“Dr.” John Wesley?

by Sandi Austin

While researching Charles and John Wesley, brothers who co-founded the Methodist church, I was initially going to write an article about Charles. However, I stumbled across some fascinating facts about John, and my attention was diverted.

For instance, did you know that John Wesley wrote one of the most widely-read books in 18th century England? Entitled Primitive Physick, the medical book contained remedies or cures for practically every ailment imaginable.

Wesley truly believed that God cared as much for people’s earthly well-being as He did for their heavenly lives. So, he authored a book that was surprisingly in-depth, and included treatments from the seemingly absurd to those that surprisingly mirror our practices in these modern times.

Some of Wesley’s oddest remedies “needing research for truth” include:
– To cure baldness, rub the bald area every morning and night with onions until the area is red, then rub it afterwards with honey. Or “electrify it daily.” I’m afraid to know what he meant by that!
– To cure hiccups: among several suggestions, Wesley suggested taking anything that makes you sneeze. So, the next time you get the hiccups, head for the pepper shaker. It just could work!
– To cure bloodshot eyes, apply linen rags dipped in cold water for two or three hours. Nowadays, we have eye drops that get the red out right away … no waiting!
– To prevent the ill-effects of a cold: when a person gets home with hands or feet chilled, let him put them into a pan of water as cold as you can get it, and hold them there until they begin to glow. What?!? It goes on to say, “This they will do in a minute or two.”
– To prevent rickets and weakness, dip your child in cold water every morning until the child is at least nine months old.
John Wesley’s book goes on with recommendations for the bite of a mad dog, measles, back pain, rheumatism, runny nose and old age … take tar-water morning and evening or be electrified daily, or chew cinnamon daily. I choose cinnamon.

If Wesley’s medical textbook entries above don’t seem realistic to you, here are a few that we can actually wrap our heads around, because they are actually put to practice today…
– Drink lots of water as it’s the most wholesome of all drinks.
– Exercise (preferably by walking) and do it outdoors in fresh air, if possible.
– Avoid coffee and tea because they are harmful to people with weak nerves. Does coffee make YOU jittery?
– Those who read or write a lot should do so while standing. How many times have we been told that we should get up from our computers every now and then to move around? Wesley knew this to be important back then.
– For the cough, make a hole through a lemon and fill it with honey, then roast it and catch the juice. Take a teaspoonful of this frequently. This lemon-honey mixture still works to this day. Wesley was right on!

And, finally, here is a Wesley recommendation that I’ll gladly try: To cure stomach pain, hold a puppy against the stomach.

While it hasn’t been proven, we all know that while holding a puppy, we get the “warm fuzzies.” Now, who could disagree with that?