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Lind, James

scurvy fruit citrus sailors

(1716–94) British physician: rediscovered cure for scurvy.

A surgeon’s apprentice at 15, Lind became a naval surgeon. Scurvy (‘the plague of the sea’) was first seen in sailors at the end of the Middle Ages when sea voyages began to take months. The surgeon John Woodall (1556?–1643) described in his book The Surgeon’s Mate the prevention and cure of scurvy by eating citrus fruit (such as limes, oranges and lemons) but this was soon forgotten. In 1747 Lind experimented by dividing a dozen scorbutic sailors into six pairs given different diets for 14 days. He found that citrus fruit with the diet gave much improvement in 6 days; and in 1754 he published A Treatise on the Scurvy . Adoption of the treatment and use of fruit to prevent the disease was slow, although used the method in his great southern explorations of the 1770s, losing only one man (out of 118) to scurvy in 3½ years. Only by 1795 was lime juice given regularly to sailors; even so, cases were still reported in the following century, from prisons, the Crimean War and polar expeditions (possibly including Scott’s). By 1907, Norwegian workers had induced scurvy experimentally in guinea pigs, classic work on vitamins had begun and in 1928 isolated vitamin C (ascorbic acid), present in citrus fruit, deficiency of which leads to scurvy.

Lindblad, Bertil [next] [back] Lincoln Motion Picture Company, The (1915–1923)

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