Making History With Vitamin C
Why did 90% of Magellan’s crew die off?
They died of scurvy
What is scurvy?
A disease caused by a deficiency of ascorbic acid molecule and dietary vitamin-C.
What are the symptoms of scurvy?
swelling of arms and legs, softening of gums, excessive bruising, hemorrhaging from nose and mouth, foul breath, diarrhea, muscle pain, loss of teeth, depression lung and kidney problems, ect. Usually death comes in the form of “acute” infection
Where does the world scurvy come from?
Norse, the language of the vikings. The vikings used scurvy grass to avoid the disease.
Why did Scurvy increase in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries?
because now that they could go farther, explorers didn’t have such easy access to fresh food.
Why were most sailors unhealthy?
Because on the ships hygiene was bad so it was easier to get diseases, infections and such.
Why was the food on ships mainly hardtack (overcooked rock hard bread) and salted meat?
Because nice things like bread, meat, cheese, flour and butter spoiled. Also because they didn’t often use fire so they didn’t heat food very much.
What was the leading cause of death at sea (its not piracy, shipwreck or naval battles)?
How did the Chinese deal with scurvy?
By growing fresh ginger in pots on ships.
How did Captain James Lancaster deal with scurvy?
He kept bottles of lime juice and anyone who showed signs of scurvy was dosed with 3 tablespoons a day. Nobody on his ship died, but on his other two ships his orders to prevent scurvy had been ignored and death toll was high.
What remedy did local Indians suggest to explorer Jaques Cartier?
Spruce tree needle infusion
What experiment did James Lind conduct?
He took 12 twelve men suffering from scurvy and split them in six groups, each group had a special diet and a special medicine. Those receiving citrus as their medicine immediately recovered.
Even when the cure for scurvy was known in Europe, why wasn’t it used?
Because it was expensive to store fruits or try to concentrate them, many also blamed scurvy on other things besides lack of vitamin-c.
Since the cure for scurvy was not kept on many ships what was done instead?
Taking as many sailors as possible and hoping they didn’t die.
Why did Scurvy trouble the regular crew more then the officers?
Because the regular crew wanted to eat meat when they came to port, not fresh fruits and vegetables. The officers were more likely to try the “exotic” foods due to their rich background.
What was special about the way James cook handled his ship?
He made sure there was good hygiene, he made sure his men had a good diet (when fresh food was not possible they ate sauerkraut). To make them eat his food he let the only officers have it for a week so the crew would see the effect.
What is Cook credited for discovering?