Miso Soup: An Ancient Remedy for the Common Cold by NJ Acupuncturist Robert Vena

The people of Asia have long been aware of the health benefits of soybeans and scallions.

Documentation of the use of these ingredients as medicine dates as far back as the 3rd or 4th century, when the famous Chinese doctor Ge Hong (283–343 CE) included them in his medical handbook, ‘Emergency Formulas to Keep Up One’s Sleeve’.

Dr. Hong’s Chinese herbal formula, known as ‘Cong Chi Tang’, or ‘Scallion and Prepared Soybean Decoction’, is still used today as a way to help stop the common cold in its tracks. And today, we have easy access to this herbal formula in the form of a traditional Japanese soup.

Most westerners are now familiar with the dish known as miso soup. This tasty soup’s main ingredients, miso (fermented soybean paste) and scallions (green onions, spring onions, or shallots), make it an excellent choice as a home remedy for those looking to ward off the common cold. The soup is most effective in this capacity when taken at the very onset of a cold… just as indications such as a mild fever, slight chills, headache, and stuffy nose first appear.

It is important that the soup be taken immediately, within just 4 – 6 hours of the appearance of the first signs of a cold coming on. The soup can help to knock out the cold during this early stage, but any later, once the cold has further developed, is too late, and other cold remedies will be required.

The soup should be taken hot, in an effort to induce a sweat that can help to expel the cold pathogen that has invaded the body.

After drinking down the soup, it is recommended to immediately get into bed and bundle up under blankets until a sweat appears. Once a good sweat has been produced, get out of bed, towel the sweat off the body, change into dry clothes, and get back into bed to rest.

Fresh miso soup can be purchased at most Japanese restaurants or sushi houses, but it is also easy to make at home. The ingredient ‘miso’ can be found in most health food stores and in grocery stores that stock foods from around the world. Instant miso soup is also available in single-serving packages, but many of these products contain high levels of sodium and monosodium glutamate (MSG), so be careful with your selection.

There are many delicious recipes for miso soup that can be found online or in cookbooks, but here is a simple one, using only the basic ingredients:

Miso Soup

Bring 2 – 3 cups of water to a boil

Add 2 tablespoons of miso paste and allow it to dissolve

Cook for 5 – 10 minutes over a low flame

While the soup is simmering, chop 3 – 5 stalks of scallion and sprinkle them into the soup just prior to removing it from the heat.

Remove from heat and serve hot.

Enjoy and Be Well.

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