Chapter 2
A Revolution in Outlook

ROBERT McCarrison, now Major-General Sir Robert McCarrison, qualified as a medical practitioner at Queen's University, Belfast, in 1900. He entered the Indian Medical Service and sailed for India on his twenty-third birthday.

He was posted as regimental medical officer to the Indian troops, stationed as warden to the frontier march of Chitral, between the Gilgit Agency on the east and Afghanistan on the west, in the heart of a country which, as we shall see in the penultimate chapter, is likely to prove one of the utmost significance in the history of food.

McCarrison had the inborn mind of a research worker. He quickly displayed it in the accustomed manner of medical research. Eighteen months after his arrival in India he was stationed at the isolated Fort of Drosh. The winter was cold but healthy. In the summer it was hot and dry, and then, as he reports in his Lloyd Roberts Lecture in 1937, "there fell upon us a strange sickness which few escaped." Here was the characteristic opportunity of the young medical research worker -- a strange sickness.

McCarrison seized the opportunity with unalloyed scientific gladness, for the disease was not a serious one -- a sharp three-day fever. He made every sort of investigation possible with his meagre equipment. He observed and tabulated the outbreak of the epidemic, the nature of its spread, the ages of the sufferers, its great prevalence amongst new-comers, the immunity of those previously attacked, and its absence above a certain altitude. He sent for his microscope and some simple laboratory apparatus. He examined hundreds of blood films for malaria and found it absent. Quinine also had no effect on the fever or its symptoms. He tried to grow microbes from the blood of patients and failed. He inoculated volunteers with the blood of the affected with no result. He made mosquito-surveys and sand-fly-surveys, to see if the fever was possibly conveyed by their bites. He finally came strongly to suspect sand-flies as the conveyers of the disease, and again and again submitted volunteers to bites by these insects, which had been fed on fevered patients, and again with no result. So he published his results without proving the cause, and "Three-day Fever of Chitral" figured in the text-books. Soon it was recognised that this fever prevailed, as McCarrison predicted, in other parts of India, and also in Dalmatia, Malta, Crete, and other Mediterranean stations. In 1908 Doerr confirmed McCarrison's suspicions, and the disease henceforth came to be known as sand-fly fever.

The young McCarrison followed this excellent piece of research with one which still claims his interest, though that interest has now merged into the greater one of his later work.

In his Milroy Lectures of 1912 he described what the research worker, working by means of the outlook of disease, regards as a piece of good fortune. In the Gilgit Agency, to which he was appointed surgeon 1904-1911, another experiment on a grand scale in disease, not health, was being carried out by nature, in a manner that excited his keen interest. The disease was that of goitre, or enlargement of the thyroid gland, which lies in front of the wind-pipe.

In the introduction of his first lecture he expressed his joy in being provided with a suitable subject for his abilities in these words: "Having the good fortune to reside for some ten years in a part of India where goitre and cretinism prevail with great intensity, and which is probably one of the purest regions of endemic goitre in the world, I have had exceptional opportunities for carrying out extensive observations and experiments, not only on animals, but on man also." He then went on to describe his researches to date. Needless to say they were thorough and profitable. They were based on the disease as exhibited particularly in the nine villages which are collectively known as Gilgit, where he himself was stationed. He succeeded so well in his research that he was eventually able to give himself and fifteen volunteers the local disease and then to cure it. There's no need to go into the course of these researches, interesting and illuminating though they are. The chief effect, from the point of view of this book, is that they led to McCarrison being relieved of the routine duties of a medical officer and separated as a research worker. In 1913 he was transferred to the Central Institute, Kasauli, with its well-equipped laboratories, to pursue his investigations with all the advantages which well-equipped laboratories scientific colleagues and literature offer.

