Does science support food remedies such as warm milk or chicken soup?

Aug 5, 2019 | | Say something

According to a 2000 study from the University of Nebraska, it was shown that a homemade chicken soup inhibits the activity of white blood cells that cause inflammation in blood samples of volunteers.

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You are likely to be familiar with at least one of these long-standing food solutions: drink warm milk to help you fall asleep; eat chicken soup to cure a cold; drink plum juice to relieve constipation; and so.

Many natural food remedies have existed for years and years, even centuries, passed down from generation to generation.

However, have you ever wondered if such remedies really work? Is there scientific evidence to consider them worth adding to your recipe list?

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Here is a look at what medical science says about five common "general remedies."

Peppermint tea eliminates swelling

The idea that drinking peppermint tea relieves digestive discomfort comes from positive studies on peppermint oil capsules and the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Several clinical trials have shown that taking peppermint oil capsules with enteric coating reduces bloating, abdominal pain and gas in people with IBS. (The enteric coated capsules prevent the stomach and are released into the small intestine).

Peppermint oil contains an essential oil called menthol that, in animals, has been shown to relax the smooth muscle of the gastrointestinal tract, decrease intestinal motility and relieve pain.

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However, mint tea has not been studied. Even so, it is possible that it may have similar effects.

If you want to try it, consider using a handful of fresh mint leaves instead of a tea bag to make your tea. Research suggests that if you do, you will extract twice the amount of menthol.

Note: If you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), peppermint (and spearmint) can trigger symptoms.

Chicken soup cures a cold

Despite being probably the best cure for everyone, there is no evidence to prove that eating chicken soup is effective in treating the common cold. However, there are theories drawn from laboratory studies on how the traditional remedy could help reduce the cold.

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According to a 2000 study from the University of Nebraska, it was shown that a homemade chicken soup that contains chicken, many vegetables, parsley, salt and pepper inhibits the activity of white blood cells that cause inflammation in the blood samples of volunteers. It was thought that this could reduce the flow of mucus and relieve nasal congestion.

Another study (1978) found that drinking hot chicken soup increased the speed of nasal secretions in 15 healthy volunteers, a result that could help clean the stuffy nose. However, the effect lasted only 30 minutes and drinking hot water had the same effect.

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Still, there is no reason not to eat chicken and vegetable soup when you're sick. It is tasty, nutritious and also helps you hydrate.

Prunes treat constipation

This well-versed remedy has scientific support. A 2014 review of four randomized controlled trials concluded that eating eight or 10 prunes per day for three weeks increased stool weight and stool frequency in individuals with constipation and without constipation. Prunes were more effective than psyllium.

And an essay published earlier this year found that among 120 healthy adults who ate a low-fiber diet, eating eight or 12 prunes per day for a month significantly improved the frequency of bowel movements.

Prunes contain fiber (5.6 grams per eight prunes), both insoluble fibers that increase stool volume and soluble fibers fermented by bacteria in the colon. Prunes also have sorbitol, a natural sugar, which has a laxative effect on some people.

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Whole raisins can be more effective than plum juice, since they are higher in fiber and sorbitol. Eight prunes have 184 calories, almost the same as two medium apples.

Warm milk helps you fall asleep

The claim that milk is a sleep aid revolves around tryptophan, an amino acid that is used to produce serotonin in the brain. Serotonin, in turn, becomes the sleep hormone melatonin.

There is no evidence that milk induces sleep and, if it does, it is probably not due to tryptophan, which for starters is low in milk.

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In addition, to enter the brain, tryptophan has to compete against other amino acids in milk. Studies have found that eating protein-rich foods, such as milk, reduces tryptophan's ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.

If drinking warm milk helps you fall asleep, it may be because it is part of a bedtime ritual that mentally prepares you to sleep.

Ginger ale decreases nausea

Ginger, in the form of tea made from fresh or dried ginger root and ginger extract capsules, has been shown to reduce nausea related to pregnancy, dizziness, vertigo and hangover. Ginger owes its antiemetic effect to the active compounds in the root and rhizome called gingerols and shogaols.

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But here's the thing. There is little or no real ginger in most ginger ale. The so-called "ginger" comes from the "ginger flavor".

If you feel dizzy, try homemade ginger tea. Pour boiling water into a cup, add fresh grated ginger root, or slices, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is Director of Food and Nutrition at Medcan.

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. (tagsToTranslate) Leslie Beck (t) Food remedies (t) Peppermint tea (t) Chicken soup (t) Prunes (t) constipation (t) nausea (t) Ginger ale (t) irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (t) common cold (t) ginger (t) milk (t) prunes (t) tryptophan (t) generation

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