Lind was a Scottish doctor, a pioneer of naval hygiene and expert on the treatment of scurvy.
James Lind was born in Edinburgh in 1716. In 1731, he registered as an apprentice at the College of Surgeons in Edinburgh and in 1739 became a surgeon's mate, seeing service in the Mediterranean, Guinea and the West Indies, as well as the English Channel. In 1747, while serving as surgeon on HMS Salisbury, he carried out experiments to discover the cause of scurvy, the symptoms of which included loose teeth, bleeding gums and haemorrhages.
Lind selected 12 men from the ship, all suffering from scurvy, and divided them into six pairs, giving each group different additions to their basic diet. Some were given cider, others seawater, others a mixture of garlic, mustard and horseradish. Another group of two were given spoonfuls of vinegar, and the last two oranges and lemons. Those fed citrus fruits experienced a remarkable recovery. While there was nothing new about his discovery - the benefits of lime juice had been known for centuries - Lind had definitively established the superiority of citrus fruits above all other 'remedies'.
In 1748, Lind retired from the navy and went to Edinburgh University to take professional qualifications. In 1753, he published 'A Treatise of the Scurvy' and in 1757 'An Essay on the Most Effectual Means of Preserving the Health of Seamen in the Royal Navy', which threw much light on the appalling living conditions and diet of seamen. In 1758, he was appointed physician to the Naval Hospital at Haslar in Gosport where he investigated the distillation of fresh water from salt water for supply to ships.
In 1763, Lind published work on typhus fever in ships and in the 1768 publication 'An Essay on Diseases Incidental to Europeans in Hot Climates' he summarised the prevalent diseases in each colony and gave advice on avoiding tropical infections. Lind died in 1794 in Gosport.
Although the importance of Lind's findings on scurvy were recognised at the time, it was not until more than 40 years later that an official Admiralty order was issued on the supply of lemon juice to ships. With this, scurvy disappeared almost completely from the Royal Navy.
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