2 doctors call chicken soup vital medication

The pair of doctors, who also suggest Web sites with chicken soup recipes, work at the Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer.

Dr. Abraham Ohry, associate professor and head of the hospital's neuro-rehabilitation department, and Dr. Jenni Tsafrir, head of the reference services at the hospital's medical library, write that a drug is "considered to be essential if it is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago, and it is assessed on the basis of four principles."

The four principles: A drug must be "evidence-based, efficient, flexible, and forward looking."

The authors suggest that chicken soup — the real thing, made by cooking a chicken with vegetables and other natural ingredients in water, not the stuff made from synthetic, powdered mixes — meets all these criteria.

They note that they know of no major randomized controlled trials to determine the efficacy of chicken soup in alleviating illness. But, they write, "we feel that sufficient observational and anecdotal evidence has accumulated over the centuries to make the requirement for such a trial superfluous."

Ohry, an expert in the history of medicine, and Tsafrir, who is adept at locating medical literature, bring quotations from the Talmud about Rabbi Abba, who consumed chicken soup for treatment of "black humors." They also quote other sources, who used it for treating patients with hemorrhoids, constipation and leprosy.

While chicken soup as a remedy has been much maligned as a myth, they referred to an article in the journal Chest as proving the effectiveness of chicken soup in increasing "nasal mucous velocity."

Chicken soup was also suggested as a possibly effective treatment for asthma.

"We feel certain that, despite the absence of significantly statistical evidence from scientific studies, chicken soup is here to stay as part…of traditional effective remedies," they conclude.