Seaweed-Iodine-Goitre /Indian history

Wed Sep 27 21:01:32 UTC 1995

Use of iodine-bearing seaweed / sponge in goitre treatment is documented
from antiquity in China, and from c.12th C. in Europe. One might expect
some early reference to it in Northern Indian / Himalayan history; but I
have found nothing before 1826, when Ainslie mentioned 'sponge' being
sold in the bazars of Lower India.  Subsequent writers (e.g. Traill,
Royle, Honigberger, Cope and many later) identified a N.Indian remedy *
gillur-ke-patta *  (many variant transliterations) as Laminaria
saccharina.  Nobody was sure whether merchants brought it from China,
Tibet, the Aral Sea or the Red Sea.

Any suggestions for earlier seaweed / sponge dates?  Persian, Kashmiri
or Tibetan sources?    Whatever ??

Apart from Susruta on the variety of goitres, and a probably goitrous /
possibly cretinous  figure in a Gandhara frieze of the Buddha,  goitres
seem hardly conspicuous in S.Asian history and literature.  Before 1750,
they are mentioned by Marco Polo and Abul Fazl...

Who else?

M.Miles, Birmingham


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