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Jacques Cartier - Cartierism
Jacques Cartier - Cartierism

Here we document cases of Cartierism: rediscovery by western medicine of pre-existing remedies and treatments.

Cartierism can be used to describe incidents of where the medical industry has taken information about a medical treatment without proper attribution, oftentimes from indigenous medicine resulting in cultural appropriation. Cartierism also describes cultural ignorance of efforts to discover alternate remedies while no effort is put into implementing an existing remedy.

Early Egyptians described the symptoms of scurvy, many authors point to The Ebers Papyrus from 1500BC that lists the symptoms of scurvy and suggests to eat onions according to the NSF nutrient database containing 11.8 mg per 16-g (1 cup), earlier works list an onion as having 30 mg. Perhaps those were better or larger onions although an average one is about a cup, chopped, roughly. At any rate folate and C are the only two vitamins found in onions and even at 11.8 g per cup that really isn't much. Possibly not enough. If the onions used had 30 mg of C that would make the Egyptian cure more practical. Also "bitter herbs" would have been a source of ascorbate, all leaves are. For thousands of years, bitter herbs have been used in alternative healing. Known as "bitters," these herbs can affect physiological reactions within the body, working as an astringent, a tonic, a relaxer, a stomachic, and an internal cleanser. In particular, bitter herbs have been used to improve digestion and counter inflammation. [1] [2] [3]

Hippocrates described them as well but the disease was so rare in the sunny climate the early Greeks, Byzantines and Arabs need and fruit was an integral part of diet than the disease as virtually unknown. Once wheat, which contained no vitamin C became a daily staple things began to change. Keep in mind it was tremendously hotter as well in the Greek and Roman era and because of the low population nutritious food was abundant - because all plant use C, eating any leaves will provide some in fact eating any vegetable will provide some, no plant can exist without it. But just as the human body stores it in different places; plants don’t store any in the seeds, so grains are notoriously deficient as are seed based diets. Scurvy seems to be more of a problem in cold climates, which makes sense, 2/3 of our calories go to thermogenesis, or the mammalians’ warm blooded property to regulate temperature by burning calories. So in cold climates there will be a greater number of chemical reactions which will require a greater number of the ascorbate enzyme to facilitate those reactions and thus more C is required in a cold climate than is in warm climates. The fact is it's colder now means overall our need for ascorbate has increased in time. Hippocrates recognizes the disease by mentioning it only in passing - apparently it just wasn't worth noting probably because of rarity. [4]

In the the 13th century crusaders contracted scurvy sometimes during lent and blamed the eel they ate at the time instead of meat. Despite being the middle east, onions had been lost from institutional memory as a cure.

In 1535, a French explorer named Jacques Cartier learned of a remedy for scurvy from the Native Americans of lower Canada, which was prepared by extracting the needles of pine trees with hot water. The first English reference to the disease occurred in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1565.

“In 1535, when Jacques Cartier landed in Canada for the second time, he sailed up the Saint Lawrence, and spent the winter at Stadacona. His ships were frozen in the ice for five months. A strange disease attacked the indigenous population, and then the French sailors. In a two month period, almost all Cartier's men became sick. Facing such a tragic situation, the explorer carried out an examination on a dead sailor and described what would later be called scurvy. The Indians were able to extract a medicine from a tree called Anneda. This medicine worked quickly and allowed the sailors to leave Canada in May. However, 25 of the 112 sailors had died during that icy winter.”[5]

We discovered scurvy again in the 1500s, during the first double blind test. The British navy conducted this test in the 1560s using oranges. [6][7]

We forgot again, in the turn of the 20th century:
In 1911 there was an "infantile scurvy epidemic when middle class mothers, afraid of the recent discovery of Listeria bacteria in milk, began heating it to kill the germ. This denatured the ascorbate and a million babies died of scurvy.[8] Once that was discovered fruit juice was substituted which some say was the origin for the obesity crisis.

So scurvy comes and goes. Our diet is generally okay and has enough daily leafy greens in it so it’s not something most people have to worry about. But it's not most people that are dying of trivial diseases such as flu. These are the people with inadequate diets, in every case.

So, people still die of scurvy. A healthy immune system - and there's no contest whatsoever that C is the most important molecule in the entire immune system, will prevent that. People that pay attention to this will never die of a silly deficiency disease as a result of an infection that followed an attack of the flu virus.

By 1990, 20% of admissions to London hospital for schizophrenia were scurvy.
It took man until 1933 to identify the vitamin C molecule, which obscures the point that natives explained to Cartier that tea made from a tree made his crew better, and when he returned to England, the courts said “what could we possibly learn from savages?”[9]

[9]Brian Sparkes
Related readings:
History Highlights of Nutrition

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