Medicinal Benefits of Chicken Soup

It has been cold, windy and we have been waiting by the window for snow one of these mornings! Winter is a time that we naturally hunker down to hibernate and can be the perfect time to make plans and dreams for our futures.  The body’s energy runs deeper in the winter and this is a time when we can build our Qi with meditation, extra sleep and eating nourishing, warming foods.

Chicken soup is a popular homemade soup that is an old standby for moms and dads when the sniffles come around.  In addition to being comforting, the ingredients of this traditional soup have medicinal properties to build our Qi and Blood. By nourishing our internal reserves, we are strengthening our immune system so that our bodies can fight off the bacteria and viruses that we come into contact.

Here is a brief summary of the medicinal properties of common chicken soup ingredients.  In addition, I like to add some Chinese herbs to my soup and have listed them here as well.

Chicken: its taste is sweet, its nature is warm, and it benefits the spleen and stomach. Chicken meat nourishes the qi and blood and tonifies the kidney and essence. It is used therapeutically for blood deficiency, emaciation, and persistent illness; and for heart palpitations and dizziness.

Garlic: its taste is pungent and sweet, its nature is warm, and it benefits the spleen, stomach, and lungs. It is used to promote digestion of foods, especially meats, to alleviate intestinal infections, and to treat coughing due to lung disorders.

Carrot: its taste is sweet, its nature is neutral, and it benefits the spleen, liver, and lung. It is used for indigestion, weak vision, and cough with fever.

Squashes, in general, are sweet, cooling in nature, and benefit the spleen, stomach, and lung. They are used for promoting urination and alleviating coughing.

Celery: its taste is pungent and sweet, its nature is cool, and it benefits the liver, stomach, and bladder. It is used for feverish feeling, dizziness, agitation, loss of appetite, and difficult urination. Most green leafy vegetables are slightly astringent, cool, and benefit the spleen and liver.

Green onion (scallion): its taste is pungent, its nature is warm, and it benefits the stomach and lungs. It is used for dispersing chill, relieving congestion, and relaxing muscle tension.

A packet of these Chinese Herbs can add a powerful punch to your soup as well as extra flavor.  I like to use the packet that is sold by one of my herb distributors.

Black fungus (wood ear): its taste is sweet, its nature is neutral, and it benefits the lung, stomach, and liver. It is used for dry cough, dry throat and mouth, and for other symptoms of dryness.

Lotus seed: its taste is sweet and astringent, its nature is neutral, and it benefits the spleen, kidney, and heart. It is used for loss of appetite and diarrhea due to weak digestion, for frequent urination, and for restlessness.

Lycium: its taste is sweet, its nature is neutral, and it benefits the liver and kidney. It is used for weakness due to overwork and aging, for weak vision, and for chronic cough.

Longan: its taste is sweet, its nature is warm, and it benefits the heart and spleen. It is used for deficiency of blood, with poor memory, heart palpitations, and weakness.

Astragalus: its taste is sweet, its nature is mildly warm, and it benefits the spleen and lung. It is used for all kinds of qi deficiency syndromes, especially when there is excessive sweating.

Dioscorea: its taste is sweet, its nature is mildly warm, and it benefits the spleen, lung, and kidney. It is used for the treatment of diarrhea and frequent urination.

Codonopsis: its taste is sweet, its nature is mildly warm, and it benefits the lung and spleen. It is used for all types of qi deficiency syndromes, especially when there is weak digestion. It is commonly used by Chinese herbalists as a substitute for ginseng.

Polygonatum: Its taste is sweet, its nature is mildly cold, and it benefits the lung and stomach. It is used for any kind of yin-deficiency syndrome, typically manifesting as fidgeting, dry mouth and throat, and dry cough.

Our Grandmother’s wisdom of the curative effects of chicken soup has been passed down the generations–she intuitively knew what was good for our bodies and our hearts when we were sick on the couch!