Darwin’s illness identified by Australian scientist

By | December 15, 2009

British scientist Charles Darwin's episodes of sickness were at times completely disabling.  An Australian scientist believes he has identified what caused Charles Darwin’s long-standing illness.

Associate Prof. John Hayman from the University of Melbourne’s anatomy department believes Darwin probably had cyclical vomiting syndrome, which he inherited from his mother.

His findings appear in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal.

“People with cyclical vomiting syndrome experience abdominal, circulatory, and cerebral symptoms, including headaches and anxiety,” writes Hayward.

For most of his adult life, Darwin suffered from very long bouts of seasickness that would continue after his voyages.

Symptoms included nausea, vomiting, headaches, stomach pain, “inordinate flatulence” and skin problems, including eczema and boils.

“The episodes of sickness were at times completely disabling and Darwin was confined to his sofa in a constant nauseated state for days — even weeks — at a time,” writes Hayman.

Excitement or stress — even from pleasurable events, such as seeing old friends — would bring on the illness.

Darwin tried many different treatments but none of them had a lasting effect.

…”His personal inherited genetic variation made him substantially ‘less fit,’ but his survival prospects were greatly increased by his driving intellect, loyal colleagues, a devoted wife, family and household servants and his personal wealth.”

via CBC News – Health – Darwin had inherited illness: professor.

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