In 1912, Sir Gowland Hopkins had made public his work on accessory food factors, to which Casimir Funk a year later gave the name of vitamins. McCarrison, reading the work, at once thought that maybe a very important clue to the enigma of goitre lay in a deficiency of vitamins in the food which goitrous people eat. So he began experiments in the Kasauli laboratory designed to give pigeons goitre. He fed them on diets defective in vitamins. Something different happened. The birds did not develop goitre, but some of them, as was expected, developed a disease called polyneuritis. Then it was found that these birds were overrun by specific microbes. Now came the surprise. Some of the healthy birds, the stock of the laboratory who were well fed before any experiments were tried upon them, also harboured these microbes, but they were not ill. The ill-fed birds, on the other hand, were mortally sick. If, however, the healthy birds were fed on the food defective in vitamins, they too got the polyneuritis and died. Good feeding, it seemed, protected the birds against the microbes, but faulty feeding led to a microbic triumph. Thus was McCarrison brought into a field of "deficiency diseases," that is to say diseases due definitely to faulty food. Then came the War, and nothing more was done in research until 1918.

Now, it must be carefully noted that up to this time McCarrison's research work, brilliant though it was, ran on the conventional medical lines. It was concerned with certain diseases and it had the outlook of disease -- such is the cause of Chitral three-day fever, such are the causes of goitre, of cretinism, of pigeon's polyneuritis, and so on. There was no revolution of outlook as yet.

In 1918 McCarrison returned to research under the Research Fund Association of India. He took up the study of deficiency diseases, which had first excited his interest, as a side issue of his work at Kasauli on goitre. In 1921 he published a book entitled Studies in Deficiency Diseases.

Now studies in deficiency diseases clearly entail for contrast the picture, if not the study, of efficient animals. Animals or birds, which are kept for experiments, are kept in ordinary health by hygienic care and sound food. They are, for this reason, known as controls, for it is by comparison of their condition with that of their experimented comrades that the effect of any experimental testing can be observed.

It was when his mind was dwelling on the healthy that the picture of the people of Hunza returned to McCarrison.

When he was Agency Surgeon at Gilgit the Hunza, though sixty miles away, were his official patients. Like other Europeans who met them, he was greatly impressed by their fine physique, but his research-brain was busy on illness, goitre and cretinism in particular, and these illnesses, like most others, the Hunza failed to get. As a people they offered very poor fare to a researching physician.

The ultimate objects of McCarrison's experiments on faultily fed animals were, of course, human. They were to find out what and to what degree diseases in Indian peoples were caused by faulty food. So the memory of the Hunza came back to McCarrison with peculiar vividness. They had no such diseases. They came before McCarrison as a picture of the high attainment man can reach in health and physique.

"My own experience," he wrote in his book, "provides an example of a race unsurpassed in perfection of physique and in freedom from disease in general. I refer to the people of the State of Hunza, situated in the extreme northernmost point of India ... Amongst these people the span of life is extraordinarily long; and such service as I was able to render them during the seven years I spent in their midst was confined chiefly to the treatment of accidental lesions, the removal of senile cataract, plastic operations for granular lids, or the treatment of maladies wholly unconnected with food supply."

There were two diseases of the eyes, cataract in old people and irritation of the inner lining of the lids. If the winter ventilation of the living-rooms in Hunza had been better, even though not so foul as that of most houses in the Hindu-Kush, which, Durand wrote, choked the unfortunate inhabitants, these two diseases might also have been excluded.

In his Mellon Lecture, delivered at Pittsburg, in the U.S.A., in 1922, on "Faulty Food in Relation to Gastro-Intestinal Disorder," this people of the remote Himalayas, whose name he did not give to his American audience, but undoubtedly the Hunza and such allied people as the Punyalis, again presented themselves to him -- almost as control human beings in the vast laboratory of nature, in which civilised people, and especially Americans, were very prone to gastro-intestinal disorders.

