Scurvy is in fact the vitamin C deficiency, one of the most serious diseases affecting teenagers, children and adults alike nowadays. Also known as Barlow’s disease, Scurvy can prove to be fatal if an individual does not get proper treatment.
It is caused by a dietary lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), a nutrient found in many fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly the citrus fruits. Ascorbic acid is important in the formation of collagen (an element of normal tissues). When collagen is made, the proline amino acids are changed to hydroxyproline, by a process called post-translational modification. An enzyme called prolyl hydroxyls catalyses this change. This enzyme requires a Fe2+ ion to be present. Fe2+ is relatively unstable, and will become oxidized easily. Ascorbic acid, a water-soluble antioxidant, keeps Fe in the 2+ form, and not in the more stable 3+ form. Therefore, any deficiency interferes with normal tissue synthesis.
Scurvy is also characterized by swollen and bleeding gums with loosened teeth, soreness and stiffness of the joints and lower extremities, bleeding under the skin and in deep tissues, slow wound healing, and anemia. You should know that the human body lacks the ability to synthesize and make vitamin C and therefore depends on exogenous dietary sources to meet vitamin C needs, so the treatment for scurvy relies on the consumption of fruits and vegetables or diets fortified with vitamin C. In 1746, James Lind, a British naval surgeon, established the fact that oranges and lemons were effective in curing scurvy. The incidence of scurvy among the British sailors sharply declined upon routine provision of lemon juice on board.
So it’s very important to eat oranges, any kind of citrus fruits, olives, guava, green peppers, watermelon, papaya, strawberry, berries, kiwi fruit, mango, honey, mango powder, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach and potatoes. Another effective remedy for scurvy is the use of aamchur, a popular article of diet in Indian houses, consisting of green mangoes – skinned, stoned, cut into pieces, dried in the sun and powdered. Fifteen grams of aamchur are believed to be equivalent to thirty grams of good lime because of its citric content.
Furthermore, the leaves of the Jaundice berry plant are anti-scorbutic or anti-scurvy. A decoction of the leaves can be prepared by boiling 15 gm of dried leaves in 500 ml of water until it is reduced by one-third. About 150 to 175 ml of the decoction can be taken at a time.
Note that vitamin C is sensitive to light, air, and heat, so it is best to consume fruits and vegetables raw, or minimally cooked in order to retain their full vitamin C content.
Remember! Adults need to consume around 300-1,000 mg of ascorbic acid per day and 50mg/day in case of infants to effectively treat the disease.