RUSH, Benjamin (1746-1813), Signer (Pennsylvania). Autograph letter signed ("Benjn. Rush"), to George Miller, Philadelphia, 2 March 1791. 3 pages, folio, autograph address panel (chipped at seal separation).
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY REMEDIES: "...SHE SHOULD LOOSE SIX OR EIGHT OUNCES OF BLOOD..."
Rush prescribes a classic, 18th century course of medical treatment for a daughter of a friend: purging, diet and exercise. "From the Short Account of your daughter's case given to me in your note, I am led to suspect that she is disposed to a consumption, but I am far from despairing of her recovery, provided she will strictly follow the directions herewith sent to her. If her pulse be full or hard, she should loose six or eight ounces of blood, and this operation should be repeated every three or four weeks while her pulse continues as above mentioned, or while she feels much pain in her breast or sides. Her diet during this state of her pulse should consist chiefly of milk & vegetables. If her pulse be weak and low, bleeding should be omitted, and her diet consist of moderate portion of animal food mixed with vegetables." He stresses that she should eat six small meals a day instead of the large ones and that "costiveness [i.e., constipation] should be avoided."
"These remedies are palliatives only, but absolutely necessary in her case, my chief dependence for her cure is upon Riding on horseback. This remedy should be used every day in dry weather. In the spring, she should undertake a journey of over 100, or 200 miles - taking care in all her excursions to avoid riding in wet weather or after night, or 'till she is fatigued. Fatigue wil defeat the best concerted plans of exercise. She should therefore above all things avoid it." If riding is not convenient, "she will find swinging an hour or two every day an excellent substitute for it."