Until the Teeth Fall Out of Your Head

SCURVY SET INTO WILSON PRICE HUNT’S PARTY UNTIL THE SHOSHONE MEGA-DOSED THE EXPLORERS WITH THEIR SUPER-HIGH VITAMIN C ‘BUSH REMEDY.’

One day, during your struggles, you look down at your thigh. You should see a familiar scar from an old childhood wound. But now that scar has begun to pull apart, skin separating, as if the stitched seam in a pair of jeans has started to unravel.

Meanwhile, your teeth have grown so loose in your skull that, if you had the strength in your hands, you could pluck them out with your own fingers. The hair follicules on your legs have turned purplish. You bruise at the slightest touch.

As one description puts it, if this malady continues on its course, “the body will degenerate into a bleeding pulp for which death is a blessing.”

This is not some rare and frightening disease recently emerged from primate populations in Central African jungles. Rather, it is one of the oldest human maladies known. For four hundred years, it had a profound effect in shaping world history, and yet is almost forgotten today.

This “bleeding pulp” of the human body represents the end stages of scurvy.

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