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Title: The treatment of scurvy before the nineteenth century
Author: Wilson, Graham M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1947
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In a brief survey of what has gone before, it will be seen that sufferers from the disease of scurvy have fared in similar fashion to the victias of most other diseases through the centuries. Here and there a physician or layman has had the powers of observation and the acumen to find an effective remedy for what must have been a very prevalent disease in the days of widespread war, destruction, and famines in the northern continent of Europe. However, tales passed from mouth to mouth of methods, accounted by their retailer, as exclusive and certain on no other evidence than hear say, proved more acceptable than the observations of those with intimate personal knowledge of the disease, and had only themselves to thank for the delay which occurred between the first attempts at cure and the final and better understanding of scurvy with proper organisation for its treatment. It is perhaps idle to express surprise at the lack of initiative in the introduction of suitable therapeutic remedies during the last part of the 18th century. We need only look to the incidence and preventive treatment of bovine tuberculosis in our own day for a parallel. As with many other advances in all spheres of scientific endeavour, Hardship as experienced in the great explorations of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centurles, and War throughout the ages have proved to be the strongest stimuli to experiment and to advance. Nor is it remarkable that the Dutch physicians in the 16th century should have contributed so much to further discovery and practice in the treatment of scurvy. During that period their culture and tolerant progressive spirit were of inestimable value to Europe in many other fields than medicine. They also had the advantage of endemic experience of the disease and of knowledge of its possible causation from their adventurous trading seamen. However, when the expansion of British trade took our ships and men-of-war on dangerous and important missions over vaster distances than had ever been dreamt hitherto, knowledge of the disease of scurvy and greater certainty of method for its cure, were demanded a necessity. Men of invention and genius were forthcoming, and principally from Scotland. Blane was a graduate of Glasgow University, while both Lind and Trotter came from Edinburgh University. As a result of their efforts frank scurvy was to become a clinical curiosity, so well had they ascertained the means of relief of a disease which had long been the scourge of the ages.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (M.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available