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Chauncy MorlanMarshall_Lambert

Photo: Right: The celebrated Daniel Lambert who weighed 739 lbs. when he died in 1809. Left: Chauncy Morlan, early 19th century.

This is a follow-up post on obesity and weight loss from earlier this week. Continuing with Dr. William Wadd’s treatise on obesity, we find several instances of gentlemen who lost goodly amounts of weight although by today’s standards perhaps not by the healthiest of means. For example the gentleman who took nothing other than tea and a few biscuits until he was satisfied with his weight and agility.

He documented weight loss and improved health by Catholics through their observance of Lent, a time of fasting, or at least giving up certain luxuries between Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday or Easter Eve (depending on your church’s interpretation, it is generally 40 days). I found his comments interesting as giving up all sweets for Lent is part of my current diet strategy.

“Dodart, physician to Louis XIV generally lost ten pounds weight during Lent, having made the experiment for thirty years: always weighing himself the first and last day.”

Dr. Wadd also mentioned briefly the pros and cons of using vinegar in a weight loss regimen, which I found interesting since I have a container of vinegar fermenting in our pantry which might contribute to my weight loss regimen. At the very least, my pantry smells heavenly.

We enjoy shrub which I make from juice, usually blackberry juice, good vinegar, and sugar. It is added to cold water in any quantity to suit the palate and is quite refreshing. My last batch was made with a combination of blackberries and blueberries (not a fan of the blueberries, and I intend to tweak the batch). The reader may remember a product patterned after shrub and sold as a health drink called Jogging in a Jug.

The Spanish General, Chiapin Vitellis, supposedly reduced his size so much by drinking vinegar that he could, “fold his skin around his body”. That is not a pleasing picture or one I aspire to, but vinegar has been known to have health attributes for centuries. “It was the common drink of the Roman soldiers: every one was obliged to carry with him a bottle of it, which was occasionally mixed with water…”.

“The Ancients were so sensible of the Force of Stimulating in this Case, that the celebrated Remedy against Fat was a certain quantity of the vinegar of squills taken every morning…”.

Squill grew around the seacoast of the Mediterranean, although it was not confined only to the coast and was abundant in southern Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Corsica, southern France, Italy, Malta, Dalmatia, Greece, Syria, Asia Minor and it extended to the Canary Islands and the Cape of Good Hope. It was documented as being cultivated in England in 1648 in the Oxford Botanic Gardens. The Ancients who wrote of vinegar of squills included Pliny and Dioscorides.

Sources: Arbuthnot, John. An Essay Concerning the Nature of Aliments, and the Choice of Them. 1735. London. Wadd, William, M.D. Comments on Corpulency. 1829. London. Botanical.com online version of – Grieve, M., Mrs. A Modern Herbal. 1931.