Survey supports UNMC research on chicken soup

December 02, 2002

As cold and flu season descends on the United States, a recently released national survey of 20,000 family physicians confirms what moms have known all along - eating chicken soup can help manage the misery of cold symptoms.

picture disc. The findings of the survey reaffirm research done earlier at UNMC that suggests chicken soup may contain a number of substances that can ease the symptoms of upper respiratory infections. The research, done by Stephen Rennard, M.D., Larson Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Section at UNMC, was published in CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, in 2000.

"The survey is a public opinion piece and shows there's continued interest in chicken soup," Dr. Rennard said.

The survey

In the recent survey, 87 percent of the doctors surveyed, all members of the American Academy of Family Physicians, agreed that increasing fluid intake is key for cold sufferers, with two out of three agreeing that eating chicken soup is an effective way to increase fluids, second only to water. More good news: Your mother doesn't have to make it for you -- doctors agree that commercially prepared soups are just as effective.

Besides keeping nasal passages moist and preventing dehydration, chicken soup provides nourishment and soothes an irritated throat.

The research

In conducing his research, Dr. Rennard studied three batches of soup prepared in his home in his laboratory under controlled conditions. Researchers collected neutrophils from blood donated by healthy, non-smoking volunteers. The study focus was to find out if the movement of neutrophils -- the most common white cell in the blood that defends the body against infection -- would be blocked or reduced by chicken soup. Researchers suspect the reduction in movement of neutrophils may reduce activity in the upper respiratory tract that can cause symptoms associated with a cold.

"A variety of soup preparations were evaluated and found to be variably, but generally, able to inhibit neutrophil chemotaxis," Dr. Rennard said, noting the research "presents evidence that chicken soup might have an anti-inflammatory activity, namely the inhibition of neutrophil migration."