Chicken Soup for the Cold

Me: Chicken soup is supposed to be good for a cold.
DH: You mean it’s good for the soul?
Me: Haven’t you heard? Chicken soup is touted as a home remedy for cold and flu.

I hadn’t really dug into the legitimacy of the chicken soup remedy but I figured it was time to dig a little deeper. As it turns out, there really are some good reasons why we should take chicken soup when we’ve got a cold.

Here’s what a bowl of chicken soup does for your cold:

  • Clears congested sinuses –
    • hot fluids dilate the blood vessels, increase blood flow, and allow the mucous to flush out and relieve the congestion.
    • improves the function of the cilia (tiny hairs in our noses) that trap and clear out contagions.
    • chicken contains carnosine which reduces inflammation in the upper respiratory tract by stopping the migration of white blood cells.
  • Helps fight the cold by providing hydration – chicken soup contain salt and water which are great for hydration.

Science has begun to support what mothers have understood for centuries. The heat, salt, and hydration provided by chicken soup may actually fight the cold virus (NIH, 2012). Laboratory studies have shown that ingredients of a chicken soup with vegetables could kill viral cells and prevent the growth of new ones (Rennard, et al., 2000). The soup may also provide an anti-inflammatory effect in the upper respiratory tract that helps soothe symptoms (Rennard, et al., 2000). Unfortunately, the benefits of chicken soup appear to be limited by how quickly the soup leaves the body (Babizhayev, et al., 2012). – Healthline

Sources:

What are the Key Ingredients that Provide its Wholesome Benefits?

According to BBC Good Food, you need to include these ingredients:

  • Onions, garlic and vegetables for phytonutrients
  • Chicken bones which contain gelatine, glucosamine and chondroitin in the joint tissues.

Chicken Soup Recipes

So what chicken soup for the cold recipes can you keep up your sleeves? The “ABC Soup”  recipe which contains chicken, onions, carrots, tomatoes and celery which sounds like it fits the bill pretty well. If you want to up the ante, you could add some ginger. Although there is currently insufficient evidence to support these claims, ginger has a long history of being associated as a natural remedy for coughs, sore throats, nasal congestion, tummy upset, and headaches (which are all symptoms you might experience with a cold).

There are also more chicken soup recipes that you can find from Home Remedies for Life. If you’re not up for making your own chicken soup, not to worry, Dr. Stephen Rennard, a pulmonary expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, found that even canned chicken soups work, too.

Chinese Soup: Sip Chuan Tai Pu

It turns out that DH really hates herbal soups so I stopped making them for a while to give him a break (read: I was growing weary from all that negative feedback). Alas, I was too ambitious when I went shopping for herbal soup ingredients so here we are again…

This soup is called Sip Chuan Tai Pu. It is said to promote general health and is a nutritious and healthy soup beneficial for the whole family. Unfortunately, the taste didn’t go down well at all with my whole family – too “herby”, according to DH. I’m not particularly one for herby soups either but this one – though not among the better Chinese Herbal soups that I tried – was still a lot better than the brain soup. Ah well… We tried.

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Ingredients:

  • 500g chicken or meat
  • 1 tsp salt to taste
  • 2L water
  • Sip Chuan Tai Pu Soup ingredients

Sip Chuan Tai Pu Soup Ingredients:

