Colonel Adair, Chief Surgeon in the Philippines, says:
"Beri-beri does not attack the army to any great extent, due largely to better conditions under which soldiers live as to shelter and more especially food. On its appearance among natives, an increase in diet, especially in nitrogenous principles, has been attended with good results".
* Journal, American Medical Association, December 9, 1905.
* La Caduce, November 5, 1904.
*¡ Journal of Tropical Medicine, September 15, 1904.
§ New York Medical Record, November 3, 1906.
Doctor Laurent is said to have thus cured an epidemic in the Polo-Condere prison in Tonquin. Japan nearly wiped it out of their navy by feeding sailors with nitrogen, and by abandoning the diet to which some people at home want us to return in the tropics. There is much evidence that there is also a relationship between beri-beri and scurvy. An epidemic of the former in the Manila prison was checked by the liberal use of fresh vegetables under the direction of Dr. L. H. Fales, and it has even been suggested that scurvy itself is a result of nitrogen starvation as seen among the besieged Russians in Port Arthur.
Dr. Bailey K. Ashford, United States Army, has shown that the terrible tropical anaemi in Porto Rico is ankylostomiasis, and that poor food and starvation are the undoubted reasons for putting these cases into a condition where they are easily infected. This same infection of the underfed is found to be very common in Egypt and the Orient. Dr. Dhuleep Azend, a Hindu of the faculty of Calcutta University, one of the most profound of all the native scholars, "gives as one of the causes of the continuance of plague, the physical weakness of the people from insufficient food."* Dr. Patrick Manson* states that many inhabitants of the tropics are in a state of chronic starvation. Many other physicians have called attention to the necessity of liberal nitrogen diet in the tropics instead of the old absurd ideas as to starvation like a native. Dr. P. R. Egan, United States Army,*¡ shows how healthy are the better class of Porto Ricans who eat plenty of meat, including pork, and how weak and anemic are those eating the diet our physiologists formerly approved - fruits and a trifle of starch and fish. The Agricultural Department investigated the dietaries of our Southern negro and found a marked deficiency of nitrogen, a fact which may account for the increasing degeneration among these people.
Dr. Jas. Cantlie § says that it is the lack of fresh meat which is a prominent cause of that "running down" and neurasthenia he finds so common among whites in the tropics, and similar testimony is given by Dr. Louis H. Fales* The Dominican order in England was compelled to abandon vegetarianism and return to meats, as they were being damaged by nitrogen starvation. Other experiments innumerable have been tried in the way of reducing nitrogen, but have failed. Healthy "vegetarians" invariably belong to the sect which consumes milk, eggs, wheat, nuts, etc., containing sufficient nitrogen.
* New York Medical Journal, September 20, 1902. * "Tropical Diseases," p. 586. *¡ New York Medical Journal, January 6, 1900. § Journal of Tropical Medicine, April 15, 1903.
The lower animals show evidence of nitrogen starvation in the tropics. I once experimented with some ants in my house in the Philippines to determine whether they, too, were nitrogen hungry. These animals swarm all over the islands, and must be put to a severe struggle for existence. I first fed them on lumps of sugar, potatoes, etc., and they attacked these in their usual way, carrying off bits to the store house, but in the whole day did not make much impression on the masses of food. A day or two later I put a part of a fresh lizard's carcass near the sugar, and as soon as they found it, the excitement was wonderful. They left the sugar and attacked the animal food with indescribable fury, and within three hours were carrying away- the last remnant of the bones. Even the chickens in the Philippines are nitrogen bankrupts. They have plenty of starch from rice to turn into fat, so that the yolk of the eggs is as fatty as that in other parts of the world, but the hen has not enough nitrogen from the few bugs and worms it eats to make good albumen - the white of the egg. Cooks complain that the "whites" of the eggs are often so watery that they cannot be beaten up into the proper stiffness for fancy dishes. Chinese eggs are somewhat better, though far inferior to the eggs from America, where the hens get plenty of nitrogen from wheat and corn.