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Chicken Soup

Common Name(s): Nikogori (chicken jelly soup)

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 2, 2024.

Clinical Overview


Clinical studies are lacking. A strong placebo effect may result from the social setting in which the soup is commonly delivered; however, the healing effect of chicken soup may be related in part to its nutritive value and in part to the effect of warm vapor on the nasal mucosa.


As a food or a remedy, chicken soup is administered by the cup or bowlful.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Generally recognized as safe (GRAS) or used as food; dosages above those in foods are unproven and should be avoided.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Anaphylaxis has been reported. Aspiration of bone material has been documented. Hypernatremia due to the sodium content has also been reported. Hyperuricemia is possible with soup made from bones.


Information is lacking.


Chicken soup is obtained from a hot water infusion of selected parts of the common chicken Gallus domesticus.Rennard 2000 Nikogori, or chicken jelly soup, uses the meat from chicken wings.Nagatsuka 2006


Chicken soup has long been recognized as an important part of the physician's armamentarium.Hopkins 2003, Ohry 1999, Rosner 1998 Therapeutic observations of chicken soup were recorded by Pedacius Dioscorides, an army surgeon under the emperor Nero, as far back as 60 AD in his pharmacopeia De Materia Medica. Aretaeus the Cappadocian (second to third century AD) is credited with describing how boiled chicken can treat respiratory tract disorders.Cohen 1991 In the 12th century, the theologian and physician Moses Maimonides wrote, "Chicken soup... is recommended as an excellent food as well as medication." He further specified that, when selecting a chicken, "One should not use the too large, that is of more than 2 years of age; nor the too small, that is those in whom the mucus still prevails; neither too lean, nor those who through feeding becomes obese; but those that are fat by nature without being stuffed."Caroline 1975, Hopkins 2003, Ohry 1999, Rosner 1998

In 1975, the editor of Chest published a spoof of uncontrolled studies entitled "Chicken Soup Rebound and Relapse of Pneumonia: Report of a Case" in which patients suffered severe pneumonia requiring a thoracotomy and treatment with penicillin after a course of self-treatment with chicken soup was discontinued.Caroline 1975 A flood of correspondence resulted over the next 5 years expounding the virtues of chicken soup. Claims have included antibacterial activity and use in the treatment of impotence, frustration, anxiety, and backache.Greene 1975, Lindsey 1976, Rosner 1980, Yablin 1975


The composition of chicken soup can vary considerably, due to the cooking technique, and often contains large amounts of vegetables. Chicken has been shown to contain the amino acid cysteine, chemically similar to the mucolytic acetylcysteine, which acts by cleaving disulfide bonds.Rosen 1994 Cholesterol and salt content of chicken soup may be of concern in vulnerable persons. Cooking chicken bones in the soup for a longer duration may increase its calcium content.Winter 1995 Chicken and rice soup and chicken noodle soup are the subject of some research, and as such have a different composition compared with basic chicken broth. Chicken leg bone soup has been evaluated as a source of chondroitin sulfate.Wang 2019

Uses and Pharmacology

Clinical studies are lacking and reports of efficacy from chicken soup administration may be subject to confounding or the "chicken soup paradigm,"(Lipman 2003) whereby healing is achieved through the provision of nutrients. A strong placebo effect may result from the social setting in which the soup is commonly delivered. The taste and smell makes blinding in such studies difficult.(Rennard 2000)


Clinical data

A study investigating food preference after colorectal surgery found that patients favored chicken noodle soup over clear fluids as an option for postsurgery nutrition,(Yeung 2009) and a further study found that chicken and rice soup increased fullness and satiety over solid food eaten with fluids.(Rolls 1999) A small study (N=41) evaluated the impact of a 'preload' chicken broth meal on eating behaviour, and reported changes in food choice (lowered intake of high-fat foods), but not overall calorific consumption.(Magerowski 2018)

Respiratory tract disorders

Clinical data

The effects of inhaling the warm vapors of chicken soup have been investigated experimentally.(Caroline 1975, Hopkins 2003, Jefferson 2002, Rennard 2000, Saketkhoo 1978, Weiss 1978) Inhalation of warm vapor increases the temperature of the nasal passages, loosening thick secretions, and increasing cilia function.(Hopkins 2003) Inhibition of neutrophil activity has also been demonstrated,(Hopkins 2003, Lavine 2001, Rennard 2000, Winter 1995) although some researchers question the logic of decreasing the neutrophilic response to infection.(Rennard 2020, Lavine 2001)

Other effects

Antioxidant activity has been demonstrated in vitro with chicken jelly soup, which is high in collagen protein.(Nagatsuka 2006)

Chicken noodle soup eaten before exercise has been shown to improve fluid balance and decrease changes in plasma volume compared with water alone.(Johannsen 2009, Johannsen 2013)

Older reports exist for chicken soup therapy in facial pain, asthma, lymphocytic thyroiditis, and rheumatoid arthritis.(Dorfman 1982, Marbach 1979, Rosner 1979, Toda 1997)


As a food or a remedy, chicken soup is administered by the cup or bowlful.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. GRAS or used as food; dosages above those in foods are unproven and should be avoided.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Case reports of pneumonia and respiratory distress secondary to the aspiration of bone material from chicken soup exist.(Avital 1992, Halpern 1980) Hypernatremia due to the sodium content has also been reported.(Chu 1986, Fujiwara 1985, Stavric 1993) There is at least 1 case report of anaphylaxis to chicken soup.(Saff 1992) An in vitro study suggests chicken soup may increase uric acid and other purines (ie, in gout).(Fukuuchi 2018) A study reported increased serum creatine following consumption of chicken soup made with bones (N=6).(Aggarwal 2015)


Research reveals limited information regarding the toxicity of chicken soup.



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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