When first hearing about Elephants’ Milk sold as a medicine around 1815, several question marks at once flashed up in my mind. I simply had to follow it up. It must have been the same with Dr. Richard Reece (1775-1831), tireless author on domestic medicine, and member of the Royal College of surgeons. Being a rather entrepreneurial physician and no stranger to the criticism of quackery, he got to the bottom of things. Read more about an alleged miracle cure from around 1815 here.Continue reading
In this post:
- Early Weight Watchers
- The secret knowlegde of the Weighing Book
- Dieting with Lord Byron
A softly rounded, plumb, curvaceous and voluptuous body was considered healthy and beautiful for most of the 18th century. Nevertheless, with the rise of the ideals of ancient Greek in fashion and design, the athletic body of an Olympian shifted into focus. Fashionable skin-tight pantaloons revealed every muscle of the male leg, the perfectly-cut coat looked best on broad shoulders. To create a specific volume, men wore padded under-structures round the shoulders and calves, and a corset helped to accentuate a man’s waist.
The well-proportioned male body became an object of fashion and health. But how to measure the body weight? Bathroom scales were not yet around, not even for the rich. People had to pay to be weighed at the doctors. Thus, it came in handy for High Society men of London that a wine shop started offering the service to its customers for free in 1765. Actually, weighing became extremely fashionable. Continue reading
‘Dr Brighton’ was the affectionate nickname given to Dean Mahomet, an Indian immigrant who opened the first commercial “shampooing” vapour masseur bath in Brighton.
“Shampooning”, a type of Turkish bath, gave full relief to ailments such as rheumatic and paralytic, gout, stiff joints, old sprains, lame legs, aches and pains in the joints”. Dean Mahomet’s business proved to be so successful that hospitals referred patients to him and he was appointed as shampooing surgeon to both King George IV and William IV. Continue reading
In the Romantic Age modern medical treatment was still in the fledgling stages. The modern era of medicine began with Edward Jenner’s discovery of the smallpox vaccine at the end of the 18th century. It would take nearly another 100 years until Robert Koch discovered the transmission of diseases by bacteria. Penicillin and Aspirin became reliable drugs only in the early 20th century.
Medical treatment was based on herbalism or the ancient Greek theory of “humourism” of the body. Humourism proposed that a body was in good health when its four humours were in balance. These humours were blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. An imbalance of the humours would cause ill health.
If you fell ill in the Romantic Age, what medical treatment could you expect? Continue reading