One of the state’s top-ranking doctors says Iowans who are sick with sneezing and the sniffles might find some legitimate relief in an old-fashioned remedy. Dr. Patty Quinlisk, medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, says a study has found chicken soup really does contain healing properties to fight the flu or a cold.
“They looked at people who had these viral illnesses and, believe it or not, gave some of them chicken soup and didn’t give some of them chicken soup and watched which group did better,” Quinlisk says. “The chicken soup-eating group did better and got well faster and felt better. The bottom line is, our grandmothers were probably right and chicken soup really does work for the colds and flues.” Quinlisk, the state’s chief epidemiologist, says sometimes it’s the simple solutions to life’s troubles that work the best.
“When I have a bad cold and when I drink things like warm fluids, especially broth, I do feel better,” Quinlisk says. “I always thought it was just because of the warmth and the steam rising and all of that, but it looks there’s a little more to it.” She says the study couldn’t nail down anything specific in the chemical makeup of chicken soup which could be attributed to its apparent medicinal properties.
“There’s something in chicken soup that actually is anti-inflammatory, in other words, it has the same action as Tylenol or an aspirin would,” Quinlisk says. “It basically stops the immune systems from overreacting.” She says the study also tested out homemade chicken soups versus store-bought brands and found all of them seemed to help cure the ills and chills of a winter bug. Still, she says, the homemade kind may have a psychological advantage.
“Maybe the homemade one gives you a little bit better feeling because your mom or grandma actually made it for you,” Quinlisk says. “I think the bottom line is, any of these will probably work.” The good doctor swears the study was not funded by any companies involved with selling soup. Or chickens.