"During the period of my association with these people," he said, "I never saw a case of asthenic dyspepsia, of gastric or duodenal ulcer, of appendicitis, of mucous colitis, of cancer ... Among these people the 'abdomen over-sensitive' to nerve impressions, to fatigue, anxiety or cold was unknown. The consciousness of the existence of this part of their anatomy was, as a rule, related solely to the feeling of hunger. Indeed, their buoyant abdominal health has, since my return to the west, provided a remarkable contrast with the dyspeptic and colonic lamentations of our highly civilized communities."

So the picture of a healthy people in 1921-2 strongly coloured McCarrison's thought.

His work on deficiency diseases was, as has been said, to discover their prevalence in India. One aspect of this study had been of peculiar importance to the Government, namely the prevalence of the diseases amongst the native troops during the War. The Government had to be informed what foods their soldiers should take to avoid these diseases, if possible, in future campaigns.

This, fortunately, brought McCarrison into research contact with the fighting races of India -- Punjabis, Dogras, Rajputs, Brahmins, Jats, Ghoorkas, Pathans, and Sikhs. It did not, however, bring any Hunza men again under his observation, for, though there had at one time been the Hunza Rifles, to whose marching powers Bruce testified in our first chapter, they were soon disbanded, and further enlistment of the Hunza in any form prohibited, owing to the strong objection of the Mir to his subjects leaving the country.

Of these fighting men, McCarrison selected the Pathans and Sikhs as men of exceptional physique. He grouped them in his mind and writing henceforth with the Hunza, though he always gave the Hunza the premier place. A brief account of these two fighting peoples is therefore necessary.

Looking at a map of Afghanistan, one sees that its northeastern corner projects a long thin tongue to the east. This forms a northern cap to Chitral and the Gilgit Agency, and its tip touches the Hunza river cleft.

Near Chitral town the eastern border of Afghanistan turns sharply south. Between it and the plains of the Punjab are the North-west Frontier Provinces. This is the country of the Pathans.

The Pathans, therefore, are not the immediate neighbours of the Hunza, nor are they allied to them in race. The Pathans are in part Semitic, their neighbours, the Afghans, being yet more Semitic. The Pathans call themselves Beni-Israel, as descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel.

But they are like the people of Hunza in that they are great hillsmen, though their mountains are not so vast. But in their life as hillsmen-agriculturalists, they form a group with the hillsmen of Eastern Afghanistan, of Chitral and of the Gilgit Agency. The significance of this will be seen in the penultimate chapter upon the Hunza Foods.

There are about a million Pathans. They are a very vigorous people. Here is an account of the famous Afridi Pathans, who live in the neighbourhood of the Khyber Pass: "The Afridi, in appearance, is generally a fine, tall athletic highlander, whose springy step, even in traversing the dirty streets of Peshawur, at once denotes his mountain origin." His appearance immediately prejudices Englishmen in his favour and "there are few brought into contact with him who do not at least begin with an enthusiastic admiration of his manliness."

The Sikhs are not hillsmen, but belong to the river plains of the Punjab. They are a religious, not a racial community. The greater number of them are converted Jats. They are an independent people and admirable agriculturists. "In agriculture," wrote Captain Bingley, The Sikhs (1899) "the Jat-Sikh is pre-eminent. No one can rival him as a landowner or yeoman cultivator. He calls himself a Zamindar, or husbandman, as often as a Jat, and his women and children work with him in the fields. Indeed, it is a common saying in the Punjab that the Jat's baby has a ploughshare for a plaything."

The Sikh is up at dawn and at work in his field, taking a little food left over from the previous day before he leaves his home. About midday, when the sun gets powerful, his women bring him out a substantial meal of coarse ground wheaten chapattis smeared with butter, porridges of grains and pulses, vegetables, and when in season, raw, green gram or sarson. He washes all this down with copious draughts of spiced buttermilk, which he calls lassi. He takes a further substantial meal of similar foods at the end of the day's work. He eats sprouting gram. He eats fruit, though he cannot get the abundance of it which Hunza and Pathans get. He takes meat sparingly, sometimes freely.

