Dear Chicken Lady, Well, I’ve been hearing about how chicken soup is good for souls, stuffy noses, aches and pains, and with winter coming I’m going to need something that can help. If you ask me, it’s the chickens’ fault what with all the lugging feed sacks and wheelbarrows of manure, bales of straw and buckets of feed; it’s about enough to make me wonder why on earth I have all these chickens. So if chicken soup will help I need to know because if not, I might be dropping my chickens off at your house. Sincerely, All My Aches Are Real Pains
Dear Real Pain, Chickens are the solution. Getting outside is way better than sitting in the house and once you are surrounded by your admiring birds, you’ll forget all those aches, not worry about the blowing snows or runny noses.
Of course, it sounds like you want more help than adoration of your livestock provides, so you should try some viscosupplementation to enhance your range of motion and quality of life. The best way to do this without a trip to the Doc is a big pot of homemade chicken broth combined with a medley of vegetables. We have all seen the late night ads on TV offering shark cartilage as a cure all for joint pains but you can go one better with your own homegrown chicken soup for the ailing souls.
To render your soup, you need the carcass of the bird, bones, cartilage and all, as the collagen (gelatin) and minerals that make chicken soup so restorative of your good humor come from these parts of the bird. Amino acids for healthy connective tissue, wound healing, better digestions and a strengthened immune system also come from this often discarded part of the chicken. Use the leftovers from your roasted chicken, add a splash of vinegar for acid to encourage those bones to give up all their good nutritive qualities, strain the broth and add carrots, celery and onions or any other veggies you like for a feel-good meal. Add your favorite herbs; bay leaf, dill, oregano, basil, etc. plus some good German spaetzle
Of course, the drug companies have researched the benefits of a good chicken broth, and have come up with a high tech method (caution; involves needles) that you may prefer to use. Hyaluronan is a substance originally discovered in cows’ eyes but it also is found in the connective tissue, eyes, umbilical cord and joint fluid of humans and mammals. Starting in the 1970’s, vets used it for eye surgery and inflamed knees of racehorses and by the 1980’s it began to be used for people having cataract surgery. Extra cows’ eyes are not found in copious numbers so scientists turned to the rooster comb. As rooster combs are not in great demand for any other use they are an economical way to produce Hyaluronan. In Sweden, Pfizer scientists bred roosters specifically for large combs until they got to the point where they couldn’t hold their heads up. According to a company spokesman, a happy rooster produces a higher quality product so the breeding for increased comb size was stopped. Pfizer, as well as another company Genzyme, are producing this chicken collagen product for treatment of joint pain from arthritis, surgery, back and neck pain as well as pain following injuries. Like most drugs, there are still debates as to how effective this treatment is but its uses are expanding to include beautifying the human face by plumping up your facial wrinkles.
Still think you’d rather make your own soup? One of the best sources of collagen comes from the chicken sole. Stop in Chinatown and pick up a bag of chicken feet which many people feel make the best broth ever as they are especially high in cartilage. For a while, most of the American chicken feet production went to China where they are a delicacy, but due to trade disagreements, the Chinese applied a tariff to American chicken feet and turned to Brazil for their supply. In 2009 chicken parts sold to China exceeded $647 million but dropped to $135 million in 2010. That’s a lot of chicken feet remaining here for you to make soup from. Collagen from feet and legs of our chicken friends is being tested for use as an ACE inhibitor to lower blood pressure so stock up on them now before demand rises again.
Personally, I have seen where chicken put their feet and it’s not an appetizing thought. I’ll stick to broth made from the rest of the bird. Sincerely, Chicken Lady