The Conquest of Scurvy in the Royal Navy 1793-1800: a Challenge to Current Orthodoxy

By Brian Vale, published May 2008


The article reviews how the Royal Navy attempted to understand the cause of scurvy, followed by implementation of a cure and prevention. James Lind undertook trials to cure this common illness, most often found on the long journeys to warmer climates, and the trials he conducted influenced Sir Gilbert Blane and Dr Thomas Trotter to introduce the drinking of lemon (or other citrus fruits) on all ships. The article shows how it was the power of the decision makers (mainly Admirals) to implement such changes, by a process of trial and practical understanding, rather then at an academic level which brought about change. The delay in implementation was due to the lack of professional external medical advice sought by the Sick and Hurt Board.

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Filed under: Other (Eighteenth C) | Health at Sea | Other (location)
Subjects include: Navies

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