Medical comforts during the heroic age of Antarctic exploration

In the literature of the exploration of the Antarctic in the early 20th century, there are many references to ‘medical comforts’. While ‘medical comforts’ was sometimes used as a euphemism for alcoholic beverages, the term, which originated in the army, covered all foods and drinks used for the treatment and prevention of illness and during convalescence. This article describes the use of medical comforts during the Antarctic expeditions of the so called ‘heroic age’. Apart from alcohol, medical comforts included beef extracts, milk extracts and arrowroot. These products were extensively advertised to the medical and nursing professions and to the general public and the Antarctic connection was sometimes used in the advertising. The products were largely devoid of vitamins and their use may have contributed to some of the disease that occurred on these expeditions.


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Authors: Guly, H.R.

1 April, 2013
Polar Record / 49
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