He works hard, but he is spared the necessitous exercise which the mountains force upon the Hunza and Pathan. Nevertheless, he likes extra exercise in the way of sports and games. He is fond of running and jumping, lifting and tossing weights, throwing quoits, or wielding huge wooden clubs. When young he is fond of wrestling. But, as Bingley observed, the Jat-Sikh is usually too much occupied with agricultural labour to spare much time for games.

Such were the pick of the fighting men of India whom McCarrison associated with the Hunza in the perfection of their physique. "The Sikhs, the Pathans, and certain Himalaya tribes, than whom it would be difficult to find races, whether in the east or west, of finer physical development, hardihood and powers of endurance," he wrote in an article in The Practitioner in 1925, and then gave the premier place to the Hunza: "These people are unsurpassed by any Indian race in perfection of physique; they are long-lived, vigorous in youth and age, capable of great endurance and enjoy a remarkable freedom from disease in general."

It is clear in this article of 1925 upon "The Relationship of Diet to the Physical Efficiency of Indian Races" that McCarrison's review of the fighting had removed him from the conventional attitude of medical research to an overriding interest in healthy peoples. The question that now presented itself to his mind was: "How is it that man can be such a magnificent physical creature as the Hunza, the Sikh, or the Pathan?"

Health is wholeness. The careful reader of McCarrison's Studies in Deficiency Diseases will note that wholeness lay in the very texture of his mind. The work reveals an intellectual passion for wholeness. Up to that time, as he himself later pointed out in the Lloyd Roberts Lecture, research workers in malnutrition had studied the effects of faulty food upon the nerves, the eyes, the bones, and so on. They fragmented the subject. He was the first "to survey the whole realm of the body by microscopic means." He had to see wholly. One can, indeed, watch this sense of wholeness increasing in his work, until it shaped itself in the whole view of health which will be presented in the last chapter.

So when he had to study the Sikh, Pathan, and others, he seemed to step into what was really quite a new atmosphere of observation. His approach to it was long, but it led him no less surely to a new outlook than did the tracks which brought stout Cortez upon a peak of Darien. McCarrison is now impressed and absorbed by certain people's efficiency, with deficiency only as a background and contrast; by health as a whole thing, and not the medical health, namely, the state which is reached by recovery from a disease. The pyramid of medical art, built up of innumerable studies of an increasing number of diseases, was turned upon its top, and, as a new position, in precarious stability. But McCarrison managed to sustain it, and from the small apex formed by Hunza, Sikh and Pathan physique and health, he proceeded to view the ills of both civilized and uncivilized man.

This was a complete reversal of the accustomed outlook of medical research. We have all become so weary of revolutions in these days that I fear the very phrase, "a revolution of medical thought," may be objectionable. But that is what this was. The old traditional way of thought, namely, from separate diseases or groups of diseases to the recovery of average health, was displaced by looking from the healthiest procurable peoples to the innumerable ailments and diseases of men. It was in the strictest sense of the word a revolution -- a turning round.

The right-about is the unique character of McCarrison's later research work. It is this which separates it from his earlier research work. Of course, one cannot always draw a mark, as one can across a race track and say: "Here is the start." One could collect many instances of tentative approaches to this change of direction in the work of others as well as that of McCarrison. Every revolution has such presages. But in McCarrison's work this conversion was complete, except for an occasional relapse to the subject of goitre. From this time his work starts from these men of unsurpassed physique, and is an enquiry as to what it was that gave them bodily excellence in such full measure.

Chapter 3
The Transference to Experimental Science

IN 1927 McCarrison was appointed Director of Nutrition Research in India under the Research Fund Association. He was not only director, he was, as he told the members of the Royal Commission on Agriculture in India, the only officer engaged on work on nutrition, so he had, as it were, only to direct himself. He was given a laboratory and headquarters at Coonoor, upon the beautiful Nilgiri plateau of the Madras Presidency, and there he directed his work and that of his excellent Indian assistants to the transference of the health of Hunza, Sikh and Pathan to experimental science.

