Healing Soups from the Green Farmacy

Fortify yourself against colds and flu with these healing soup recipes.

| December/January 2008

  • Fortify yourself against colds and flu with a palette of healing plants.
    Susan Belsinger

I like soup—winter, spring, summer or fall. And the more I research plant compounds and their effects on human health, the more I am convinced that healing soups make an ideal “food pharmacy.” With soup, you can combine ingredients that have tremendous potential to ward off, and possibly reverse, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and dozens of other conditions. Every plant—vegetable, fruit, grain or herb—contains a long list of chemical compounds (known as phytochemicals) with properties ranging from anti-aging to immunostimulant to vasodilator. If you’re interested in exploring the chemical compounds of food and their properties yourself, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture database that I am compiling at Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases.

Here are two soups that I cooked up at my Green Farmacy (see below), along with one that my friend Susan Belsinger contributed. Try them yourself—I think you’ll find them much tastier than their pharmaceutical counterparts.

3 Healing Soups

• Hearty Four-Bean Soup
• Immunity-Boosting Winter Soup
• Curried Celery Soup 

Soothe Aching Joints

Every ingredient in the Curried Celery Soup works to tame the enzyme known as COX-2, which is associated with the inflammation and pain of arthritis. One of them alone (capsaicin) is nearly as potent as the COX-2 Inhibitor in the controversial arthritis drug Vioxx. And garlic, at last count, contained at least nine different COX-2 Inhibitors. 

Even if you aren’t bothered by arthritis, there’s good reason to add this soup to your menu: Recent research reported in Science News suggests that inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme could delay or prevent some cancers.

Fight Colds and Flu

To me, garlic is the tastiest and best all-around stimulant for the immune system. Of the other immunostimulant herbs in my database, I’d also include shiitake mushrooms, chickpeas, calendula, ginger and turmeric if I were going to make an immunity-boosting soup. I’d also use some ground black pepper (to enhance the uptake of the curcumin) and some chiles or cayenne.

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