When the nose is stuffy and the throat is sore, some people swear by chicken soup. This old home remedy is said to relieve the symptoms of a cold. We reveal what’s behind the tip.
Many people catch a cold, especially in autumn and winter. Many people with a cold use home remedies to relieve symptoms. One of the most popular is the good old chicken soup: Around a third of the soon to be 3,000 Europeans surveyed in a study by the Essen University Hospital reach for the classic when they have a scratchy throat, cough and runny nose. But is the home remedy really effective for relieving symptoms?
A cold is one of the most common infections – adults get an average of two to four colds a year. In children, there can be up to ten illnesses a year. Viruses are usually responsible for the stuffy nose and sore throat. Around 200 viruses can cause a flu-like effect, including rhinoviruses and adenoviruses. It usually begins with a scratchy throat, followed by a runny nose, headache, body aches and a cough. As a rule, the symptoms usually disappear within seven days. Even if the inflammation of the upper respiratory tract caused by the common cold is one of the mild infections, the symptoms are very unpleasant.
Effect of chicken soup examined in a laboratory study
No wonder, then, that people are looking for home remedies that promise relief. The warm chicken soup is the classic among home remedies. Depending on the type of preparation, it contains chicken and fat, celery and carrots in a broth. “There are hardly any studies on whether chicken soup or hot milk with honey really help with a cold. These foods are also too diverse for all their possible effects to be captured in one study,” said nutrition researcher Axel Lorent to “Spektrum”.
But: In the year 2000, scientists examined a homemade chicken soup and one from the supermarket shelf in the laboratory. They tested the effect of the soups on a serum in a test tube. This serum mimicked inflammation and infection in the human body. The result: the chicken soup had a slowing effect on certain white blood cells. “These are so-called neutrophils, which are jointly responsible for inflammatory processes. Neutrophils are released in large quantities, for example, in the case of influenza infections and ensure, among other things, that the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract swell,” explained Dr. Ursula Marschall, senior physician at the Barmer health insurance company, in a statement. She was not involved in the study.
The researchers assume that the chicken soup could have a positive effect on anti-inflammatory processes in the body. However, the scientists only examined one serum in the laboratory – this type of study cannot clarify how the chicken soup affects the human organism. Means: It can only be used as an indication of the positive effect of chicken soup.
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The warmth of the soup definitely helps with a cold
Chicken meat also contains the protein cysteine, which has an anti-inflammatory effect and has a decongestant effect on the mucous membranes, said Ursula Marschall. “Chicken soup also helps with its warmth when eaten hot. It improves blood flow, which makes it easier for immune cells to get everywhere.”
And: The liquid supply via the soup is an advantage. Drinking a lot (taking in a lot of fluids) is the be-all and end-all when you have a cold – this way the mucous membranes do not dry out, the mucus in the nose and throat remains liquid and can be secreted better. In addition, people with a cold should stay in bed and recover. When you have an infection, your body needs rest and sleep. In this way, patients can support the body’s defenses.
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I’m Caroline, a journalist and author for 24 Hours Worlds. I specialize in health-related news and stories, bringing real-world impact to readers across the globe. With my experience in journalism and writing in both print and online formats, I strive to provide reliable information that resonates with audiences from all walks of life.