Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Pellagra

  • Liver, lime, and vitamins

    The history of vitamins traces back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, who observed that certain foods were important in maintaining health. These observations were later supplemented by clinical studies. Among these studies were those of the Russian physician Nikolai Lunin. As a student in Basel in 1881, he fed groups of mice with…

  • Corn, pellagra, and modern medicine—How an ancient disease was recognized in South Carolina’s state lunatic asylum

    Brody Fogleman Harsh Jha Noel Brownlee JuliSu DiMucci-Ward Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States   James Woods Babcock (1856–1922). Photo courtesy of the Waring Historical Library, MUSC, Charleston, SC. Pellagra is a disease of vitamin B3 (niacin) deficiency. Niacin is the precursor for many physiologic processes involving nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), an enzyme that carries out…

  • Andersonville, Georgia and Elmira, New York: When Hell was on Earth

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”— Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy When the American Civil War (1861–1865) began neither the Union nor the Confederacy gave much thought to housing prisoners-of-war (POWs). Eventually, the two opposing sides had a total of about 120 POW camps.1 The two armies had captured a total of…

  • Darling of Panama

    Enrique Chaves-Carballo Kansas City, Kansas, United States Samuel Taylor Darling, widely considered as the foremost American tropical parasitologist and pathologist of his time, was born in Harrison, New Jersey on April 6, 1872. He studied medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Baltimore, graduating in 1903 at the top of his class and…

  • Theme

    WOMEN IN MEDICINE Published in November, 2019 H E K T O R A M A     .     ALICE HAMILTON     The squalid streets of working-class Chicago in the late nineteenth century would have been something of a shock to the girl who grew up in a sheltered but educated household…

  • Pellagra: A medical whodunit

    Putzer J. HungSaint Louis, Missouri, United States “What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence. The question is, what can you make people believe that you have done?”– Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet Beginning in 1902, a strange epidemic struck the southern United States. Victims, often women and children of…

  • “Our daily bread”—The scourge of pellagra

    Meera LadwaLondon, England, United Kingdom In the northern Italian town of Ferrara hangs a little-known painting by Giuseppe Mentessi (1857–1931). Surrounded by a field of maize, a woman carries her exhausted child in her arms, her eyes downcast with suffering. Behind this painting lies a story of medicine, food, economics, and culture—the story of pellagra,…

  • Cicely Williams and kwashiorkor

    Sue Reeves Roehampton, London, UK   Figure 1. Dr Cicely Williams in later years on a visit to Ghana (The Wellcome Trust, London). Cicely Delphine Williams (1893-1992) has been described as achieving  the ‘physician’s dream’1 by diagnosing, identifying the cause, and finding a prevention and a cure for a disease.2  The disease she identified was…