Lind, James

born 1716, Edinburgh, Scot.
died July 13, 1794, Gosport, Hampshire, Eng.

Scottish naval surgeon and physician.

Having observed thousands of scurvy, typhus, and dysentery cases and the shipboard conditions that caused them, he published A Treatise on Scurvy in 1754, a time when scurvy killed more British sailors than combat. He recommended giving citrus fruits and juices (sources of vitamin C) to sailors on long voyages, a practice known to the Dutch for nearly two centuries. When the practice was fully instituted in 1795, scurvy disappeared from the ranks "as if by magic." Lind also suggested shipboard delousing and use of hospital ships, and he arranged for distillation of seawater for drinking.

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▪ British physician
born 1716, Edinburgh
died July 13, 1794, Gosport, Hampshire, Eng.
 physician, “founder of naval hygiene in England,” whose recommendation that fresh citrus fruit and lemon juice be included in the diet of seamen eventually resulted in the eradication of scurvy from the British Navy (Royal Navy, The).

      A British naval surgeon (1739–48) and a physician at the Haslar Hospital for men of the Royal Navy, Gosport (1758–94), Lind observed thousands of cases of scurvy, typhus, and dysentery and the conditions on board ship that caused them. In 1754, when he published A Treatise on Scurvy, more British sailors were dying from scurvy during wartime than were killed in combat. In an early example of a clinical trial, Lind compared the effects of Citrus fruits on patients with scurvy against five alternative remedies, showing that the fruit was noticeably better than vinegar, cider, seawater, and other remedies.

      Nearly two centuries earlier the Dutch had discovered the benefits of citrus fruits and juices to sailors on long voyages. In his Treatise and in On the Most Effectual Means of Preserving the Health of Seamen (1757), Lind recommended this dietary practice. When it was finally adopted by the Royal Navy in 1795, scurvy disappeared from the ranks “as if by magic.” Lind recommended shipboard delousing procedures, suggested the use of hospital ships for sick sailors in tropical ports, and arranged (1761) for the shipboard distillation of seawater for drinking. He also wrote An Essay on Diseases Incidental to Europeans in Hot Climates (1768).

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Universalium. 2010.

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