For this work McCarrison chose albino rats. Rats are largely used in nutritional laboratories. They offer many advantages for experimental work on foods. They are omnivorous and they like practically all human food. They are small animals, and therefore cheap to feed; they breed readily in captivity, and their span of life is short, so that their whole life history can be watched.

The first object of McCarrison was to see if the rats in their small sphere of life could be made exceptional in physique and health. He put them in good conditions of air, sunlight, and cleanliness, and he chose as a diet for them one based on those of the three people of excellent physique, the Hunza, the Pathan, and the Sikhs.

He did not, however, give the full diet of any of these peoples in one particular, that of fruit. The Hunza eat fresh and dried fruit abundantly. The Pathans are also large eaters of fruits. The Sikhs, with a climate less suitable to fruit, eat less than the Hunza and Pathan. They cannot be distinguished as great fruit eaters. The rats were given no fruit. The foods they received were those of these peoples of northwestern India minus fruit.

The diet given to the rats was chapattis, or flat bread, made of wholemeal wheat flour, lightly smeared with fresh butter, sprouted pulse, fresh raw carrots and fresh raw cabbage ad libitum, unboiled whole milk, a small ration of meat with bones once a week, and an abundance of water, both for drinking and washing.

In this experiment 1,189 rats were watched from birth to the twenty-seventh month, an age in the rat which corresponds to that of about fifty-five years in man. The rats were killed and carefully examined at all ages up to the twenty-seventh month of life by naked-eye post-mortem examination.

The result was very remarkable. Disease was abolished. This astonishing consequence, however, must be given in McCarrison's own words in the first of two lectures given at the College of Surgeons in 1931.

"During the past two and a quarter years there has been no case of illness in this 'universe' of albino rats, no death from natural causes in the adult stock, and, but for a few accidental deaths, no infantile mortality. Both clinically and at post-mortem examination this stock has been shown to be remarkably free from disease. It may be that some of them have cryptic disease of one kind or another, but, if so, I have failed to find either clinical or macroscopical evidence of it."

By putting the rats on a diet similar to that of certain peoples of Northern India, the rats became "hunzarised," that is they "enjoyed a remarkable freedom from disease," words used by McCarrison in 1925 of the Hunza. They even went further. Except for an occasional tape worm cyst they had no visible disease at all.

Now, the reader might think that a statement that any small "universe" had been freed from disease would have created a profound impression amongst medical men. It did not do so, any more than Lister's announcement of the.first results of antiseptic surgery created any stir. In Lister's days surgeons were so accustomed to pus and blood poisoning, they could not think in terms of a surgery without them. Similarly, medical men are so accustomed to a great number of diseases, they cannot think of any small "universe" without disease. In all revolutions this is the case It is the established profession, or class or aristocracy, which finds it most difficult to think in terms of the change.

This is very noticeable in the professional comments of that time upon McCarrison's lectures. Actually they were very meagre. I only found one reference in the corresponding columns of the leading journals of the few weeks following the lectures. The British Medical Journal itself did, however, devote a leading article. This article treated McCarrison's work purely from the point of view of diseases which diet would prevent or help to prevent. It overlooked the astonishing relation of a remarkable health of human groups being transferred to rats as a perfect health.

"We are passing from a period in which bacteria were held of more surgical importance than diet to one in which a knowledge of diet is to be regarded as more important than a knowledge of bacteria. It is the physician or dietitian who is leading the way. Who would have thought ten years ago that an error in diet would render us liable to such diverse conditions as middle-ear disease, duodenal ulcer, renal calculus or cystitis?" One notes it is liability to diseases, not remarkable health, that is the underlying philosophy.

