Benjamin Franklin Liked To Take ‘Air Baths’

By Gregory Myers on Tuesday, January 7, 2014
“Mankind naturally and generally love to be flatter’d.” —Ben Franklin, “A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain”

In A Nutshell

Benjamin Franklin is well known for being an inventor, and his interests included just about anything you could imagine. One of those interests was medicine, and his theories caused him to believe that nudity was good for you. For this reason, he would take regular “air baths” for his health.

The Whole Bushel

Benjamin Franklin was one of those people who was good at everything and always seems to succeed. The man was highly respected by an incredible amount of people for his sheer genius, and he had theories on everything imaginable. Apart from doing things like inventing bifocals and messing around with electricity he also had a fascination with anatomy, and other medical sciences.

One of the main theories espoused during Franklin’s day was that cold weather was the leading cause of getting a cold. Now, in his time it was also more important that you avoid getting cold, because medicine wasn’t as advanced. Getting sick during the winter could easily become more than just an inconvenience. That said, Franklin disregarded the common wisdom of the time in favor of his own theory. You see, Franklin didn’t think the common cold was caused by cold air; he thought it happened because we were stuck in close quarters with a bunch of gross, germ-infested flesh tubes. To avoid getting sick, Franklin came up with something he called an “air bath.” He would open the windows of his house to increase air circulation and then sit in front of the window in the nude, presumably to get the full effects of the increased airflow.

It may sound fairly eccentric, but despite not having any real training in the practice of medicine, he was still pretty spot on with his understanding of the spread of disease. As these things often turn out, he spent so much time thinking about this because he had breathing problems. His theories regarding nudity are a little silly, but completely harmless. More important is his advanced understanding of the importance of fresh air, and proper ventilation when it comes to disease prevention. In more ways than anyone can count, Franklin was far ahead of his time.

Show Me The Proof

Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine: The Medical World of Benjamin Franklin
CBS: The Naked Truth About Politics