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


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 Style Chicken Soup

We all know that chicken soup is good for you.

“Dr. Stephen Rennard, a pulmonary expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, found evidence the soup contains anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent a cold’s miserable side effects.” – ABC News

This is a recipe for Chinese-style Chicken Soup… I know this isn’t a good photo but I forgot to take a proper one…

Chinese chicken soup


  • Chicken soup ingredients
  • 2L water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500g chicken

Chicken Soup Ingredients:

This is what I could find on the subject. 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.

  • Chuan Xiong (Ligusticum wallichii) – commonly called Szechuan lovage. It is from the carrot family.
    • Contraindications: pregnancy and breastfeeding.
    • Indications: headache, pain, insomnia, acid reflux, diarrhoea, indigestion, cough.
    • Actions: analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, sedative, expectorant.
  • Kan Chow (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) – commonly called Chinese licorice.
    • Contraindications: pregnancy and breastfeeding.
    • Indications: bronchitis, acid reflux, arthritis
    • Action: antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, laxative, antioxidant, anti-viral
  • Kee Chi (Lycium barbarum) – commonly called wolfberry or goji berry.
    • Contraindications: pollen allergy.
    • Indications: asthma, cough, pain, anxiety, blurred vision, diabetes, anthritis, dizziness.
    • Action: analgesic, anti-cancer, antioxidant, nootropic, sedative, anti-aging, anti-fungal, immunity booster, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory.
  • Kwai Pi – couldn’t figure out what this was. If you do know what it is, please leave me a comment. Thanks.
  • Yok Chor – couldn’t figure out what this was. If you do know what it is, please leave me a comment. Thanks.
  • Chuan Hua Chiao (Zanthoxylum) – commonly called Sichuan pepper.
    • Contraindications: Pregnancy and breastfeeding.
    • Indications: arthritis, rheumatism, sore throat, digestive disorders, obesity, tooth ache.
    • Action: antifungal, antiseptic, immunity booster, anti-microbial, digestive, antioxidant, expectorant.
  • Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis) – commonly called Chinese Angelica
    • 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.
  • Shu Di (Rehmannia) – commonly called Chinese Fox Glove Root.
    • Contraindications: pregnancy and breastfeeding.
    • Indication: cancer, kidney disease, asthma, baldness, arthritis.
    • Action: anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, immunity booster, anti-fungal, anti-pyretic, an-arthritic, laxative, antihypertensive, antiseptic, diuretic, hypoglycemic.


  • 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.