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Communications to the Editor |

Chicken Soup or Jewish Medicine FREE TO VIEW

Jay B. Lavine, MD
Author and Funding Information

Tuscon, AZ

Correspondence to: Jay B. Lavine, MD, PO Box 43126, Tucson, AZ 85733-3126; e-mail: JLavineMD@aol.com



Chest. 2001;119(4):1295. doi:10.1378/chest.119.4.1295
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To the Editor:

The study by Rennard et al (October 2000)1 is the latest attempt at humor on the subject of chicken soup, but it leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth with regard to the millennia-old discipline of Jewish Medicine. Ancient Jewish literature included descriptions of folk remedies, even the “Dreckapotheke,” medicines that were derived from offensive human and animal parts and excretions (I place the swirling of dead chicken remains in vegetable broth in this category). However, in keeping with respect for educated scientific and medical opinion, Jewish sages throughout the ages have warned that one should not rely on the folk remedies of the Talmud, and some have even stated that it is forbidden to do so.

Rennard et al1 mention that chicken soup has been referred to as Jewish penicillin, and I have no doubt that it is just as effective as any antibiotic in the treatment of viral illnesses. But instead of trying to inhibit the function of WBCs to control inflammation, which could be harmful, we should be trying to bolster the immune system to eradicate the infection and prevent complications.

Aside from his medieval remedies such as chicken soup, what did Maimonides feel was the main focus of medicine? The story2 is told that the Sultan of Egypt asked Maimonides, who was his physician, “How do I know you’re such a great physician? After all, in all the time you’ve been taking care of me, I’ve never been sick.” Maimonides replied that in the Bible (Exodus 15:26), God promised the children of Israel that if they followed all of His commandments, He would protect them from all of the diseases He had placed on the Egyptians, concluding, “I am the Lord your physician.” Because, in preventing illness, we are emulating God, prevention is the highest form of healing, and preventing illness is the main role of a physician. Maimonides explained that when a patient follows his physician’s advice on lifestyle (diet and exercise) and the patient does not get sick, that is the greatest proof of a physician’s abilities. And that is what Jewish Medicine is really all about.

References

Rennard, BO, Ertl, RF, Gossman, GL, et al (2000) Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxisin vitro.Chest118,1150-1157. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Beifuss YYH, ed. Yalkut lekach tov al parashiyot hashavua (in Hebrew). Rechisim, Israel: Tashbar Harav 5748, 1987–88; 109.
 

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References

Rennard, BO, Ertl, RF, Gossman, GL, et al (2000) Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxisin vitro.Chest118,1150-1157. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Beifuss YYH, ed. Yalkut lekach tov al parashiyot hashavua (in Hebrew). Rechisim, Israel: Tashbar Harav 5748, 1987–88; 109.
 
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