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Chicken Noodle Soup: An Effective Remedy For The Common Cold?

Last updated April 7, 2015

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Chicken noodle soup may not help cure the common cold, but it definitely helps to provide some comfort and reduce the severity of cold symptoms.

Chicken noodle soup has long been used in traditional medicine for curing fever and the common cold. The common cold is among the most frequent infections that occur in human beings and is characterized by a runny nose, increased mucus secretion, fever, congestion, and throat pain/irritation. Chicken noodle soup may not help cure the common cold, but it definitely helps to provide some comfort and reduce the severity of cold symptoms.

Chicken Soup improves mucus movement

Hot chicken soup was found to be more effective in increasing the movement of mucus in comparison to hot and cold water. If the mucus does not move quickly, it leads to congestion and blockage in the upper respiratory tract, causing uneasiness and difficulty in breathing. Chicken soup helps to thin the mucus, leading to faster movement, which, in turn, relieves congestion.

Chicken soup has an anti-inflammatory effect

A study published in the journal Chest in 2000 suggests that chicken soup has an anti-inflammatory effect that can aid in the management of upper respiratory tract infections. Additionally, chicken noodle soup was found to be more effective compared to many other varieties of chicken soup.

Chicken soup has a good amount of protein

Chicken is a good source of protein and contains an amino acid known as cysteine. This amino acid is similar to the acetylcysteine in the drugs used for lessening the severity of  bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These drugs ease symptoms by breaking down mucus buildup.

Chicken soup contains antioxidants

The chicken broth is prepared with vegetables that contain many beneficial antioxidants, which are also essential in fighting diseases. Each vegetable contains its own antioxidants, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, and a combination of these vegetables along with chicken make it a healthy food.

Chicken soup helps soothe the respiratory tract

Having chicken soup can be as beneficial as steaming. People usually use steam to help clear out the nasal cavity during a cold, but consuming chicken soup can have similar effects. The hot soup provides a substantial amount of steam and gives a soothing effect as it passes down the throat. This helps to clear the nasal cavity by thinning the mucus.

Chicken soup has other benefits

Chicken soup helps keep a person hydrated during an infection. It also reduces the amount of virus that is in contact with the nasal lining, thereby reducing the severity of symptoms along with shortening the duration of the infection.

Chicken noodle soup can be used as a healthy way to manage an infection and fever, as it provides signfiicant amounts of essential nutrients. During an infection, appetite can be affected, which leads to an inadequate intake of nutrients. It is important to eat healthy and stay hydrated in order to fight an infection. The noodles in the soup provide some amount of carbohydrates that can add to the caloric intake and be considered a wholesome food. It provides the much-needed comfort during an infection.

It turns out that grandma was right after all in giving chicken soup for a runny nose!


Galella, J.M. The Common Cold Plus Hot Soup Equals Lukewarm Results. Retrieved from http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/HotSoup.htm

(2013 Jan 15). Chicken Soup: Can it Cure a Cold? Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/in-depth/health-tip/art-20048631

Vorvick, L.J. (2012 Aug 14). Chicken Soup and Sickness.Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002067.htm

Saketkhoo, K., Januszkiewicz, A., Sackner, M. A. (1978). Effects of Drinking Hot Water, Cold Water, and Chicken Soup on Nasal Mucus Velocity and Nasal Airflow Resistance. Chest, 74(4), pp. 408-10. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/359266

Rennard, B.O., Ertl, R.F., Gossman, G.L., Robbins, R.A., & Rennard, S.I. (2000). Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro. Chest, 118(4), pp. 1150-7. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11035691

Olson, A. (2015 Mar 29). What is Cysteine?Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-cysteine.htm

Takahashi, K., Ohta, N., & Akiba, Y. (1997). Influences of dietary methionine and cysteine on metabolic responses to immunological stress by Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide injection, and mitogenic response in broiler chickens. British Journal of Nutrition, 78(5), pp. 815-821. Retrieved from http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=887564&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0007114597001840

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: April 7, 2015
Last updated: April 7, 2015