Pioneer in Preventive Medicine. He received international recognition for his 18th century research of preventive medicine in the British naval fleet. His recommendation was that the British seaman include a fresh citrus fruit in their diet to prevent the disease of scurvy. Hundreds if not thousands of sailors were dying not from battle wounds or drowning in storms but slowly bleeding to death from scurvy. Since fresh fruit would rot easily, lime juice was administer daily to the crew, hence British sailors became known as “Limies”. Dr. Lind started his career in 1731 as an apprentice of Dr. George Langlands at Scotland's Edinburgh College of Surgeons before becoming a British naval surgeon's mate in 1739. In March of 1747, he was appointed surgeon of the HMS Salisbury, a 50-gun ship in charge of patrolling the English Channel. In 1748 after retiring from the Navy, he received his MD from Edinburgh University with his thesis on venereal diseases, married Isabell Dickie, and started his own private practice in the heart of Edinburgh. In 1758 he accepted the offer to become the chief physician at His Majesty's Royal Haslar Hospital for Men of the Royal Navy, on the island at Gosport. The new hospital building was still under construction but opened its door in 1754. One of Lind's first rules was all patients were to have a bath on admission outside the hospital and none of their clothes brought inside. In 1754, his “A Treatise on Scurvy” was published giving the details of his research. He became a pioneer of clinical trials when he divided the afflicted sailors into six groups of two and different treatments were given to each group for a period of fourteen days. The ones who ate citrus for fourteen days improved. The next year he published in the “Scots Magazine” the harmful effect from lead salts used in the glazes of earthenware, which were used for cooking. Besides scurvy, seamen were dying from typhus and dysentery all related to the poor living conditions on board the ship. In 1757 he published “On the Most Effectual Means of Preserving the Health of Seamen,” which gave his dietary recommendations. In 1763 he published two papers, one on fevers and the other on infections. Lind recommended shipboard delousing procedures, the use of isolation in hospital ships for sick sailors in tropical ports, and for drinking water to use distilled sea water. His last publication was in 1768, “An Essay on Diseases Incidental to Europeans in Hot Climates.” Lind's research led to the development of vaccinations in the mid-1700s, which prevented a host of diseases especially smallpox. On the bicentenary of Lind's publication of “A treatise of the Scurvy,” Edinburgh University reprinted the book and named their library the James Lind Library. In 1955 the Sunkist Grower of Citrus in California and Arizona presented a large plaque to the Medical School at Edinburgh University honoring Dr. James Lind as the “The Hippocrates of Naval Medicine.” Sir George Chalmers' portrait has him holding his three books with Haslar Hospital being seen through the window in the background. His younger cousin with the same name, Dr. James Lind, became the private physician of King George III. Upon his retirement in 1783, his son, John, succeeded him as chief physician at Haslar Hospital. During his professional career, he presented his findings several times to the Royal Naval Academy in hope for a corrective action. In 1795 the Royal Navy finally adopted his recommendations and scurvy was eradicated from the seamen; Lind had died the year before. Although Lind's research was a front-runner on the subject of vitamins, it would be the 20th Century before a more fully understanding of vitamin deficiency in causing diseases would be recognized.
Bio by: Linda Davis
Isabel Dickie Lind