Tag Archive for alternative medicine

Chicken Soup Really is Good Medicine

Two excellent excuses to get the soup pot out right now? It’s cold and flu season and there is empirical proof that chicken soup has real help for cold sufferers.

One of the leading reasons the elderly become sick with cold (and pneumonia) is they are often undernourished. And without the proper nutrients, they lack the ability to fight off illness.

Chicken soup provides both preventative nutrition, and relief for symptoms.

Dr. Stephen Rennard of The University of Nebraska Medical Center studied the impact of chicken soup on a body suffering from the common cold.

Rennard looked at the role of white blood cells, in particular the neutrophil, a white blood cell. The cell’s movement was impacted by the body’s consumption of Grandma’s chicken soup. He found that the soup had “a kind of anti-inflammatory activity.”

Rennard’s study was published in 2000 in the International Journal CHEST, the Cardiopulmonary and Critical Care Journal, and has since been cited in more than 1,200 further studies and research.

Rennard and his wife, Barbara, share their recipe via Youtube, though they noted that further research showed the specifics of the recipe didn’t impact the results.

Other Cultures, Other Soups.

Another chicken soup, congee (also called okaku, jook, or juk), has long been recognized for its healing benefits in traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cultures.

Congee, a rice and chicken broth-based porridge, is easy on the digestive track. Recipes for congee often include ginger, which is widely known in Asia for its healing properties.

A printable version of the Rennard’s recipe is available here.

Alternative Relief for The Common Cold

It’s the cold season again, and you know it because your achy throat is warning you of the first sign of the sniffle onslaught.

Since not all Medicare plans cover over-the-counter medication, having an alternative plan for cold care is a good idea.  What are some of the best alternative remedies to relieve the symptoms of a common cold?

What Works

According to the Mayo Clinic, though there is still no cure for the common cold, home remedies help to make cold sufferers comfortable as possible. Their suggestions include:

  • Keep hydrated.  Drinking juice, water, broth or warm lemon water help to “replace fluids lost in mucus production.”
  • Rest. Yeah, we know you are busy and important, and the world won’t stop spinning without you running it. According to the Mayo Clinic, when you have fever or a bad cough, rest is what a compromised immune system needs to heal. Take the excuse, and take a day or two off to catch up on TV and napping.
  • Chicken soup.  It’s for more than the soul, as Granny knew. To read more on that, check out our follow up: “Chicken Soup Really is Good Medicine.”
  • Saltwater for sore throat. Recommended: about ½ tsp of salt in 8 oz. of water, gargled (don’t swallow it) to help ease the pain of sore throat.
  • Warm air, cool mist. Keep your room warm (not hot) and if the house is dry, use a vaporizer or humidifier to moisten the air.
  • Saline nasal drops. These drops are safe and effective, even for children, the Mayo Clinic advises, and should help ease congestion.
  • Try honey. To ease a cough, honey has been found to often be as effective as dextromethorphan. But never give honey to infants.

Mixed Results and Unproven Remedies

So what might not be worth the money or effort?

According to a study conducted by the Department of Infectious Disease at the Cleveland Clinic, the advice of inhaling steamy air “had no beneficial effect on cold symptoms.”

Additionally, the Mayo Clinic says that studies still have not shown conclusive results on the use of Vicks VapoRub: it is safe to use but will probably not relieve severe congestion.

Taking Vitamin C preventatively doesn’t seem to work, but taking it along with the onset of symptoms may shorten the length of time you suffer the symptoms. Taking too much vitamin C can cause severe diarrhea, a particular danger for elderly people.

Echinacea studies seem to give mixed results, possibly because of the variety and preparation of the plants. However, the experts say “using Echinacea supplements is unlikely to cause harm.”

Finally, the “miracle” remedy zinc, Mayo Clinic researchers say, is problematic since studies seemed to be flawed, they said. However, one important note was that intranasal zinc (zinc nose sprays) may cause permanent damage to the sense of smell.

When a Cough is More than a Cold

The mucus from a cold can often get infected and lead to deadly pneumonia. In seniors, a mild case deals a major blow to the immune system.

But pneumonia in the elderly in often even more of a problem, as they can be asymptomatic.

Be sure to see your doctor if you are coughing more than usual and or feeling rundown.