It is in one sense, nevertheless, fair comment on the lectures themselves. Being prepared especially for surgeons, they were given a surgical setting, and were, therefore, gathered around a number of surgical diseases. It was indeed this familiar setting which caused the unfamiliar significance of the transfer of the remarkable health of certain humans to the rats to be dimmed. This was the light which should have shone forth amidst the familiar murk of human illness. This was the positive meaning, the health or whole meaning of the experiment.

The health was transferred by foods. It was not, as we shall see, transferred by any particular hygienic methods common to the Hunza and the rats. In air, light, etc., there were some resemblances, but in scientific hygiene that of the rats was superior.

First, as regards climate, Coonoor stands 6,000 feet high and Hunza is nearly 8,000 feet high. Coonoor is on a tableland and its climate is equable, the annual range of temperature being from 50 degrees to 80 degrees Fahr. It has not that hard, cold winter of Hunza, in which for two months, having little to do outside, the people spend their time in stuffy rooms. The rats in their roomy cages got plenty of air and sunlight all the year round.

So in the matter of domestic ventilation, the rats were better off then the humans. It was the humans who in winter were wont to live in atmospheres like those of rat-holes.

The Hunza have no fear abroad or at home, but rats are timid when living in airy cages and sunlight and unable to hide. So, to avoid fear and its bad effect on health, the rats were screened from observation and their attendants were trained to attend upon them without alarming them.

Their cages were hosed out once a day, they were daily put in the sun, and they were lined daily with clean straw. The test of cleanliness was that no smell at all could be detected in the room where the cages were kept. It cannot be said that, in spite of different habits, the Hunza houses were more hygienic than this. The balance here lies with the rats.

In natural exercise and in adventure in getting the means of life the rats were restricted. The cages were large enough for the animals to move about in their slow cautious way, with little darts forward, but not for the hot scamper of danger, which calls upon the supremest physical qualities, such as the Hunza show as cragsmen in perilous places. Here the fortune lay with Hunza or rat, according as one values adventure or safety first as a factor of health.

These additional "environmental conditions: cleanliness and comfort," as McCarrison calls them, were not, therefore, common to rat and Hunza. An exact imitation of Hunza or Pathan conditions was not possible in these particulars. They were, therefore, so arranged that they were good and constant. They were kept the same for all the rats in all McCarrison's experiments. Then, if one batch of rats with one diet kept well and another with another diet got ill, the conclusion that the diet in the second case was faulty was obvious. This is a common method of experimental science.

The only thing, therefore, that was common to rat and man in this first experiment was the diet. Here in the great cleft of Hunza was a little oasis of a few thousand beings of almost perfect health, and here in the cages of Coonoor was a little oasis of a thousand and more albino rats also in perfect health. The only link connection between these two otherwise dissimilar sets of living things was a similar kind of diet.

McCarrison now linked up other batches of rats in the same constant conditions of cleanliness and comfort with other peoples of India by their diets. He was in a most enviable position for trying out diets as a whole. The Indian subcontinent provides so many different races and different habits and diets. Hence McCarrison was able to sit in his sanctum at Coonoor and connect up his rats with teeming peoples near and far, and in the mirror of the rats read the dietetic fates of the peoples.

He took the customary diets of the poorer peoples of Bengal and Madras, consisting of rice, pulses, vegetables, condiments, perhaps a little milk. He gave these to rats.

Now, this diet immediately opened the lid of Pandora's box for the rats of Coonoor, and diseases and miseries of many kinds flew forth.

McCarrison made a list of them as found by him in 2,243 rats fed on faulty Indian diets. Here it is as given by him at the Royal College of Surgeons in, necessarily, technical language:

