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Scorbutic gums, a symptom of scurvy.

Scurvy is a disease resulting from a deficiancy of vitamin C, which is required for the synthesis of collagen in the body.[1]


One of the most commonly known symptoms of scurvy is loose teeth and receding gums. Other early symptoms include bleeding, both under the skin and in deep tissue, fatigue and anaemia, pain in the joints and subsequent difficulty walking. The latter can be attributed to decrease in collagen as vitamin C levels decrease. This would make the bones rub painfully together when moving, making walking difficult or impossible.[1]

Later symptoms include cerebral hemorrhage, blood loss or convulsions.[1]


Scurvy was once a common disease amongst sailors when these when on long voyages, as food on these journeys usually was limited to foodstuffs that would keep for a long time aboard, such as hardtack or salted meats. These foodstuffs were limited in nutritional variety, which lead to diseases like scurvy.[1]

Texts dating back to the year 1611 mention lemon juice as a remedy for scurvy. This theory was tested and proven by the englishman James Lind in 1757.[1] However, the disease was still common aboard ships of the British Navy more than a century later, in 1875.[2] Earlier than that, in 1535-1536, the French explorer Jaques Cartier was taught by First Nations peoples to treat scurvy amongst his crew with infusions of evergreen needles in tea.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Askew, G. & Paquette, J. (2007) (in english). Secrets of Supplements (1st ed.). PhyteMedia. pp. 15-16, 137. ISBN 978-0-9784290-0-3. 
  2. Flytlie, K.T. (2007) (in danish). Vitaminer og mineraler (1st ed.). People'sPress. p. 11, 16. ISBN 978-87-91293-97-9. 
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