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From The Illinois Medical Journal 1921
GRANDMOTHER WAS RIGHT
You Must Eat a Peck of Dirt According to the LAY HEALTH COMMISSIONER of DETROIT
Little Harold came in from play, a dark ring surrounding his mouth, his face, hands and clothing the color of the soil. Mother gasped and proceeded to lay Harold out for playing in the dirt and risking the dangers of contamination. Grandmother, sitting placidly in her corner, interposed, “Don't worry," she said. “we all have got to eat a peck of dirt before we die."
We may have thought grandmother’s remark was a back country jocularity, a way of getting amiably round the eternal affinity of boy and dirt, but now comes Health Commissioner Henry F. Vaughan to lend a degree of scientific authority to grandmother's aphorism.
“If you eat too much dirt you will die; if you eat a medium amount of dirt you will live long; if you don't eat enough dirt you will die," sagely announces the commissioner. Though he neglects to specify for an eager humanity the quantity of dirt which may be said to be a “medium amount" we are not troubled. Grandmother said a peck was the measure.
Mr. Vaughan finds a basis for his pronouncement in the health report of army camps which showed, he says, that city men had lower death rates than those from the country. City men eat more dirt, are constantly absorbing it, and germs, too, and the dirt sets up a ferment in the body that dissolves the germs, he reasons.
So, there we have a plain and simple rule of health. Eat dirt in moderate quantities. Don’t stop at a quart or reach out for a half bushel. Eat a peck, but don’t finishing eating it until you are ready to pass to another world. That's grandmother's formula and Mr. Vaughan backs it up, so it must be right.
Note: Publicity at any cost but this may prove the utter folly of all propaganda.
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MUD AS MEDICINE, article in the British Medical Journal 1899
"Eating dirt" is an unpleasant method of refection which occasionally has to be adopted for prophylactic reasons by persons of too impulsive temper; but, so far as we are aware, mud has not hitherto been recommended as an article of diet with a therapeutic purpose. "Mud baths" we are more or less familiar with, but mud emulsions or electuaries strike us as a novelty. This latest addition to the Pharmacopoeia is not a product of the inventive genius of German chemistry, but is prepared in the laboratory of Nature. Its virtues were proclaimed to the people of Denver not long ago by a "professor,"' who, after announcing his nostrum as "the greatest discovery ever made by mortal," proceeded as follows: "In my stupendous investigations of animal life I have discovered that dogs, horses, pigs, etc., were not troubled with dyspepsia, rheumatism, consumption, appendicitis, hysteria, and other ailments. I observed that all animals were very much given to eating dirt; this suggested the thought, Why not do likewise? And under the inspiration of the idea I commenced to eat dirt, and have been doing so ever since, with the result that my physical ailments have departed, and I stand before you to-night the most healthy man in America. I guarantee, if any individual will take three doses of dirt a day, it will cure every disease that is known to the medical profession. There is only one brand of dirt, however, that I can safely recommend, and it comes from the banks of the dear old Missouri river. Anticipating a large demand for it, I took the precaution of having a large consignment shipped to Denver. I have had this great Nature's remedy put up in neat boxes which will be sold at popular prices. Special rates will be made to large families and public institutions on keg and barrel lots. I will guarantee that it is the quintessence of the banks of the Missouri river." Need it be added that this appeal to the "eternal gullible" in man was successful? Truly does Autolycus say, "What a fool Honesty is! and Trust, his sworn brother, a very simple gentleman!" But why should such special virtues be claimed for Missouri mud? If the active principle is dirt, we think it likely that a "brand" of incomparable efficacy could be extracted from the Thames.