I grab another tissue from my slowly diminishing pile, and wipe my chapped nose. It was one of those weeks. Sunday was beautiful, low 70’s, with a bright blue cloudless sky. Monday got even hotter, hitting “unseasonal” warmth. And then, out of know where the temperature plummeted. Tuesday it was already in the 50’s, and by Wednesday it reached the high 40’s! Not knowing what else to do, my body decided it was time to take a break. On Thursday, I woke up with the sniffles and fell asleep with a head cold. Boy, was I looking forward to Shabbos. Not just for the rest, but more for my mother’s much-needed, cure-all chicken soup.
My mother lives just around the corner, and she saved the day by sending me over some of her world-famous chicken soup. But the entire Shabbos I was still in bed, and only emerged from my room feeling better late Monday. Isn’t chicken soup supposed to be penicillin? Wasn’t I supposed to get better right away? Maybe I didn’t have enough? Or maybe chicken soup doesn’t really heal all illnesses.
Dr. Stephen Rennard, a pulmonary expert from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, wrote in Chest, the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, that he found evidence for chicken soup’s healing properties. What does chicken soup do? It stops inflammation. When a virus is detected the body starts to become inflamed, this tells white blood cells to congregate to the area where the virus is. These white blood cells are ineffective against a viral infection (which the common cold usually is) and only increase the production of mucous that can cause coughing and sneezing. If so, Dr. Rennard writes that chicken soup can prevent inflammation and thus stop the symptoms of the common cold!
Another study in Miami done by Mount Sinai, again proves the effectiveness in chicken soup. 15 volunteers were tested on the effect that cold water, hot water, and chicken soup had air flow and mucous. Hot water did improve the flow of air and mucous, but chicken soup took the cake. So, what is in chicken soup that cures the common cold? Scientists point to the fact that chicken is full of a compound called carnosine. Carnosine is thought to be the reason inflammation is prevented. According to this reason, only when carnosine is still in the body (i.e. when the soup is in your body) do these healing properties work.
Well if chicken soup’s healing properties only stay as long as the chicken soup is in your body, I might know why the chicken soup didn’t help me! Being sick, I had a very little appetite and only ate the soup Friday night. I sipped another bowl Motzei Shabbos, but I must not have gotten enough! I’m not ready to give up on the “Jewish penicillin” and now I can’t wait to try its healing properties again. I mean I can wait, I don’t need to try them now. On second thought I don’t need to try them at all, I’ll take someone else’s word for it.