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February 5, 1938

EFFECTS OF VITAMIN B (B1) THERAPY ON THE POLYNEURITIS OF ALCOHOL ADDICTS

Author Affiliations

NEW YORK

From the departments of Medicine and Psychiatry, New York University College of Medicine, and the Psychiatric Medical Service of the Third (New York University) Medical Division, Bellevue Hospital.

JAMA. 1938;110(6):414-419. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790060006002
Abstract

Prior to the recognition of the rôle played by vitamins, polyneuritis in the alcohol addict was usually attributed to the direct toxic action of alcohol. Shattuck,1 Minot2 and Wechsler3 suggested that avitaminosis probably played an important rôle in the production of this type of polyneuritis. Several investigators then specifically indicted vitamin B. This opinion was based primarily on the following observations: first, that patients with "alcoholic" polyneuritis had as a rule an inadequate food intake; second, that "alcoholic" polyneuritis and beriberi showed similar clinical and pathologic manifestations.4 In addition it was observed that these subjects improved when given diets rich in vitamin B and that when such diets were supplemented by vitamin B concentrates improvement occurred even while the subjects were given from a pint to a quart of whisky daily.5

Recent fundamental contributions have made possible a more direct approach to the study of

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