For decades, scholars have debated what medical diagnosis would have been given to Charles Darwin if he had been patient during our current century.
The “Father of Evolution” lived between the years 1809-1882, but suffered miserably during most of his adult life.
According to historians, his symptoms consisted of:
- Severe headaches
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of Breath
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal distension and gas
- Joint pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Mouth ulcers
- Poor resistance to infections
So throughout the years, it’s been postulated that Darwin suffered from Lupus, Chagas, inflammatory bowel disease, hypochondria, food intolerance or a poisoning of some sort. In 2004, Campell et al wrote, “Darwin’s disease is consistent with gut and systemic symptoms arising from inherited hypolactasia, with a gut infection, such as Chagas’ disease.”
This week, however, researchers Erwin Kompanje and Jelle Reumer from Erasmus University Rotterdam reveal Lyme disease as their number one suspect.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, and transmitted by a tick bite. It can cause symptoms including fatigue, rash, joint pain, cardiac disease and neurological issues.
Darwin’s work caused him to travel extensively and study authors write, “exposure to a tick carrying Borrelia in Great Britain is much more plausible than exposure to Chagas disease during his travel in South America.”
When I look at the above symptoms I think of Lyme disease but also Vitamin B12 deficiency, mercury poisoning and hyperthyroid.
It’s also plausible that Darwin suffered from a variety of ailments, but we’re talking about Darwin. Maybe he had a disease that no one has ever been able to diagnose hence lending even more to science than he already has. For now, I’m calling his symptoms, Darwin Disease.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.