questions. A few decided to take matters into their own hands. They conducted an experiment to see the effects of chicken soup on immune system cells.

Inhibiting Neutrophils

When the cold virus infects your respiratory system, your immune system responds by releasing cytokines. These chemical markers are what cause the runny nose and congestion, also known as inflammation. The virus itself is easily eliminated by the bodies of healthy people, but the effects of cytokines are what makes you miserable. Chicken soup was shown to stop the movement of a special type of cytokine-producing cells called neutrophils. Of course, this experiment was conducted on a Petri dish and means that scientists can only draw conclusions about the effects of chicken soup on a live human.

Cold Remedies

So it is possible that chicken soup can have very slight anti-inflammatory properties that reduce your symptoms when you have a cold. Of course, it also helps to get enough sleep, drink lots of water, and if you really need to, take a decongestant. Hot, steamy showers can also help you breathe better and within a few days, you should start feeling better again.

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