Paperback: 460 pagesPublisher: Cambridge University Press (March 27, 2014)
Reissued here together are two medical works, both published in 1835, by John Grant Malcolmson (1803-44), a British surgeon based in India. His extended essays explore the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of beriberi and rheumatism, conditions which were widespread in Asia at the time. Also describing the contrasting effects that the illnesses had on India's native population and on European colonials, Malcolmson draws on his first-hand experience to speculate on the underlying causes. His analysis of beriberi, forming the larger of the two components here, discusses a disease which had perplexed doctors in the early nineteenth century. Beginning with numbness and spasms in the legs, and eventually rendering the patient completely bedridden, beriberi was frequently fatal, and physicians frequently confused it with other rheumatic disorders. It is now known to be caused by a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1).