chicken soup versus the common cold

I remember reading years ago on some of the ‘common’ (and not so common) cures for the common cold. Well, nothing seems to actually cure it, but some things make the symptoms bearable. Has 21st century science figured out why chicken soup works in most people yet? I seem to remember that they knew it worked, but not why. Also, double dosing on Vitamin C, Echinacea, and other vitamin/homeopathic remedies… any clear victor? -Jakeofalltrades1964

The leading theory behind why chicken soup might help with a cold is that it just makes you feel darn good to have it. It’s comforting, and that might do more to the immune system than just about anything out there. There is a variety of evidence that shows that just being in the care of someone is enough to shorten a recovery period, rebound from a virus, make one’s aching back feel better.

I can’t cite any of this, but it’s based on years of reading a variety of skeptical literature and reading about those debunking various quack medicines.

Vitamic C? No.

Zinc? Maybe/probably.

That’s all I got on the subject.

A friend of mine swears by menudo. (Not Menudo.) Good for hangovers too.

Edit: Sorry, not a Jr Mod. =)

Hot soup can ease the stuffed up noses, I’ve read.

I will second the placebo effect as likely being, at least partly, responsible (Though current understanding of the placebo effect is that it is purely emotional – it doesn’t seem to do anything but reduce the sensation of pain).

Further, chicken soup is mostly water (and Docs will tell you all about the fluids you need to imbibe - especially when ill). However, probably the most important factor is that chicken soup has been found to contain medicinal qualities that reduce certain inflammation and inhibit mucus production in our chest (two reasons we feel pretty lousy when we have a cold).

The Univ. of Nebraska medical Center did some research on this a few years back.

Turns out grandma was right…

Oops, left that incomplete…

As for the rest you mention; there is little evidence to suggest that vitamin C does anything particular to combat a cold (in fact too much might be detrimental). Echinacea also has little support. In general, it would be prudent to be wary of any new age “remedies”. Though some may indeed really help (a la chicken soup above) many such “cures” are either misattributed through correlation or otherwise in error in their claims.