6.14.2009

History of Scurvy
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Having scurvy wouldn't be very fun, according to this well-referenced Harvard Law paper. In Western civilization, it took hundreds of years for the scientific consensus to build on a cure.

While a treatment was suggested in the Ebers papyrus (eat onions-which contain vitamin C) before 1500 B.C.E., this tip was forgotten amongst the general fragmentation of knowledge. Various cultures had remedies, but there was no way to preserve and share this information.

The disease occurs when consumption of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) drops below 8-10 mg per day for several months - a condition possible when there is no access to fruit and vegetables. Amongst mammals, humans and guinea pigs are uniquely unable to synthesize Vitamin C in the body, but require an external source. Lack of Vitamin C causes production of collagen to breakdown and faulty gene expression in cells, leading to the shocking symptoms.

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