During the thirteen years of my practice in the City of Calcutta I had never had an opportunity of treating a case of “Land Scurvy” prior to January 23 last, when a gentleman entered my office with a sick boy of twelve years.
On inquiry I learned that the boy had been suffering for two months and was under the treatment of a very skilful physician (allopath) of this city, but without any improvement. I examined the child and found the following: The face was pale; the colour of the skin was not natural. The Patient was very weak and emaciated, and felt extremely exhausted on slight exertion. He complained of flying pains in the limbs and especially in both popliteal spaces, which seemed to me somewhat swollen.
I did not notice any swelling of the extremities. The facial glands (Parotid and Submaxillary) of both sides were enlarged and indurated. On examining the throat, I found that both the tonsils were inflamed and made deglutition difficult. The gums were enormously swollen, because fleshy and spongy, easily bleeding and projecting beyond the teeth. The teeth were loosened d the patient could not chew even the softest diet. There was frequent bleeding from the left nostril.
I did not find anything abnormal after examining the respiratory and circulatory system; but found a few haemorrhagic spots on the thigh. The occasional complication, dysentery was wanting here; rather the patient was constipated. There was no impairment of vision (Hemeralopia) which occurred very frequently as stated by Dr.F.Taylor in his “Practice,” nor was there dropsical swelling of the legs as mentioned by Dr. J.Lawrie. There was no fever from the very beginning. The pulse was slow and there was much depression of spirits.
I inquired about the diet of the patient, to find out whether there was any lack of vegetables or fresh milk, as our aetiology of scurvy teaches (stand by almost all the authors, e.g., R.Hughes, Jahr, Taylor, Lawrie, Allen, Herring, Raue, etc.), but the father of the patient assured me that they had an ample supply of fresh milk and vegetables, which my little patient corroborated. And I am sure that in India, especially in Bengal, there cannot be a lack of fresh vegetable diet and of milk, even in the poorest class of people and I am doubly sure that there was no deficiency of vegetables and fresh milk in this patients case at least.
The hygienic surroundings of the patient were not altogether bad. I took the case for treatment and prescribed no medicine, according to Dr.Richard Hughes vide: “His Principles and Practice of Homoeopathy,” page 307, in which he advises thus: “Scurvy is a typical instance of a disease resulting from pure dietetic causes and requiring pure dietetic treatment. It is generally sufficient to place the sufferer on a full hospital diet comprising as it does, fresh meat and vegetables with milk; and nothing more is required for the case”.
I advised the patient to be kept strictly under a diet containing fresh meat juice (as meal he cannot chew), well boiled or over-boiled vegetables and plenty of fresh milk for a fortnight.
The patient came again on the tenth of February without any improvement, but in a worse condition. His gums were ulcerated and painful, and bled even while he was speaking. I prescribed some of the medicines as stated by Dr.Raue, according to the indications, e.g., Arsenic, Carbo veg., and Mercurius, but to no purpose. The only good which mercurius did, was to remove the pain in deglutition.
On February 26, I prescribed Kali chloricum 6x, I gr. to be taken thrice daily with water, on the strength of the works of Dr.Garrod, who believes “that the lack of potassium salt in the system, brings about such conditions,” but Dr.C.A.Raue in his “Special Pathology with Therapeutical Hints.” page 848, declares this theory as “obviously wrong”.
Not knowing whether I was correct the selection of the medicine, I prescribed Kali chloricum 6x, I gr., thrice daily and on the second of March to my utter surprise, the boy came to me with a bright face. He recovered from his weakness a great deal and could speak rather distinctly; he could chew his food, which previously he had either to swallow or forsake, quite disgusted. The enlarged facial glands came back to their normal condition. The ulceration of the gums healed and the bowels moved regularly. In short, the patient improved in all respects. The prescription was repeated twice daily and on the tenth of March he was free from all complaints and was found cured. Since then he had been progressing very rapidly and is now is perfect health.