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The Health Advice of "Medicus"

For over 20 years, "Medicus" was the medical columnist for The Girl's Own Paper. Medicus was actually Gordon Stables, M.D., R.N. Gordon Stables was a prolific writer on a variety of topics; in addition to being a doctor, he was an ardent naturalist and an expert on dogs. He spent much of the year traveling in a self-designed "recreational vehicle" -- something like an overgrown gypsy wagon -- studying the countryside and collecting botany specimens.

Not surprisingly, therefore, his health advice tends toward repeated urgings to live a healthy, natural life, getting lots of fresh air and exercise, eating healthy foods, keeping one's room clean and free of dust, not fretting about imaginary ailments, and taking lots of cold baths. He rarely urges the use of medicine, and clearly considers that medications are over-used and over-relied-upon; his columns often give recipes for home-made beauty products and herbal remedies.

This section lists the columns of Medicus chronologically, from 1881-1902. (For all I know, he may have written more columns after that; 1902 is where my collection ends!)

1880
How Can I Look My Best?
Health and Beauty for the Hair
Lissom Hands and Pretty Feet
Bright Eyes and Teeth Like Pearl
The Care of the Voice
Baths at Home and Baths by the Sea
About sponge baths, plunge baths, and shower baths; how to take a "soap bath" (a form of sponge bath); the merits of cold and not-so-cold water; and when and how to bathe in the sea.
On Nursing the Sick

1881
Chilblains
"In simple language a chilblain, whether on the hands or feet, is nothing save a mitigated form of frostbite."
How to Be Healthy, Happy and Beautiful
Comedones
Simply put, pimples!
Some Useful Hints on Surgery
How to handle a variety of minor accidents and emergencies.
A Word with the Nervous
This piece addresses a physical "derangement of the nervous system" rather than an emotional state of "nerves."
The Toilet Table, and What Should Lie Thereon
How to tend your mirror; how to make your own bay rum; beauty compounds to avoid; choosing a healthy soap; and more!
On Summer Drinks
On the virtues of tea, cocoa and "cocoatina," the vices of beer and porter, and the blessings of buttermilk.
What May Be Done with Simple Herbs
The Holiday: How to Make the Best of It
How to stay healthy on one's holiday.
The Eyes and the Eyesight

1882
A Seasonable Word to the Wise
More tips on health and beauty.
The Mind and the Health
"It is far better to be old and hale than old and ailing," and amongst the ways to ensure this are to take up such practices as gardening, botany, keeping pets, collecting, and generally keeping one's mind in shape.
Maxims for the New Year
"Good habits are just as easily acquired as bad ones."
The Girl's Own Room
"Many a young girl sows the seeds of future illnesses, which eventually prove fatal, by sleeping for a time in a dusty room."
How to Be Healthy in Springtime
On the Benefits of Pure Water
This article explains how to make one's own water filter.
A Few Facts About Food and Digestion
A Few Words About Colds and Coughs
On the Virtues of Simple Herbs and Flowers
Tic-Douloureux and Toothache: Prevention and Cure
"Painless dentistry at one time used to be a meaningless term, but it is not so nowadays.... The Americans are exceedingly careful of their teeth. The English ought to take example by them; if they did we would see fewer old men and women with receding jaws or artificial teeth."

1883
Tea in Health and Sickness
A piece not only on the merits of tea, but describing exactly how to make a good cup, down to the type of pot itself that should be used.
How to Nurse and Tend the Aged
Medicines: When to Take and When to Avoid
A blind faith in the efficacy of medicine for the cure of diseases and the restoration of shattered systems to a state of health has been the ruin of many thousands."
Exercise, and How to Benefit by It
Early to Bed and Early to Rise
A Plea for Vegetables v. Drugs
Pure Air: What It Can Do
What a House Ought to Be to Be Healthy
Sleep
The Secret of Home Happiness and Wealth
In the "Fall" of the Year

1884
Things that Every Girl Should Learn to Do
Facts and Fallacies about Food and Physic
Work versus Idleness
A Beautiful Skin

1885
Milk: As Medicine and as Food
Health All the Year Round
Rheumatism in the Young
Common-Sense Advice for Working Girls
Some Simple Facts About Medicines
"It may well be said that a family medicine-chest...is a source of safety, but at the same time a source of danger."
Practical Hints About the Hair
An Invalid's Advice to Invalids

