Friday, 26 August 2011

Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold [Audiobook]

An entire arm of science—even a British research center called the Common Cold Unit (CCU)—dedicated to studying the common cold? Why not? Certainly an ailment that supports a multibillion-dollar industry of mostly quackery ought to inspire a certain amount of scientific interest. Indeed the common cold is far from being the stuffy subject one might expect. In the hands of gifted science writer Ackerman, the cold is addressed with dry wit while she covers every detail from soup (chicken, of course) to nuts (folk remedies). Only a science writer can find being intentionally inoculated with a cold virus and sequestered for a weekend entertaining. Among the lesser-known facts she reveals: colds are caused by more than 200 different viruses, one of which can even make you fat! What’s more, building up one’s immune system may exacerbate a cold’s symptoms; and as for those trendy antibacterial soaps and lotions, they are worthless against cold viruses. Amid all this “nasal gazing,” there is one folk remedy that may be worth considering. In Domestic Medicine (1772), William Buchan instructs, “Go to bed, hang your hat on the foot of the bed, and continue to drink until you see two hats.”

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