Letters to the Editor

Harris letter: Cure for scurvy

Kevin Hopper’s June 14 column mentions that “millions” of British sailors died from vitamin C deficiency or scurvy before naval doctors advised “daily rations of lemon or lime juice.”

An important part of this story is that North American Indians showed Europeans a high-vitamin C cure for scurvy 200 years before citrus was used for scurvy.

In “How to Live Longer and Feel Better,” two-time Nobel Prize recipient Linus Pauling wrote that when explorer Jacques Cartier and his men spent the winter of 1535 near present-day Quebec, many sailors died of scurvy and many others were very ill. “A friendly Indian advised them to drink a tea of the leaves and bark” of a particular tree — later found to be a good source of vitamin C. “The treatment was beneficial.”

In his book, “World Without Cancer,” G. Edward Griffin relates a similar account, referenced from a University of Oklahoma publication. According to Griffin, Cartier reported this incident to the European medical authorities. “But they were amused by such ‘witch-doctor cures of ignorant savages’ and did nothing to follow it up.”

Griffin notes that, because of scientific arrogance, people continued dying of scurvy for 200 years after a cure was known.

Violet Harris, Nampa