1886
A Few Questions Asked and Answered
This article looks chiefly at the education of children, boys and girls -- and suggests that it is often not done well.
Tonics: How to Use Them Beneficially
"I Remember, I Remember."
"There is even a duty in cultivating our memories and brain power."
How to Earn a Summer Holiday
"Presuming now that I am addressing work-a-day girls, and happily their name is legion, I must tell them that one of the first things to be done to earn a holiday is to save money to pay for it." The article the proceeds with a variety of tips on how to do just that -- chiefly by adopting a healthy, simple diet.
Toilet Table Elegancies
A host of tips on preparing your own cosmetics, from skin care to tooth powders and mouth washes.
Fish as Food, and Facts About Fishing
The Position of Body at Work or Studying

1887
The Weather and Health
I Only Wish I Had
"Had what? Taken better care of health while it lasted."
Spring: Its Troubles and Dangers
Health in the Kitchen Garden
Hope: As a Tonic for Body and Mind
Are We Leading Natural Lives?
Sleep, Gentle Sleep

1888
When Not to Take Medicine
What Working Girls Can Do For Themselves
"How About the Diet, Sir?"
Poverty of Blood: Its Cause and Cure
Summer by the Sea
Tips for the healthy, and not-so-healthy, to make the most of a stay at the seaside.
Beauty

1889
Remove the Cause
"If I were to be asked the two chief reasons for working girls...being sometimes for quite a long time in a poor state of health, I should give them as (1) Injudicious food; and (2) Too much faith in physic."
Before and Behind the Counter
On the dangers of the "fad of shopping," both upon the languid, bored shopper and the overtaxed shop girl behind the counter.
Hints About Housekeeping
"I want you to find home-cooking a healthful employment, and if you worry yourself you will get nervous, and nervousness spoils both sleep and complexion, and digestion also."
It's Strange, But It's True
How "irregularity of habit" is a greater thief of time than procrastination.
What Summer May Do for the Invalid
Christmas Comes but Once a Year,
Some Christmas reminiscences, and tips on how to have a safe and healthy holiday.

1890
"Shall I Ever Get Well, I Wonder?"
What to Do for Nervous Pains
"Why Am I So Pale?"
"The remedies we from heaven implore, Offtimes in ourselves do lie..."
About Personal Appearance
A Bundle of Nerves
This one is well worth reading for the account of the "black cat cure" (not recommended by the author).
Is Beauty Evanescent?
Health, Strength and Beauty
By Mountain, Stream or Sea
Tips on enjoying a healthy vacation.

1891
Health and the Toilet
"With the Best Intentions in the World"
This is basically a charming piece on why there is no medical column that month -- the author had "the best intentions," but the distractions of a lovely summer day (beautifully described herein) were too much for him...
"When'er You Feel Lazy You're Ill"
"Where There's a Will There's a Way"
"It is a fact well-known to physiologists and psychologists...that permitting the thoughts to dwell on some fancied coming ailment is the best method...of bringing it on. Now I defy you to change the current of your thoughts if you remain idle. Therefore I say, be up and doing."
"A Fellow-Feeling Makes Us Wondrous Kind"
Primarily on lumbago and rheumatic fever.
What to Do When June Comes
Pain: A Friend and Not a Foe
Health for Tropical Travelers
O'er the Seas and Far Away
Tending to the types of health issues most likely to occur whilst traveling, especially in tropical climes.

1892
Rational Toilet
Hints on the Care of the Feet
Beautiful Hands
Health and Complexion: A Roundabout Talk
How to Look Well in the Morning
"I've Got Nothing On That'll Spoil"
"A girl then should remember that, although she may have no dress on that will spoil, she has health, and she may spoil that."
Can't We Mount Above It?
On the complaint of ennui, its dangers, and the importance of rising above it.
About Rheumatism, and Its Kindred Ailments

