From blood sucking leeches to tea, we’ve tried all sorts of remedies for the common cold.
Chicken soup is a popular choice – but is it effective, or an apocryphal solution?
“Chicken soup has value in that it’s a fluid, which helps you stay hydrated, and it has electrolytes in it, and these are good things for people who are sick,” says Daniel Flanders, a pediatrician in Toronto.
There’s some science to back this up, too. In a medical study published in the journal Chest, researchers found that the combination of certain ingredients, like vegetables and fats, provided anti-inflammatory benefits that can alleviate common cold symptoms.
In another study published in the same journal years prior, hot chicken soup was found to increase mucus flow in nasal passages more effectively than hot water or tea. Hot-water vapours are good, but chicken soup provided an additional boost to clearing colds.
Flanders says that chicken soup has even more benefits to kids with colds, too.
“If it’s a part of the family culture and tradition to give soup to a kid who’s sick and it’s been done generation after generation, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it, as it might have some healing aspect to it,” he says. Yes, that includes placebo effects like telling your kids grandma’s chicken soup is akin to a magical healing elixir.
Apart from chicken soup and constant hydration, the best treatment for the common cold is plain old rest, adds Flanders. If the person with the cold is feverish or very uncomfortable, acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help.
And when it comes to kids, “The other thing I tell parents is lots of cuddles and lots of care. And the soup is part of that,” says Flanders.
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