Handwashing? Not Until About 1900!

Many people don’t realize that washing your hands was not even a thing a couple hundred years ago! Before you haul off and say vaccines and Wheaties are why people live so much longer please understand Doctor’s were not washing their hands in 1850 between patients! Other people were not either. Germs were not understood yet and the theory was just being developed.  The first person to put washing of hands between patients was Ignaz Semmelweis in 1847. He wanted to reduce the deaths of mother’s giving birth, which was astronomical in the hospital he worked in. So he tried to have everyone wash their hands in chlorinated water between patients and BOOM, the survival rates of the mothers giving birth improved dramatically!

    So all the other doctors got together and gave him a trophy so large it could scarcely fit through his doorway to bring it home! 

      Actually that is not true. Nope not by a long shot. You see the majority of doctors did not agree with him. They were not happy with all of Ignaz’s reforms. They believed they already had it all figured out and that he was a fringe lunatic. They ran campaigns against him and drove him out of the hospitals. He lived his last days in an insane asylum where he died from sepsis. The medical community drove this brilliant man who could have saved countless lives literally insane. (Or they helped get him administered against his will, as the ultimate show of tolerance?). A few decades later people began to wash their hands regularly including the medical community.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Stop pretending just because the majority of medical professionals (or anyone) say something is true that it is. Well intentioned and educated majorities have been wrong countless times in the past and it will be so again. Be humble.

MORAL OF THE STORY #2: The Bible was thousands of years ahead of it’s time in sanitation laws. King David spoke of washing himself with Hyssop oil about 3,000 years ago in Psalm 51:7. Interestingly Hyssop oil is antibacterial and antimicrobial! How could the Hebrew people have known that if that was not God revealing to them something to aid in their preservation before the scientific understanding developed?! Wow. The Bible also had quarantine laws and rules thousands of years before the modern medical community!

 

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