Benjamin Franklin: The Great Physician That Was Not Celebrated Because He Was Not Trained

Benjamin Franklin, as stated by a previous Inquisitr article, was born in 1706 in Boston, and was the youngest of seventeen children. He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States; and is one of the greatest Americans that ever lived.

Benjamin Franklin is known, according to the stories told about his indefatigable achievements as a leading revolutionary, author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat (As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity), but the story has not fully been told for his interest and deep knowledge in medicine and health-related issues.

Benjamin Franklin did not have any formal training in medicine, but made great contributions in the medical field. He had great interest in medicine, and was reported to have written extensively on health related subjects. He wrote, for example, on the treatment of the Common Cold, Promotion of Exercise, Moderate Diet, Electrical Treatment for Paralysis and the like. Franklin’s tremendous interest in medicine eventually led to the establishment of links with prominent physicians of his time which enabled him to adequately publish most of his health-related articles.

Apart from his many legendary roles as a civic activist, he was also a medical activist supporting and campaigning for smallpox vaccination; giving advice about remedies for bladder stone and gravel; and played a leading role in founding the Pennsylvania Hospital. He played a significant role in ensuring his family and close associates stayed healthy by constantly giving medical advice, but was always humble to admit that he is not a trained medical doctor.

In 1747, he wrote a letter to his parents regarding the medical field.

“I apprehend I am too busy in prescribing, and meddling in the Dr’s sphere, when any of you complain of ails in your letters: but as I always employ a physician myself when any disorder arises in my family and submit implicitly to his orders in everything, so I hope you consider my advice, when I give any, only as a mark of my good will, and put no more of it in practice that happens to agree with what your Dr. directs.”

This is the level of his respect for medicine and trained medical experts that with all his knowledge in that sector, he did not try to pretend he is an expert. He wished people would also respect expert advice from medical doctors. Some of the most famous of Franklin’s health advices that were published in leading medical journals are:

  • Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
  • Be not sick too late, nor well too soon.
  • Time is an herb that cures all diseases.
  • Eat to live and not live to eat.

Benjamin Franklin, in his lifetime, contributed immensely to the field of medicine through the stroke of his pen and support for health-related projects, and most of his inventions also provided practical solutions to everyday problem, e.g. his design of the flexible catheter and his invention of the bifocals.

Franklin’s medical legacy continues to be present, and that we constantly reminded to lead healthy lifestyles to stay healthy in improving society.

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