Friday, April 25, 2008

Fashionable Medicine

South Beach Diet. 30-minute workouts. Eat more vegetables. Drink 8 glasses of water a day. There’s always some new wisdom on the best way to stay healthy.

It’s nothing new.

In the nineteenth century, a number of advances in medicine were made, including vaccinations, x-rays, and even washing hands before surgery! But among the general population, medicinal cures changed as quickly as the fashions.

According to La Belle Assemblee, in February 1807, somewhat facetiously: “It would be a mark of extreme vulgarity to make use of a medicine which is out of fashion; and those who have had the misfortune to commit such an error, may, indeed, congratulate themselves on their cure, but they must not boast of it.”

Some of the fads said to cure all ills included:

Hot baths
Cold baths
Indian Chestnuts
And 48 glasses of water a day!

Did we mention that for a good part of the century, most people didn’t have indoor plumbing? I don’t want to know where those 48 glasses of water came from.

Or where they went.

But God bless the Denver Airport for putting in WiFi! Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this (she said as she waited 8 hours after missing a flight home). Where’s that carriage and four when you need them!

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