What’s in a Bowl? Traditional Soups and Healing Broths

Many soup recipes were found to have fever-reducing properties. (Image:  pixabay /  CC0 1.0)
Many soup recipes were found to have fever-reducing properties. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

What’s warmer, more comforting and strengthening than a generous bowl of chicken/beef or vegetable broth? Not much comes close to it really! What’s more, there are so many varieties of good and nutritious soup broths out there. An ancient Chinese proverb states that a good doctor uses food first, then resorts to medicine.

In 2019, a survey led by Professor Baum from the Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, asked kids from various ethnic backgrounds from Eden Primary School in London to bring recipes of homemade traditional soups to class for analysis by the team of experts.

It was discovered that most of the soup recipes had attested fever-reducing properties.  All of the soup recipes came from countries including Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. In analyzing the recipe’s ingredients, the team also discovered a property that’s extracted from a Chinese herb that’s been around for ages called Qinghao. It is a well-known plant and is believed to be a powerful fever-fighting herb.

Of 56 broths tested, 5 were able to stop 50 percent of the in-vitro growth of P. falciparum. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Fever-fighting herbs

The Qinghao herb was used for more than 2,000 years in ancient China to treat malaria-related fevers. The famous herbalist Li Shizhen, whose name is practically a household name throughout China, had apparently personally recommended the herb for treating fevers. The physician was the author of the revered book called A Great Compendium of Herbs.

The Cultural Revolution, which lasted from 1966 to 1976, was a period marked by chaos and upheaval. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imposed tremendous cruelty and enormous suffering upon its people. Sadly, much of the original Chinese medical treatments and herbal formulas along with texts were destroyed. In 1970, Qinghao was rediscovered.

Professor Baum’s quest was to gather major soup recipes from around the world that might include ingredients not documented by scientists. The team was amazed at the impact some of the soup ingredients had with regard to major illnesses. Of 56 broths tested, 5 were able to stop 50 percent of the in-vitro growth of P. falciparum, the world’s deadliest malarial parasite, and 2 were found to have properties comparable to a leading antimalaria drug. Four other broths were found to have a 50 percent transmission-blocking activity, which stops the male parasite’s sexual stage development.

Some of the antimalarial drugs shown to be effective against viruses include a property called Chloroquine. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The team documented their conclusion saying: “At a time when there is a resurgent voice against evidence-based medicine, such exercises have great importance for educating the next generation about how new drugs are discovered, how they might work, and how untapped resources still exist in the fight against global diseases of significance.”

Natural remedies and traditional medicine

Interestingly, it has been recently discovered that there are medicines derived from plant and herb sources that have shown potential in treating viral infections, including Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV.)

It’s widely believed that some of the antimalarial drugs shown to be effective against viruses include a property called Chloroquine. The formula is extracted from the bark of the Cinchona tree. Artemisinin is extracted from Qinghao (Artemisia annua) and has proved to be a trusted property that has effectively been used to reduce a high temperature and malaria. The neem tree (Azadirachta indica) also has a property that’s proven to be extremely effective in treating high fevers.

Traditional cultures all recommend broths to boost immunity, and steaming hot clear soups to help treat fevers. Essentially, soups are warm, liquid, and nutritious, so it naturally helps to flush toxins and waste out of the body.

With regard to the Qinghao herb, it is now grown commercially in many African countries where malaria is a leading cause of death. Commonly known as Sweet Wormwood, Artemisinin and the derivatives of this compound are used as an effective antimalarial medicine.

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