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Beriberi, White Rice, and Vitamin B: A Disease, a Cause, and by Kenneth J. Carpenter

By Kenneth J. Carpenter

During this accomplished account of the historical past and remedy of beriberi, Kenneth wood worker lines the a long time of scientific and chemical learn that solved the puzzle posed through this mysterious affliction. because of the shortcoming of a minute volume of the chemical thiamin, or diet B1 within the vitamin, beriberi is characterised by means of weak point and lack of feeling within the ft and legs, then swelling from fluid retention, and eventually center failure. Western medical professionals operating in Asia after 1870 observed it because the significant illness in local militia and prisons. It used to be at the start attributed to miasms (poisonous vapors from damp soil) or to bacterial infections. In Java, chickens fed by accident on white rice misplaced using their legs. On brown rice, the place the grain nonetheless contained its bran and germ, they remained fit. reviews in Javanese prisons then confirmed beriberi additionally taking place the place white (rather than brown) rice used to be the staple foodstuff. Birds have been used to assay the efficiency of fractions extracted from rice bran and, after twenty years, hugely lively crystals have been got. In one other 10 years their constitution was firm and "thiamin" used to be synthesized. Beriberi is a narrative of contested wisdom and erratic clinical pathways. It bargains a desirable chronicle of the advance of clinical concept, a heritage that encompasses public future health, technological know-how, nutrition, alternate, increasing empires, struggle, and technology.From the preface:This is a scientific detective tale: starting with the research of a ailment that has killed or crippled not less than 1000000 humans, after which following up clues that ranged a lot wider. One consequence used to be the creation of a man-made chemical that we now, the majority of us, eat in small amounts on a daily basis in our nutrients. The detectives had a number of professions and spoke varied languages. Their paintings ranged from learning the well-being of employees in a primitive jungle to the painstaking dissection of person grains of rice less than a microscope. The built-in tale in their struggles and successes, culled from previous volumes in scattered libraries, kinds the topic of this ebook.

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145. The author points out that cereal grains commonly contain 11 to 18 percent water. ” lower in fat than were European diets. Takaki was equally correct in pointing to the low nitrogen content of rice as compared with other cereals, including barley. It is notable that the analytical tables from this period do not state what degree of processing the samples had received before being analyzed. Nor did either Takaki or Van Leent refer to this aspect. But the following chapter will describe how it was to become of major importance in the next period of research.

However, giving ‘acid fruits,’ which I find of great value in cases of scurvy, has no effect in beriberi. . I can suppose the difference to depend on some nice chemical combination. ”7 Another army surgeon, J. Ridley, painted a dramatic picture of his own experience with the disease in Ceylon some ten years later. He had traveled to a small inland garrison, where a fort was being constructed by four hundred native troops under a European comman- Studies in the Colonies 27 der, in order to attend to a serious outbreak of beriberi.

Eijkman, who was then twentyeight, had studied medicine at the University of Amsterdam with a military scholarship. He was given an extra year to work in a physiology laboratory, and was then sent out to serve as an army surgeon in the East Indies. After a short period in Java he had become seriously ill with malaria and been given home leave to recover his strength. While on leave he, too, had decided to go to Berlin to improve his knowledge of bacteriology. Pekelharing was so impressed by Eijkman that he arranged to have him assigned to the commission Studies in the Colonies 33 Fig.

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