Beriberi historical perspective

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Beriberi Microchapters


Patient Information


Historical Perspective




Differentiating Beriberi from other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors


Natural History, Complications and Prognosis


Diagnostic Study of Choice

History and Symptoms

Physical Examination

Laboratory Findings



Echocardiography and Ultrasound

CT scan


Other Imaging Findings

Other Diagnostic Studies


Medical Therapy


Primary Prevention

Secondary Prevention

Cost-Effectiveness of Therapy

Future or Investigational Therapies

Case Studies

Case #1

Beriberi historical perspective On the Web

Most recent articles

Most cited articles

Review articles

CME Programs

Powerpoint slides


American Roentgen Ray Society Images of Beriberi historical perspective

All Images
Echo & Ultrasound
CT Images

Ongoing Trials at Clinical

US National Guidelines Clearinghouse

NICE Guidance

FDA on Beriberi historical perspective

CDC on Beriberi historical perspective

Beriberi historical perspective in the news

Blogs on Beriberi historical perspective

Directions to Hospitals Treating Beriberi

Risk calculators and risk factors for Beriberi historical perspective

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Abdelrahman Ibrahim Abushouk, MD[2]


The word "Beriberi" is derived from the Sinhalese language, meaning "I cannot, I cannot". It used to be quite common, especially in East Asia in the 19th century. Two scientists (Dr Christiaan eijkman and Sir Frederick Hopkins) attributed beriberi to thiamine deficiency and were awarded the Nobel prize in 1929.

Historical Perspective

  • The origin of the word is from a Sinhalese phrase meaning "I cannot, I cannot", the word being doubled for emphasis.
  • It is a disease that has killed probably close to a million people worldwide.
  • References to this disease can be found in Chinese medical texts dating as far back as 2697 BC.
  • In the 19th century it was the “national disease” of Japan.
  • It first attracted the attention of Western scientists in the 1880s, when Dutch military personnel experienced an epidemic of the disease while operating in Sumatra.
  • Its association with the consumption of highly polished rice was noted in the first decade of the twentieth century.
  • It took some 50 years and lifetimes of dedication by dozens of scientists from many different fields and of various nationalities before the mysteries of beriberi were unraveled.
  • Christiaan Eijkman, a Dutch physician and pathologist first demonstrated that beriberi is caused by poor diet led to the discovery of vitamins. Together with Sir Frederick Hopkins, he was awarded the 1929 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for the discovery, but the ability to produce a synthetic vitamin on a commercial scale has been by no means the end of the story.[1]


  1. Arnold D (2010). "British India and the "beriberi problem", 1798-1942". Med Hist. 54 (3): 295–314. doi:10.1017/s0025727300004622. PMC 2889456. PMID 20592882.

Template:WikiDoc Sources