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Jan 18, 2011

Healing Soups


I found this article from Herb Companion Newsletter

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 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 www.ars-grin.gov/duke.

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.

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.
The Immunity-Boosting Winter Soup recipe, adapted from the Creative Herbal Home by Susan Belsinger and Tina Marie Wilcox (Herbspirit, 2007), includes nearly all of these ingredients—and a few more—to jumpstart your immune system.

Protect Your Heart, Prevent Cancer

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