Coniferous kvass saved people from scurvy in 1940s
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Coniferous kvass saved people from scurvy in 1940s

November 17, 2022

In the winter of 1941, scurvy was rampant in Norilsk. It killed both prisoners and guards.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The cure for scurvy was offered by the prisoner-chemist Grigory Kalyuski, who led the sanitary and bacteriological laboratory. Back in 1938, the laboratory began studying the flora of Taimyr for the vitamin C.

Kalyusky himself drew a diagram of the unit for the larch needles distillation. The release of antiscorbutic decoction was established at lake Lama, for which they built a vitamin installation – the “vitaminka”.

By the spring of 1942, the plant began to produce coniferous concentrate. 400 liters of coniferous kvass were produced per day.

Doctors tested infusions of larch, spruce and alder on patients who could no longer move from scurvy. “Pervach” from larch, as the extract was jokingly called, in two weeks raised them to their feet.

According to memoirs, it was impossible to drink coniferous kvass without disgust – the whole day there would be a pine needles taste in the mouth. But otherwise no one was allowed into the canteens, so everyone took it. By the autumn of 1942, there were much fewer patients with scurvy.

In the History Spot’s previous publication, we told that in 1926-1927 the Subpolar Census took place in the country: the registrars did a truly titanic work, registering the population of the USSR’s northern outskirts.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive

November 17, 2022

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