  • Ligusticum Wallichi
    • Contraindications: pregnancy and breastfeeding.
    • Indications: headache, pain, insomnia, acid reflux, diarrhoea, indigestion, cough.
    • Actions: analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, sedative, expectorant.
  • Angelica Sinensis
    • Contraindications: pregnancy, breastfeeding, heavy menstruation. May cause stomach upsets, nausea and vomiting.
    • Indications: anaemia, atherosclerosis, allergy, constipation, blurred vision, cramps.
    • Action: analgesic, anti-cancer, nootropic, immunity booster, sedative, anti-ulcer, antianaemic, anti-viral, hypertensive, oestrogenic.
  • Paeonia Lactielora
    • Contraindications: pregnancy
    • Indications: used for gout, osteoarthritis, fever, respiratory tract illnesses, and cough; women use peony for menstrual cramps, polycystic ovary syndrome, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and for starting menstruation or causing an abortion. It is also used for viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, upset stomach, muscle cramps, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), to induce vomiting, spasms, whooping cough (pertussis), epilepsy, nerve pain (neuralgia), migraine headache, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Rehmannia Glutinosa
    • used for diabetes, anemia, fever, osteoporosis, and allergies; and as a general tonic.
  • Codonopsis Tangshen
    • use for: HIV infection, protect cancer patients against side effects of radiation treatment, boost the immune system, treat weakness, loss of appetite (anorexia), chronic diarrhea, shortness of breath, noticeable heartbeat (palpitations), asthma, cough, thirst, and diabetes.
  • Poria Cocos
    • Action: diuretic, antibacterial, relaxes the digestive system, reduces stomach acid, lowers blood sugar, and can strengthen cardiac contractility.
  • Atractylodes Macrocephala (Bai Zhu)
    • in traditional Chinese medicine, it is said to invigorate Qi and strengthen the spleen, eliminate dampness and promote diuresis, stop sweat, and prevent miscarriage.
    • Main clinical usage and indications are lack of appetite due to spleen deficiency, abdominal distension and diarrhea, dizziness and palpitation caused by phlegm and retained fluid, edema, spontaneous sweating, and fetal irritability.
  • Glycyrrhiza Uralensis
    • Contraindications: pregnancy and breastfeeding.
    • Indications: bronchitis, acid reflux, arthritis
    • Action: antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, laxative, antioxidant, anti-viral
  • Ziziphin Jujuba
    • alleviates stress and is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, antioxidant, immunostimulant, and wound healing properties.
    • Clinical trials have found it to be useful for chronic constipation and neonatal jaundice
    • Research also indicates nootropic (brain enhancer for memory, cognitive, intelligence) and neuroprotective properties
  • Astragali
    • Action: enhances immune system, diuretic, reduces blood pressure, anti-inflammatory, reduces stress
  • Cartex Cianamani – I couldn’t find any information on this particular herb

Method:

  • Put the meat into water and bring to the boil. Remove the meat and clean off the meat scum.
  • In a crock pot (slow cooker), place water, meat and soup ingredients. Turn on high heat until bubbling. Reduce to low heat and continue cooking for another hour or two.
  • Add salt to taste.

Disclaimer:

I’m not an expert on Traditional Chinese Medicine. I’m just a mother trying to understand the health benefits behind some of the commonly used herbs in Chinese cooking. You can believe it – or not (I don’t believe everything either) – I’m just the messenger so don’t shoot me.

One of the main problems with Traditional Chinese Medicine is the lack of proper documentation. Sometimes there is even a lack of agreement on what’s what. I’ve tried to make do with what I can find and decipher.

Recipes: Chinese Herbal Soup for Cough

G2 has been coughing a lot lately so my MIL suggested this soup. I don’t know what it’s called so I’ll just refer to it as the Chinese herbal soup for coughing. Here’s what’s in it…

Chinese herbal soup for coughing

Ingredients:

  • sea coconut
  • dried longans
  • goji berries
  • cordyceps? – the long yellowish herbs that look like worms – I’m not sure if this is cordyceps but cordyceps is generally used to treat coughs, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory disorders
  • half an old chicken
  • 1.5L water
  • salt/soy sauce to taste

Method:

  • Wash and soak dry ingredients for a few minutes, then drain and set aside.
  • Add meat to water and bring to the boil to remove the meat scum; remove from heat and wash off the meat scum.
  • Place everything into a slow cooker – meat, dry ingredients, and water – turn on high until water is bubbling, then reduce to low. Leave until dinner time.
  • Add salt or soy sauce for taste.

Verdict:

This one seems to have passed the taste test for both G1 and G2 so it’s a winner for us, too.

Chinese Herbal Soup: Song Kee Soup

Song Kee soup is believed to be rejuvenating. After everything that has been going on, I figured we all needed a bit of rejuvenating so I made this soup for the family to take. I bastardised the recipe a little and added red dates and some dried scallops.

