PREVENTIVE MEDICINE

A mechanical Account of the Non-Naturals: being a brief Explication of the Changes made in humane Bodies, by Air, Diet, &c. Together with an Enquiry into the Nature and Use of Baths upon the same Principles ... .

London: Printed for Ralph Smith ... and Jeffery Wale ... 1707

8vo., pp. [32], 196, [4, advertisements]; a fine copy in contemporary panelled calf (headband chipped).

£2750

Approximately:
US $3678€3116

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First edition of Wainewright’s study of health and diet. From the time of the Greek texts of the Hippocratic Corpus to the early modern period it was believed that health depended on the careful management of six external factors (hence ‘Non-Natural’, not inherent to the human body): the air one breathes, sleep, diet, exercise, evacuations, and emotions. ‘Increased anatomical knowledge and clinical expertise during the eighteenth century meant that physicians had a larger range of treatments which could be brought to bear on disease, but a healthy regimen remained the most effective means of staving off disease .... The way in which eighteenth-century physicians [still] made use of the Hippocratic Corpus found its most interesting expression in A mechanical Account of the Non-Naturals’ (Madden, p. 158). Five more editions over the next thirty years testify to its contemporary importance.

The introductory matter treats of ‘animal secretion’ (blood, etc), followed by specific medical concerns such as the stomach and its disorders, asthma, consumption, dropsy, the diseases of sea-men, and the effects of mercury. Two chapters are devoted to diet, hot versus cold drinks; how a liberal diet is better than a sparse one; bread and its preparation; who should drink coffee and tea; the most seasonable times to eat; for whom vegetables are the most nourishing; and what sort of wine and ale is most wholesome. The themes of bathing, air, and exercise run throughout as beneficial in addition to diet.

Deborah Madden, A cheap, safe and natural Medicine: Religion, Medicine and Culture in John Wesley’s Primitive Physic (2007).