Chicken Soup & the Flu

presented "without permission"  for information purposes only

Is chicken soup good medicine?
Broadcast: Jan 16, 2001
Producer: Carmel Smyth; Reseacher: Mike Gordon

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Chicken Soup & the Flu


Chicken soup has been called "Jewish penicillin." But many cultures have their own version. The one thing all have in common - besides chicken - is the belief a cup of soup can help cure a cold.

Dr. Stephen Rennard, a pulmonary specialist at the University of Nebraska's Medical Centre, wanted to see if there was science behind claims that chicken soup had medicinal qualities

"What we study is inflammation,"

According to Dr. Stephen Rennard, a pulmonary specialist at the University of Nebraska's Medical Centre. "What we study is inflammation,"..."In fact, inflammation in the lungs or airways is likely a very important cause for the symptoms people get when they get a cold."

One day we were discussing chicken soup," Rennard explains. "My wife says that grandma says this is good for colds, and I said maybe it has some anti-inflammatory action."

So Rennard put his theory to the test. He added his wife’s home made soup to white blood cells called neutrophils. They're the cells which rush to attack an invading virus. That can cause the buildup of fluids in the chest.

Rennard suspected the soup would slow the cells' movement and reduce congestion. So he tested the homemade chicken soup and thirteen store-bought soups.

Rennard found that his wife's homemade soup did slow the neutrophils. But a third of the store bought soups slowed the cells even more. Knorr's chicken noodle was most effective followed by two kinds of Campbell's, a Lipton and a Progresso chicken soup.

Here's the list of soups Rennard used - in order of how effective they were in slowing the progress of colds and flu.

  1. Knorr's Chicken flavour chicken noodle
  2. Campbell's Home cookin' chicken vegetable
  3. Campbell's Healthy request chicken noodle
  4. Lipton cup-o-soup, chicken noodle
  5. Progresso Chicken noodle
  6. Grandma's Soup
  7. Health Valley 100% Natural chicken broth
  8. Healthy Choice Thick and heart country vegetable
  9. Progresso Hearty vegetable and pasta
  10. Campbell's Vegetarian vegetable
  11. Campbell's Vegetable soup with beef stock
  12. Health Valley Fat Free Garden Noodle
  13. Cup o' Noodles, oriental Nissin
  14. Campbell's Ramen noodles, chicken flavour

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