James Lind's Treatise of the Scurvy (1753)

Postgrad Med J. 2002 Nov;78(925):695-6. doi: 10.1136/pmj.78.925.695.


Lind is revered as the first doctor to conduct systematic clinical trials of potential cures for scurvy-trials in which oranges and lemons came out as decisive winners. The following paper argues that our modern understanding of scurvy and vitamin C has hindered our understanding of Lind's own conception of his work and of the place within it of his clinical trials. Lind conceived of scurvy not as a disease of dietary deficiency, but of faulty digestion. In the full context of his Treatise of the Scurvy, and of his own medical practice, the seeming decisiveness of the trials fades, to be replaced by a sense of Lind's bafflement at the nature of the disease to which he had devoted his career.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / history
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Citrus*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / history
  • History, 18th Century
  • Humans
  • Scurvy / diet therapy
  • Scurvy / etiology
  • Scurvy / history*


  • Ascorbic Acid

Personal name as subject

  • James Lind