Last week an interesting article was published in the Economist magazine which cited several scientific claims about the advantages of human exposure to dirt!1
The article starts by outlining a history of the changing concept of cleanliness and its association with health and disease. France’s King Henri IV, is reported to have been advised by his physician not to meet with a Duke who had reportedly taken a bath. The article also mentions that Queen Elizabeth I of England bathed only once a month while her successor only washed his fingers.
It then goes on to recount the influence of American soapmakers, such as Procter & Gamble, in the 1930s who wanted to market their products to housewives by sponsoring drama series later known as soap operas.
Several interesting books are cited:
“Clean - a history of personal hygiene and purity”. The author Virginia Smith is an honorary fellow of the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. http://cleanpure.info/
“Why Dirt Is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends” by Mary Ruebush who is an American immunologist argues that children need to be exposed to germs in order to strengthen their immune system. http://www.amazon.com/Why-Dirt-Good-Germs-Friends/dp/1427798044
An article by Christopher Lowry at Bristol University who discovered that Mycobacterium vaccae, present in mud, stimulated the production of serotonin in the brain, effectively acting like an antidepressant and making people happier.2
CITE THIS ARTICLE:
Tamer M. Fouad, M.D.. In praise of dirt - the history of cleanliness. Doctors Lounge Website. Available at: http://www.doctorslounge.com/index.php/blogs/page/306. Accessed April 17 2014.
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