Why Does Chicken Noodle Soup Cure Common Cold

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, University of Washington School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, Seattle, WA Also reviewed by David C. Brenda Conaway, the editorial director, Dugdale, MD, the medical director, and the A D. A. M. Editorial team.

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At least as far back as the 12th century, chicken soup has been used as a common home remedy for the common cold. If you have a cold, eating chicken soup won’t hurt you, but it won’t make it go away.

Barrett B. Acute respiratory infection colds and flu. In: Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 19.

Other theories claim that chicken soup helps keep you hydrated and soothes a sore throat. But a recent study from the University of Nebraska found that chicken soup may contain anti-inflammatory substances that could help alleviate a cold.

Various vegetables and stock or broth are used to make chicken soup. The chicken bones are cooked for several hours in a stock. This allows minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and seepage into the liquid stock. Since a broth is usually made solely of meat, these same minerals won’t be present in it. However, don’t undervalue broth’s nutritional value; it’s still packed with minerals like phosphorus and selenium. Naturally, a range of vegetables are used to make stocks and soups, including celery, onions, carrots, leeks, parsnips, and turnips; all of these vegetables’ minerals seep into the liquid.

According to a few scientific studies, zinc can help shorten the length of a cold. Nevertheless, you must begin taking more zinc within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. It’s difficult to determine whether chicken soup contains enough zinc to be beneficial because many of these studies were conducted with lozenges or supplements.

Another comfort food that’s frequently given to sick children is chicken soup. Both adults and children may benefit emotionally and psychologically from a steaming bowl of soup.

Jewish scholars have praised chicken soup’s healing properties for a range of illnesses, including the common cold, since the 12th century. Even now, when you’re sick in bed, someone has brought you a steaming hot bowl of soup or reminded you of its benefits. Do folktales about the health benefits of chicken soup truly exist, or is there a more plausible way to treat a cold?

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