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Health & Wellness

Does Eating Chicken Soup Really Help with a Cold?

As a child sick in bed, your mom likely brought you a warm bowl of chicken soup, a soothing mug of herbal tea, or had you bite straight into a clove of garlic.

These old tried-and-true tricks have been used by mothers for centuries, but do they really work or are they only placebos?

bowl of chicken soup Warm Bowl of Chicken Soup

Ah, a classic. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a child who hasn’t had at least one bowl of chicken soup while suffering from the common cold. This is likely the most well-known home remedy for colds out there. What is it about this particular type of soup that is so good for relieving symptoms?

Believe it or not, a study has been conducted to answer this exact question. In 2000, Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center conducted a study to determine why chicken soup helps reduce the symptoms of a cold.

The study used his wife's recipe, which included chicken and a variety of different vegetables. The results of the study showed that chicken soup significantly inhibited neutrophil migration. 1

Neutrophils are the most common type of white blood cell that helps protect the body against infection. The symptoms you experience when you have a cold are actually the result of the immune response. By inhibiting the migration of these cells, the inflammatory response is reduced, and individuals experience fewer symptoms.

In another study published in 1978, researchers found that drinking chicken soup could help increase the movement of nasal mucus, making breathing easier. 2

So, the next time you’re suffering from cold symptoms, reaching for a nice warm bowl of chicken soup might not be a bad idea after all.

Herbal Tea Mug of Soothing Herbal Tea

There are many varieties of the classic herbal tea used to ease symptoms of a cold, but most include a combination of lemon, ginger, and honey. Lemon is high in vitamin C, which can help keep your immune system functioning properly. Ginger is warming, which can help you sweat out toxins. It can also settle upset stomachs and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Honey, especially local, raw honey, is high in antioxidants and is wonderfully soothing for a sore or itchy throat. Eating a spoonful of honey can also be used as a great natural cough suppressant.

Some renditions of this popular herbal tea also include turmeric, black pepper, cayenne, or cinnamon. Play around with the ingredients until you find a recipe that suits your own needs. A different blend of herbs can be chosen to deal with particular symptoms, as well. Try chamomile if you're having difficulty sleeping, peppermint or echinacea to ease congestion or lemon balm to ease stress and anxiety.

spoonful of garlic Spoonful of Raw Garlic

Did your mother or grandmother ever try to get you to take a bite out of a clove of garlic? It is thought that raw garlic can help alleviate symptoms of the common cold due to its antiviral and antispasmodic properties. Although biting directly into a clove of garlic may not seem too appealing, scientific studies back up this popular home remedy.

When a clove of garlic is crushed, allicin is released as a defense mechanism. Allicin has strong antimicrobial properties and can help alleviate some of the discomfort that comes with cold and flu symptoms. 3

If you prefer not to take a bite straight out of the clove, try chopping it up into small pieces and mixing it with a spoonful of local honey. This way, you get the benefits of both garlic and honey with the added benefit of sweetness.

Other Home Remedies

A bowl of chicken soup, a mug of hot tea, and a spoonful of garlic can do wonders for your health if you’re sick in bed with a cold. If you’re looking for other natural home remedies for the cold or flu, essential oils can help.

Antimicrobial oils such as cinnamon leaf or tea tree can be used in a natural disinfecting spray to disinfect surfaces in your home. They can also be diffused throughout your home to purify the air.

Sleep-promoting essential oils such as lavender or Roman chamomile can be used to help you get the rest you need, while decongestant oils such as eucalyptus and peppermint can help you breathe easier. For an easy on the go option, try breathing a blend of some of these essential oils through a personal diffuser.

No matter what your symptoms, there is an essential oil or home remedy that can help you get over them faster.

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