From medical astrology to medical astronomy: soli-lunar and planetary theories of disease in British medicine, c. 1700-1850

Author: Harrison M.
Abstract: After 1700, astrology lost the respect it once commanded in medical circles. But the belief that the heavens influenced bodily health persisted – even in learned medicine -until well into the nineteenth century. The continuing vitality of these ideas owed much to the new empirical and mechanical outlook of their proponents. Taking their cue from the work of Robert Boyle and Richard Mead a number of British practioners amassed statistical evidence which purported to prove he influence of the Moon upon fevers and other diseases. Such ideas flourished in the colonies and in the medical services of the armed forces, but their exponents were not marginal men. Some, like James Lind, were widely respected and commanded support for their views from such influential figures as Erasmus Darwin.
Keywords: belief, heavens, bodily health, Robert Boyle,Richard Mead, James Lind, moon, disease
Publication: British Journal of HIstorical Science
Issue: Vol 33 (116 pt 1)
Dated: March 2000
Pages: 25-48

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