OK In Health - Happy Holistic

Chicken Soup for the Cold - February 2020

By Alexis Costello, Kelowna, BC

chicken soupWhat is this world coming to when you can’t trust frozen dinners anymore? Previously Nestle issued a recall of 879 565 pounds of Lean Cuisine chicken meals that may contain bits of hard blue plastic. I’ve been biting my tongue ever since, trying not to suggest that the plastic might be a better choice nutritionally…

Plastic bits aside, chicken can be tricky. The meat is often full of antibiotics such as penicillin that can cause low-level allergic reactions in susceptible consumers while also contributing to the ‘super bug’ phenomenon; bacteria that have been so bombarded by antibiotics that they have developed immunity. These were the kind of facts that motivated many to become vegetarians. But what about good old chicken soup?

Legend has it that chicken soup was first prescribed by a twelfth century doctor named Moses Maimonides as a cold and asthma remedy. This has persisted in folk medicine right up until now. Some say that it is the steam from the soup that makes you feel better and that any hot beverage would do the same.

But now, we have the technology and believe it or not, laboratory tests have concluded that chicken soup actually can help fight a cold. A report by CNN published in October 2000 showed that grandma’s soup helps stop the movement of neutrophils. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that is necessary to fight off an infection, but neutrophil activity can cause the release of mucus and aggravate coughs and stuffy noses when the cells mass together in one place. When chicken soup was in the body, neutrophils showed fewer tendencies to congregate, reliving the congestion, but still maintained the same efficacy against the virus and bacteria.

Irwin Zimmit, MD and pulmonary specialist at UCLA School of Medicine, says that certain substances produced by chicken as it cooks are very similar to certain modern medicines. For instance, one of the amino acids released has a chemical structure that closely resembles the drug acetylcysteine which is prescribed for bronchitis. And if you are not sick, but are surrounded by people sneezing and hacking, soup can still be helpful. Chicken soup enhances the function of cilia which are the little ‘hair’ projections that line the inside of the nose and throat and stop airborne pathogens from getting to far into the body.

Of course, it’s not just the chicken that makes the difference; other ingredients can be helpful too. Most soup packs a hefty helping of garlic, a major anti-inflammatory and immune booster. Onions are blood cleansing and can reduce coughing as well and spices like black pepper and rosemary are great for opening up the bronchial system and reducing pain.

And it appears that the benefits of this soup are not limited to humans. China Daily reported a few months back that two young panda bears in the Wuhan zoo were being fed pounds of chicken soup twice a month to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. As pandas are extremely endangered, they are much better taken care of than most of us are when we get sick, so there must be something to this after all!

Alexis CostelloAlexis's Bio: Alexis Costello is a natural health practitioner specializing in applied kinesiology, Bach Flower Remedies, massage and herbology. Her 'passion for plants' brought her and her family to Costa Rica for six months of adventure studying herbs in the rainforest; learning everything she could from 'curanderos', medicine men, shaman and the local folk medicine. Alexis also runs a fun integrated learning/healing centre called Happily Holistic in Kelowna, Okanagan, BC. Alexis Costello is a proud mommy to ten-year-old twins and a brand new baby. She wants to help other holistic mamas and kids to be their best in this wild world. In the ‘Parenting Tips’ column she write about children's health. Alexis formerly wrote a column on ‘Nutrition’ and "Wandering Herbalist" for OK in Health. - Alexis Costello Website - Email

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