The Lazaretto in Tracadie, New Brunswick was one of two places in Canada where people with the dreaded disease of leprosy were kept in isolation for the rest of their lives.  In 1900 or 1901, Dr. A.C. Smith began to treat the residents with Chaulmoogra oil. The oil, pressed from the seeds of various species of Hydnocarpus, was a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for skin problems. It had been introduced to western medicine by a British army surgeon stationed in India. The oil was either injected, which was very painful, or swallowed, which often caused nausea; these effects were so severe that some patients could not stand frequent treatments.
The Lazaretto in Tracadie, New Brunswick was one of two places in Canada where people with the dreaded disease of leprosy were kept in isolation for the rest of their lives. 

In 1900 or 1901, Dr. A.C. Smith began to treat the residents with Chaulmoogra oil. The oil, pressed from the seeds of various species of Hydnocarpus, was a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for skin problems. It had been introduced to western medicine by a British army surgeon stationed in India.

The oil was either injected, which was very painful, or swallowed, which often caused nausea; these effects were so severe that some patients could not stand frequent treatments.


© 2005, Coalition of Canadian Healthcare Museums and Archives

Residents of the Lazaretto

Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

P 20-281
© Provincial Archives of New Brunswick


We don't know the outcome of individual cases, but on October 31, 1901, Dr. Smith reported: "The general health improved; ulcers on the limbs healed rapidly, tubercles disappeared, and swollen faces and hands became reduced to a nearly normal condition. In the cases of those who used the remedies only intermittingly, but little improvement was noticeable."

Chaulmoogra oil seemed to reduce symptoms or slow the progress of leprosy, especially for people in the early stages of the disease. It remained the standard treatment until the 1940s, when it was superseded by new drugs.

We don't know the outcome of individual cases, but on October 31, 1901, Dr. Smith reported: "The general health improved; ulcers on the limbs healed rapidly, tubercles disappeared, and swollen faces and hands became reduced to a nearly normal condition. In the cases of those who used the remedies only intermittingly, but little improvement was noticeable."

Chaulmoogra oil seemed to reduce symptoms or slow the progress of leprosy, especially for people in the early stages of the disease. It remained the standard treatment until the 1940s, when it was superseded by new drugs.


© 2005, Coalition of Canadian Healthcare Museums and Archives

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • recall how residents of Lazaretto were healed by traditional medicine;
  • indicate if an illness like the one that affected residents of Lazaretto could happen again today.

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