1893
Myra and Kate: The Lesson Their Story Teaches
Chiefly on solutions for obesity.
"In the Fa' of the Year"
The Little Misses Miserable
Tips on rearing delicate children.
"Something Wrong with the Lamp"
"Is there not oftentimes something, my gentle reader, wrong with the lamp of life? Are there not times - months, perhaps - when we, without being downright ill, are less able than usual to face our duties, our work, and the world in general?"
"Find Happiness and You Find Health"
A Fit of the Blues
About Getting Farther East
"The farther we get away from self the farther east we get, and the happier we become... Bodily weakness does prevent us from doing good with anything like a will... It becomes, therefore, an actual sin, methinks, not to obey the simple golden rules that lead us to health..."
All Kinds and Conditions of Coughs
Poor Mother's Growing Old
Beauty and the Hands
The Poetry of Ablution
There is more to the bath than soap and water -- how about a whey bath, or a pine balsam bath, or a Turkish bath?
Nervous Girls

1894
Caught a Little Cold
Nothing to Do But Simply Get Well
Only a Mountain Daisy
On administering hope to the patient.
Summer Is Coming
Can Girls Increase Their Strength?
All About Myalgia
Hints About Summer and Autumn Touring,

1895
Preparing to Face the Winter
"Caught a Bit of a Chill, Perhaps"
1895
Tips on looking ahead to a healthy new year, resolutions, and a long life.
Neglected Colds and Winter Coughs
Some Special Points of Female Beauty
How to Be Merry in May
The Eyes: Their Strength and Beauty
Useful Pastimes for Health and Pleasure
On cycling, golf, cricket, lawn tennis, walking, boating, fishing and gardening.

1896
A New Year's Health Sermon
"A Bit Fanciful, Sir"
On the treatment of "nervous" ailments.
The Health in Springtime
"Between the Dark and the Daylight"
How to get better sleep when one is ill.
A Plain Talk with Sensible Girls
The Study of Nature for Health and Pleasure
Cycling: As a Pastime and for Health
A Holiday at Home
Chiefly about the benefits of bathing and a healthy diet!

1897
In Chill November
What Girls Might Do in December
When Bud and Burgeon Come Again
Quiet Hints for Spring and Early Summer
To Girls Who Wish to Be Well
"What Is the Name of This Ailment?"
We'll take a shortcut, and reveal that the name is "laziness."
A Bundle of Hints on Beauty
Holidays in the Green Country,
Tips on places to spend one's holiday in Britain.
Hydros and Health
Some of the pros and cons of "hydropathic" spas.
How to Be Happy in Winter

1898
Our New "G.O.P." Year
Chiefly About Rheumatism
Beauty: A Duty
From March Till May
Influenza: Diet and Treatment
Nugget for the day: "The word influenza is of course Italian, the symptoms of the horrible complaint having been supposed to be caused by the influence of the stars."
In the Joy of June
Healthy and Happy in July

1899
Words to the Wise or Otherwise
"Dinna Forget": A New Year's Sermon
Beauty in Woman: From a Man's Point of View
Our Mutual Friend the "Bike"
A Happy Healthy Girlhood
Will She Grow Out of It?
On some childhood ailments.
Sunshine: A Summer Sermon

1900
Physical Culture for Girls
A New Year's Gift to Our Girls
Home recipes for a variety of cosmetics and beauty products.
Spring Is Nigh
Some Words in Season
Hints About Health for June
What We Pay for Our Boots
"Of all parts of our body the feet are the most frequently deformed... The faults of modern boots are many, and each produces its special deformity." Covering bunions, corns, flat feet and more.

1901
A Few Words to the Wise
Health Hints for Winter Months
Nature's Soft Nurse [Sleep]
The Beauty of Health: A Paper in Pars
Health
This article covers such topics as over-excitement, love and marriage, emancipation (not in favor), cycling, digestion, and lumbago!
Natural Beauty and How to Obtain It

1902
Beauty Hints
Mind the Measure of True Beauty
Home Truths About Beauty
Copyright © 2017 by
Moira Allen.
All rights reserved.

Magazine Abbreviations:
CFM = Cassell's Family Magazine GOP = Girl's Own Paper ILA = Illustrated London Almanack S = The Strand
AM = Atlantic Monthly C = Century Magazine D = Demorest's Monthly Magazine G = Godey's Lady's Book H = Harper's Monthly
Find out more about the magazines used on this site!
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