Song Kee soup

Ingredients:

  • 1kg meat
  • 3L water
  • Song Kee soup ingredients
  • salt/soy sauce to taste
  • 8 red dates
  • 2 whole dried scallops

Song Kee Soup Ingredients:

  • Radix Astragali (Milk Vetch root; Huang qi)
    • enhances immune system
    • diuretic
    • reduces blood pressure
    • anti-inflammatory
    • reduces stress
  • Olive
  • Polyconattum (Solomon’s Seal)
    • used in treatment of diabetes
    • found to be effective in fighting nutritional hyperglycemia
    • used to treat pain, fever, inflammation, allergy, and weakness
    • in traditional Chinese medicine, it is supposed to strengthen various organs and enhance the qi
  • Radix Codonopsis Pilosulae (Dang Shen)
    • traditionally used to improve appetite and energy
    • Improves body function, anti fatigue
    • Stimulates nervous system, improves immune system
    • Increases red blood cells, white blood cells
    • Improves the function of macrophages
    • Enhances blood coagulation
    • Raises blood sugar
  • Dioscorea Batatas (Chinese Yam)
    • stimulates the stomach and spleen and has a tonic effect on the lungs and kidneys
    • speeds the healing process
    • traditionally prescribed to treat hyperthyroidism, nephritis and diabetes
    • treatment for tiredness, weight loss, poor appetite, poor digestion, chronic diarrhoea, asthma, dry coughs, frequent or uncontrollable urination, diabetes and emotional instability
    • contains diosgenin which has been used to treat a variety of diseases, including asthma and arthritis
  • Fructus Lycii (Goji Berry)
    • eye health
    • antioxidant
    • neuroprotective

Method:

  • Wash and soak dry ingredients for a few minutes, then drain and set aside.
  • Add meat to water and bring to the boil to remove the meat scum; remove from heat and wash off the meat scum.
  • Place everything into the pot – meat, dry ingredients, and water; bring to the boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for two to three hours.
  • Add salt or soy sauce for taste.

Verdict:

Everyone gave it the thumbs-up – extended family and all! Add another one to the list of “approved soups“!

Disclaimer:

I’m not an expert on Traditional Chinese Medicine. I’m just a mother trying to understand the health benefits behind some of the commonly used herbs in Chinese cooking. You can believe it – or not (I don’t believe everything either) – I’m just the messenger so don’t shoot me.

One of the main problems with Traditional Chinese Medicine is the lack of proper documentation. Sometimes there is even a lack of agreement on what’s what. I’ve tried to make do with what I can find and decipher.

Chinese Herbal Soup for Energy and Immunity

G2 has been falling ill quite a bit lately that we have become concerned about his immune function. Although they have been relatively minor illnesses, the frequency with which he is falling ill has been a little disconcerting. We were also concerned that his past dengue episode has somehow taken a toll on his immune function.

According to Surviving Yucatan:

  • A single dengue infection sets the patient up for future  more intense  dengue infections, with the symptoms getting worse with every subsequent infection, with the possibility of death increasing dramatically with every new infection.
  • Each dengue infection confers a very brief immunity (3-4 months) to ONLY that strain of Dengue, but that single infection leaves the patient even more susceptible to more serious symptoms from the other 3 remaining Dengue strains (serotypes).

Unfortunately, they don’t say much about what that might translate to in terms of exposure to other infections. Regardless, whatever it means, we’ve decided to bolster his immune system. I’ve adopted a mix of Eastern and Western medicinal remedies.

Chinese Herbal Soup to Boost Immunity

This is a soup packed by Koay Chee Cheong. I can’t read the writing so I have no idea what it’s called or what the ingredients contained within it are. I only know that it’s for “energy and boosting the body’s immunity” so we’re going to give it a go. Here’s a picture for those who can read Chinese:

Chinese soup for immune system

And this is what it contains if you didn’t get any of that…

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I don’t really know how to recognise the herbs very well, but these are the ones I do know: goji berries and dried longans. They also have what I think looks like Chuan Xiong, Lily Bulb, and Chinese Yam. There are a few more other herbs, unfortunately, I haven’t a clue what they are. If you recognise them, please leave me a comment.

Ingredients:

  • 2L of water
  • 500g meat (my MIL suggests using “old” chicken)
  • salt to taste
  • soup herbs

Method:

  • rinse the herbs, soak them and then drain the water
  • place water, meat, and herbs in a crock pot (slow cooker) in the morning to cook until dinner

More Chinese Herbal Soups:

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