Sweat it Out: Johannes de Gorter and Sudorifics in the Dutch Republic

Verwaal, R., 20-May-2017.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

Today, many go for a run, cover themselves under blankets, or sit in the sauna believing that they can ‘sweat out’ the common cold. Whereas modern medicine has falsified the efficacy of sweating as treatment, this paper considers the development of medical research about sweating in the early modern period, particularly the prescriptions of sudorifics, or sweat-inducing drugs. This paper focuses on Johannes de Gorter (1689–1762), a Dutch physician practicing in the port town of Enkhuizen, where he encountered many people suffering from the common cold. After experimenting with the Santorian weighing chair in different weather conditions and studying the symptoms of slime and runny noses, de Gorter prescribed sal ammoniac as the most effective treatment to literally sweat out the cold. Asking why he believed that profuse sweating through sal ammoniac could heal the diseased body, I trace his medical and experimental work, referring to his notions of sharp, thin, and resolving particles. I argue that de Gorter, as natural philosopher and practicing physician, built upon Santorio’s corpuscular theory and combined it with a study of the chemical properties of airs, morbid secretions, and evacuant drugs. As such, this paper aims to contribute to our understanding of the relationship between medical experimentation, chemical properties, and pharmaceutical drugs in the early eighteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20-May-2017
EventHumours, Mixtures, & Corpuscles: A Medical Path to Corpuscularism in the Seventeenth Century - Domus Comeliana, Pisa, Italy
Duration: 18-May-201720-May-2017


ConferenceHumours, Mixtures, & Corpuscles


Humours, Mixtures, & Corpuscles: A Medical Path to Corpuscularism in the Seventeenth Century


Pisa, Italy

Event: Conference


  • sweat, sudorifics

ID: 41035121