The History and Cure of Scurvy: From Anecdotal Evidence to Clinical Trials

TLDR Scurvy, a deadly disease caused by a lack of vitamin C, plagued sailors during the age of exploration. Through trial and error, including anecdotal evidence and clinical trials, the cure for scurvy was discovered, leading to its near elimination in the modern world.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Scurvy is a deadly disease caused by a lack of vitamin C that killed over 2 million sailors during the age of exploration.
02:01 Scurvy is a deadly disease caused by a lack of vitamin C that leads to the breakdown of collagen, resulting in symptoms such as bleeding gums, bruising, and skin bleeding.
03:32 Scurvy became a serious problem during the age of exploration when ships set out on long voyages with a diet lacking fresh food, resulting in many deaths from the disease.
04:59 During the age of exploration, Scurvy was a major problem for sailors, and although there were many theories on how to treat it, the cure was repeatedly discovered through anecdotal evidence and conjecture, such as making tea from pine needles or consuming oranges and lemons.
06:25 Captain James Cook greatly reduced Scurvy among his crew by requiring them to consume sauerkraut and fresh fruits and vegetables, but it was Scottish Dr. James Lind who conducted the first clinical trial and discovered that lime juice was the most effective cure for Scurvy, leading to the Royal Navy mandating the daily consumption of lime juice for sailors and essentially eliminating the disease.
07:52 Scurvy can also be prevented by consuming fresh meat, such as horse meat, which contains vitamin C, and it is extremely rare today but can still occur in cases of poor diet.
09:24 Scurvy has been all but eliminated in the modern world thanks to centuries of trial and error and 20th century discoveries.
Categories: History Education

Browse more History