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ScientIST: Dr. Mom Knows Best about Chicken Soup

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As the saying goes, “Mom knows best”. This is especially true when we’re under the weather, and though there are but few PTA members with legit science and medical degrees, it seems like most Moms could whip up an acute care clinic from the trunk of their Volvo if pressed. We turn to them for tummy aches and acne, scrapes and sunburns, chickenpox and colds (and nearly everything in between), and though their specialized mixture of Eastern and Western medicine comes with Care Bear band aids and kisses, it’s quite possible that hand me down remedies work because they’ve got some serious science behind them. Thus, in homage to Moms everywhere, we bring you this special ScientIST segment – Dr. Mom Knows Best – to reveal the truth behind the folklore.

Nothing says “cold weather remedy” like chicken soup, whose broth-y goodness has been leading the charge on comfort foods for generations. But does it really have a role in banishing upper respiratory infections, as posited by Jewish physician and philosopher Moses Maimonides in the 12th century (and Jewish grandmothers ever since)? Scientists at Nebraska’s Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Section thought this was worthy of scientific inquiry, so they devised a series of experiments to determine if chicken soup could halt a part of the inflammation response, an essential component to the symptoms associated with the common cold infection.