Scurvy is a disease accompanied by a depraved state of the blood, attributed to improper diet, assisted by bad air and mental depression. It is generally cured by a good mixed and fresh diet. Sound potatoes, and other vegetables containing salts of potash, are said to prevent it; but as a substitute for these, lemon juice, when much salt food is used, has been found very efficacious, and it is therefore always provided for the use of the Royal Navy, which, though once dreadfully afflicted with this disease, is now nearly exempt from it ; a result mainly attributable to a great and general improvement in discipline, ventilation, and diet.
This disease was very prevalent and destructive in England before the general cultivation of the potato, and it became again a common disease among the poor in several parts of the country, when the extensive potato-blight occurred in 1846. At that time Dr. Baly remarked, that the military prisoners at Millbank, dieted like the other prisoners, except that they had no potatoes, were alone attacked by scurvy on that occasion, and when potatoes were supplied to them the disease ceased. It is probable that the citric and tartaric acids existing in the potato are combined with the nutriment in such a manner as to be peculiarly adapted to the blood, since the potato is found even more advantageous in many cases of scurvy than lemons and oranges. I dwell on this point because it proves that small variations in diet are capable of producing vast effects on health, and that but for a fair and full distribution of the fruits of the earth, disease would be far more destructive than at present; and by neglect of small points in the diet of the poor, maladies from depraved blood would be now as rife and terrible as in the darker ages. The method by which potatoes are dried, so as to be fit to form part of ship-store, is an important invention, and highly valuable to sailors, since they may thus obtain in any climate a dish of mash-potatoes with the help of a little warm water.
Observing the benefit resulting from the use of phosphate of soda in certain depraved conditions of the blood, I think it probable that this salt would be of great service in scurvy. The proper dose would be from ten to thirty grains a day. As scurvy arises from salted meat in the absence of fresh meat and vegetables, the theory of its cause and cure almost resolves itself into a chemical problem. All animals need salt, since it furnishes ingredients for the blood, and is essential to digestion and secretion. How, then, is salted meat injurious? Simply from the circumstance that, in salting meat, the common salt takes the place of the soluble phosphates of the flesh, while these phosphates, so requisite for the production of healthy blood and sound flesh, are almost entirely removed from the flesh into the brine. It becomes then important to discover some better plan of preserving meat. By the exclusion of air, as by filling tin cases with meat, and then soldering them, meat may be preserved for years. The best plan is to make a real concentration of the animal juices, as in portable soup. What is generally sold under this name, is but a gelatinous mass of very little value as nourishment. The following is the method of preparing this soup, or extract of meat, abridged from Liebig:— Chop very fine one pound of lean beef; mix it well with an equal weight of cold water; slowly heat the mixture to boiling; after boiling briskly a minute or two, strain through coarse linen. Salt and flavour according to taste, and tinge it with roasted onion or burnt sugar. This, when concentrated by slow evaporation, is a dark soft mass, half an ounce of which in a pint of water, makes a strong well-flavoured soup.
Source: Health, Disease and Remedy, George MooreFiled under Remedy | Tags: blood, deficiency, diet, extract of meat, lemon, lemon juice, meat, moore, onion, phosphate of soda, potash, potatoes, scurvy, soup, sugar | Comment (0)