Benjamin Franklin Liked To Take ‘Air Baths’

“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

  • Hadeskabir

    Oh Benjamin you rascal, you did anything just to go around naked!

    • SensiblePerson

      I really wouldn’t want to imagine Benjamin Franklin sitting by the window like that…

      • Hadeskabir

        It would certainly haunt the dreams of the viewer.

        • Not-A-Killer

          *walks past Benjamin’s house, sees open window, looks closer*
          Ben: “Sup.”
          You: “OH GOD WHAT THE FAH.”

  • Mom424

    Turns out that the being cold thing contributes to illness; we harbour all sort of rhino viruses and other pathogens, and being cold and damp runs you down and allows the virus to take hold. “Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre in Wales has proven that a drop in body temperature can cause a dormant cold virus to develop. If a person becomes chilled, for example by wearing damp clothes in cold weather, the blood vessels in the nose become constricted. When this occurs, the warm blood is closed off, no longer supplying the infection-fighting white cells.

    • Ray

      It only aids the spread of viruses. Being cold can’t make you get a cold.

      • Mom424

        The point is that we harbour dormant viruses at all times…it doesn’t require reinfection, it requires a dampening of the immune system for them to multiply unchecked and cause illness.

        • Ray

          I must have misunderstood part of your comment. It still requires exposure to the virus at some point. You can’t just get sick from being cold or wet.

          • Mom424

            I agree entirely; it’s definitely a combo effect. Influenza particularly benefits from winter close quarters.

          • Ray

            That’s pretty much what your original comment was but I misread it. Sorry about that. I don’t think we harbour viruses at all times. Maybe if you mean every virus that exists and not just the common cold. I think that with decent hygiene the risk of going outside during winter is pretty low. I think with the rhinovirus it can only be dormant on your skin from contact with surfaces. Maybe I’m wrong, herpes doesn’t work like that. I’m pretty sure most colds/flus will only survive 1-2 days max unless you’re already sick. Except h1n1 I think that can survive a week on surfaces. Anyway, my comment is becoming a rant so I’m done lol.

          • inconspicuous detective

            she covered that. she said that in order for the virus to do anything, our immune system must be weakened, which cold does. knowing exposure to the virus beforehand is a must, it goes without saying you’d have already been exposed as opposed to being born full of virus waiting to take hold. i think it’s possible that you misunderstood her. very much so indeed.

          • Ray

            Originally I thought she meant you could get sick just from being cold. I was wrong about that. Yeah, it was my fault.

    • Michael Affleck

      I get my worst colds in spring and the beginning of summer. Always start summer with nose dripping and sinuses blocked, never fails. So much for cold causing colds.

    • lonelydisco

      I hope that I can comment here.

      I seem to be having an issue similar to what Moon Musician’s was a little while ago. While on Listverse, I can’t seem to get my comments to stick. They just float around for a few minutes, and, poof!, they’re gone. I made a comment elsewhere, and it was displayed both there and on my profile. My profile seems to be counting merely the number of my comments, not what they are. What’s going on?

    • lonelydisco

      I’m going insane here!

  • The Ou7law

    I do the same thing, but mine is to just show my neighbors what im working with

  • Michael Affleck

    Ben Franklin nude? Now that’s a mental Polaroid I really didn’t need.

    • Scott

      It must have been at least a half-decent sight. I mean, he banged half the young broads in the French royal court. He must have had something going for him.

      • Michael Affleck

        Because he was American and gave them Hershey bars and stockings from the PX?

        • Scott

          Don’t forget the McDonald’s gift cards

  • Saitaina Moricia-Malfoy

    While being nude does nothing for a cold, an air bath has a benefit Franklin did not foresee (beyond making sure your neighbors don’t drop in without warning), nudity is beneficial to zid in sweat evaporation as layers of cloth are no longer blocking areas such as the groin, buttocks are any fat folds, which, when covered, promotes bacterial and fungal growth due to poor evaporation. It’s recommended to “air dry” a bit after bathsshowers and if you are obese so that all areas can fully dry out.

    Then abuse the baby powder liberally to keep dark and sweaty areas dry.