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Medicine: An Apple a Day . . .

2 minute read

She read that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” She knew that pectin, the substance in fruit which causes them to jell when stewed, somehow cures diarrhea and dysentery in babies. She discovered that pectin kills bacteria in a test tube.

She could not prove that pectin kills bacteria in the bowels and in that way stops intestinal ailments. But, being everlastingly inquisitive. Dr. Edith Haynes of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, a home economics student who became a bacteriologist in order to learn what happened in her pots, continued to experiment, found that sores kept sopping wet with a water solution of pectin* healed with extraordinary speed.

Last summer Miss Haynes, a reticent, sturdy little woman who keeps house with a cousin in an Indianapolis apartment (and takes her turn at housework), told the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine about her research. Last week her university announced it to the world at large.

The case which made her sure that pectin cures wounds was dramatic enough.

A 5-year-old boy was hit by a truck in Indianapolis. The skin of his ankle was so badly flayed and crushed that surgeons prepared to amputate the foot. But Dr.

Charles Archibald Tompkins, a child specialist who had used pectin for infantile diarrhea, got permission to apply Miss Haynes’s pectin solution to the child’s raw flesh. The child recovered in a few weeks, regaining entire use of his foot. Said Miss Haynes last week: “The pectin solution acts not only as a killer of organisms and bacteria, but stimulates the growth of tissue. It also has been successfully used on varicose ulcers.”

* Made most easily by stewing apples, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, also from beets and turnips.

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