In scurvy, as mentioned before, the blood seems to undergo some great change, and there are accumulations of it beneath the skin. The gums become spongy, bleeding on the slightest touch, and the teeth frequently loosen. Blood often flows from the mouth and nose, or is vomited from the stomach, or is passed through the bowels. Dr. Garrod advanced the view that scurvy was dependent on a deficiency of potash in the system, and that vegetables which contained potash supplied the want. It is questionable, however, whether the disease is due to this fact alone, since beef tea, which contains a good deal of potash, may be given freely to a scorbutic patient, yet he fails to recover till proper anti-scorbutic diet is supplied. Dr. Ralfe found by experiments that when acids are injected into the blood, or an excess of acid salts administered, the same changes occur in the blood as in scurvy. Hence he supposes that the latter disease is caused by a decrease in the alkalinity of the blood, which results from the absence of fruit and vegetables from the food.
Now, although characteristic cases of scurvy are as a rule to be met with chiefly in sailors, yet there is no doubt that an insufficiency of the preceding in the dietary brings about an unhealthy condition of the system. Many typical examples of this are frequently seen in the patients admitted into our hospitals. They have been living, perhaps, in isolated districts in the country, where their sole food was mutton and damper, with no restriction placed on tea and tobacco. As a rule their skin presents evidences of the need of proper diet, for it looks unhealthy and is often covered with boils. But apart from these cases, which so plainly indicate the origin of the poor condition of the blood, there are many instances in which, from the want of vegetable food and fruit, the system becomes greatly deranged. Moreover, what is known as the blood being "out of order" is mostly due to an unsuitable diet, consisting of animal food in excess, and a corresponding deficiency of the other essentials.
The use of fruit, again, is especially indicated in persons disposed to the formation of uric acid in excess. When this actually occurs, the system becomes overloaded with deleterious matter, and the blood and body fluids are then saturated with a materies morbi. This morbific material is best understood by regarding it as being in an incomplete or half-way stage, in which form it is injurious. But, on the other hand, if it had proceeded to its final change, the completed product would have been harmless. Indeed, it is as the latter that it mostly leaves the body in ordinary conditions of health. "Well then, the retention within the system of this incompletely transformed material gives rise to various symptoms. One of them is a bitter or "coppery" taste in the mouth, notably in the early morning. Oftentimes, too, patients will complain that they do not feel at all refreshed on rising, even when they have slept fairly well - which does not happen too frequently. There may be also a great tendency to drowsiness, accompanied by severe pains in the limbs, coming on about an hour after meals. Other symptoms which are commonly met with are great irritability of the temper and lowness of spirits. There is frequently a headache of a peculiar kind. It comes on generally in the morning, and may last all day, or even for several days. It is a dull, heavy pain, felt most often in the forehead. A curious feature of the affection which sometimes exists is an incontrol-lable desire to grind the teeth during the waking hours. There are other symptoms, also, characteristic of the same malady, namely, palpitation of the heart and intermittency of the pulse; a liability to colds on the chest; and perhaps repeated attacks of difficulty in breathing. From all this it follows that a more liberal supply of fruit for such individuals would be followed by the most beneficial results, and their children might well be taught to follow their example. For it must be remembered that all fruits contain alkaline salts which are good for the blood. These alkaline vegetable salts become changed within the body, and converted into the carbonate of the alkali, in which latter form they pass out of the system.
But before finally closing this portion it is necessary to say a few words about olives, from which the famous olive oil is obtained, and indeed with regard to their virtues nearly a volume might be written. With many people the olive, like the tomato, is an acquired taste, and unfortunately too many fail to overcome their first impressions; but it is certainly worth acquiring, even if the process takes a long time and requires much perseverance, on account of its highly nutritive value. Children are often very fond of olives, and persistent efforts should be made to induce those who do not like them to overcome their aversion. We speak of "French olives" and "Spanish olives"; the former are gathered young, and are small and hard, while the latter are allowed to remain till a later period of growth, when they become softer and more pulpy. The French olives are more piquant in flavour than the larger kind. They are also better to eat as a fruit, though many prefer the Spanish, and are sometimes employed to clear the palate before drinking wines. The larger or Spanish olives are more adapted for cooking, as in the dish known as beef olives, and also for salads. There must be no misconception as to the name French or Spanish as applied to olives; it does not refer to the country from which they are derived, but simply serves to indicate that they are taken from the tree at a particular time in accordance with the habit observed in the respective countries. The mode of preparing the olives as they reach us is as follows: They have been gathered when green, and soaked first of all in strong lye - that is, water saturated with alkaline salt, obtained by steeping wood ashes in the former. They are next soaked in fresh water to remove the somewhat acrid and bitter taste, and are then bottled in a solution of salt and water. Ordinarily they are presented at table in a dish or other suitable vessel, with a little of the liquid in which they have been preserved. In conclusion it may be added that olives form an historical dish, for we are told that the supper of Milton the poet consisted usually of bread and butter and olives.