Chest 2000 Oct;118(4):1150-7

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Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro.

Rennard BO, Ertl RF, Gossman GL, Robbins RA, Rennard SI

Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Section, Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA.

[emphasis and notes added]

Chicken soup has long been regarded as a remedy for symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections. As it is likely that the clinical similarity of the diverse infectious processes that can result in "colds" is due to a shared inflammatory response, an effect of chicken soup in mitigating inflammation could account for its attested benefits. To evaluate this, a traditional chicken soup was tested for its ability to inhibit neutrophil [white blood cells that kills germs and also cause the inflammation or "cold" symptoms when they overdo it] migration using the standard Boyden blindwell chemotaxis [movement of a cell in reaction to a chemical] chamber assay [test] with zymosan-activated serum and fMet-Leu-Phe as chemoattractants [the stuff to make the cells move]. Chicken soup significantly inhibited neutrophil migration and did so in a concentration-dependent manner. [the more soup, the more it stopped the cells from migrating] The activity was present in a nonparticulate component of the chicken soup. All of the vegetables present in the soup and the chicken individually had inhibitory activity, although only the chicken lacked cytotoxic [cell-killing] activity. Interestingly, the complete soup also lacked cytotoxic activity. Commercial soups varied greatly in their inhibitory activity. The present study, therefore, suggests that chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity. A mild anti-inflammatory effect could be one mechanism by which the soup could result in the mitigation of symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections.