But there’s still something left from the chicken that proponents of chicken soup say, make it a true natural healer. “When I was a kid I didn '’t realize why, but it always made me feel better,” says Nadine Greenspan, Nelly’s daughter. Yeah, but is it just a placebo?
Dr. Neil Schacter, a pulmonary specialist at Mt. Sinai Medical Center and author of the Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds and Flu says, “It wasn't until late in the 20th century that studies have actually been done. The first studies came out of Mt. Sinai, not inappropriately. The study basically showed that using chicken soup as opposed to other soup: vegetable soup, tomato soup, is actually more effective in reducing the symptoms and shortening the duration of a cold.”
Believe it; the science is substantiated in a study out of the University of Nebraska, in the highly respected journal “Chest”. “It has shown that some of the vapors which contain oils suppress cytokines. These are chemicals that the body produces to help protect against infection. Unfortunately, they also give us some of the symptoms that we recognize as the cold itself. What the vapors of the chicken soup do is suppress these cytokines and basically make you feel better,” says Dr. Schacter.
Now, the researchers were not able to identify the exact ingredient or ingredients in the soup that made it effective against fighting colds. But it’s not just the chicken, and it’s not just the vegetables. It’s everything. And get this: canned soups were found to be even more effective at suppressing the white cells than was the homemade soup in the Nebraska study.
But-- they don’'t have one key ingredient that might add a placebo benefit. “Of course, there is the love that goes into making the chicken soup,” says Dr. Schacter in a moment of non-scientific, but rather, holistic thought. “Food was a way for her to show us that she cared about us, so definitely a good bowl of soup would make you feel better no question about it,” says Nadine.
By the way, the soup in the Nebraska study, which they called “"grandma’'s soup” " contained chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems, parsley, salt and pepper. Campbell's Healthy Request chicken noodle soup and Progresso’s chicken noodle soup were the canned soups studied. For the record, neither Campbell’s nor Progresso, nor Nadine Greenspan's mother Nelly paid us for the plug.