Beri-Beri has engaged the attention, at one time or
another, of most workers in the field of tropical medicine.
In the past, interest centred round the problem of the
aetiology of the condition. During recent years, research.
has been concerned with the biological significance, the
chemical structure, and the methods of estimation of vitamin
B1 and other essential food factors.
My personal interest in beri-beri has been, to a
great extent, clinical. The pages which follow have been
devoted mainly to a description of the history, the evolution
of our modern theories regarding the action of vitamin B₁,
a survey of the condition itself with remarks chiefly directed'
to the symptomatology, diagnosis, and treatment, and to
recommendations for the future eradication of the disease.
The observations I have recorded have been taken
from five years of medical practice in Singapore, during
which time I was fortunate enough to have entire control of
an "outbreak" of beri-beri , affecting ratings of the Straits
Settlements Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Many copious
notes and photographs were taken at the time - these were
unavoidably lost, and lie at the bottom of Banka Strait.
As a result, the author has been forced to draw from memory
for his subject matter.
Personal observations and conclusions are contrasted
with the opinions expressed in the more important articles
sifted from the multitudinous array of literature. An
attempt has been made to balance them; apparent differences
have been recorded, and where possible reconciled.
There is possibly no other subject where
so many contradictory statements have been made; nevertheless
the whole is a most inspiring story, where the ultimate
destination has been reached only by long, laborious