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 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 experimented to see the effects of chicken soup on immune system cells.
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 bodies of healthy people quickly eliminate the virus itself, but the effects of cytokines make you miserable. Chicken soup was shown to stop the movement of a particular type of cytokine-producing cells called neutrophils. Of course, this experiment was conducted on a Petri dish and means that scientists can only conclude the effects of chicken soup on a live human.
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 you get enough sleep, drink lots of water, and if you 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.