  • "Lung diseases: pneumonia, broncho-pneumonia, bronchiectasis, pyothorax, pleurisy, haemothorax.
  • "Diseases of the nose and accessory sinuses: sinusitis.
  • "Diseases of the ear: otitis media or pus in the middle ear.
  • "Diseases of the upper respiratory passages: adenoid growths.
  • "Diseases of the eye: conjunctivitis, corneal ulceration, keratomalacia, panophthalmitis.
  • "Gastro-intestinal diseases: dilated stomach, gastric ulcer, epithelial new growths in the stomach, cancer of the stomach (in two cases only), duodenitis, enteritis, gastro-intestinal dystrophy, stasis.
  • "Diseases of the urinary tract: pyonephrosis, hydronephrosis, pyelitis, renal calculus, ureteral calculus, dilated ureters, vesical calculus, cystitis, incrusted cystitis.
  • "Diseases of the reproductive system: inflammation of the uterus, ovaritis, death of the foetus in utero, premature birth, uterine haemorrhage, hydrops testis.
  • "Diseases of the skin: loss of hair, dermatitis, abscesses, gangrene of the tail, gangrene of the feet, subcutaneous cedema.
  • "Diseases of the blood: anaemia, a 'pernicious' type of anaemia, Bartonella Muris anaemia.
  • "Diseases of the lymph and other glands: cysts in the submaxillary glands and accessory glands in the base of the tongue, abscesses in the same, and occasionally also in the inguinal glands, enlarged adrenal glands, atrophy of the thymus, enlarged mesenteric, bronchial and other lymph glands.
  • "Diseases of the endocrine system: lymph-adenoid goitre, and, very occasionally, haemorrhage into the pancreas.
  • "Diseases of the nervous system: polyneuritis.
  • "Diseases of the heart: cardiac atrophy, occasionally cardiac hypertrophy, myocarditis, pericarditis, and hydropericardium.
  • "Oedema."

That is the complete list. Freeing it of its technical dressing, in plain English it means that the rats, which were fed on the diets eaten by millions of Indians of Bengal and Madras, got diseases of every organ they possessed, namely eyes, noses, ears, lungs, hearts, stomachs, intestines, kidneys, bladders, reproductive organs, blood, ordinary glands, special glands, and nerves. The liver and the brain, it may be noted, do not occur in the list. The liver was as a fact found to be diseased in conjunction with the diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. The examination of the brain requires a careful opening of the small bony brain case of the rat and adds greatly to the time needed for post-mortem examinations.

This list denotes a pretty comprehensive lot of troubles to be loaded on to simple little creatures like rats as a result of eating faulty Indian diets. In a list given five years later in the Cantor Lectures McCarrison adds a few further diseases, such as general weakness, lassitude, irritability, loss of hair, ulcers, boils, bad teeth, crooked spines, distorted vertebrae and so on.

Considering again the simplicity of the rat and its limitation in things human, the list is, comparatively speaking, almost as complete as the list of contents of a stately text-book of medicine. The diseases of the mind and other very special diseases are omitted. One cannot exactly diagnose neurasthenia, hysteria, and schizophrenia in the rat.

Yet even in rats conditions like to these arise from faulty diet. For example, in later experiment, McCarrison gave a set of rats the diet of the poorer classes of England; white bread, margarine, sweetened tea, boiled vegetables, tinned meats and jams of the cheaper sort. On this diet, not only did the rats grow badly, but they developed what one might call rat-neurasthenia, and more than neurasthenia. "They were nervous and apt to bite their attendants; they lived unhappily together, and by the sixteenth day of the experiment they began to kill and eat the weaker ones amongst them."

We can add neurasthenia and ferocity to weaker brethren to the list.

We are left then at the end of these experiments with two vividly contrasted sets of little animals in this small "universe" of Coonoor -- those on good and those on faulty diet; the healthy and the sickly; and certain mental characters, in contrast, the good tempered and live-and-let-live on the one hand, the bad-tempered and cannibalistic on the other.

And it must be carefully noted that in the case of the healthy rats, the diet was a whole thing. Not only was it their diet from weaning to death, but their mothers were "stock" rats, that is to say, they were being fed on the diet of certain peoples of north-western India, when their offspring were conceived, when they were carrying them, and when they were giving them the breast. The importance of this will be seen in the next chapter.

Next chapter

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