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Eur J Intern Med. 2011 Apr;22(2):147-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2010.10.006. Epub 2010 Nov 16.

Scurvy: past, present and future.

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Office for Study of History of Hellenic Naval Medicine, Naval Hospital of Athens, Greece.


This study outlines the major landmarks in the research on scurvy and its relationship to vitamin C. A thorough search including original manuscripts, books and contemporary reviews published in PubMed was conducted using as keywords "scurvy", "vitamin C", and "history of medicine". Observations on scurvy first appear in Egyptian medical scrolls 3500 years ago, and continue through to the discovery of vitamin C and the modern research on the physiological role of ascorbic acid. The observations of great navigators during the 15th and 16th centuries, when scurvy plagued ships' crews, played an important role in clarifying scurvy's etiology. Among the personalities in the history of the disease, James Lind and Albert Szent-Györgyi are most noteworthy, the first for conducting the first clinical trial on the treatment of scurvy with lemon and orange juices, and the second for discovering and identifying vitamin C.

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