The Possibility of Adrenal Disease

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

in Darwin's Illness

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780813032313
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039237 | DOI:
The Possibility of Adrenal Disease

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Betsy King has suggested that Charles Darwin was ill because of a diminished function of the cortex of his adrenal gland, caused by his 1834 Chilean fever and its treatment with calomel and manifested by symptoms of hypoadrenalism, including hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Several serious medical objections to this diagnosis are presented. The role of hypoglycemia in his illness would never have been known because the occurrence of low blood sugar can be diagnosed only by chemical tests that were not available in Victorian times.

Keywords: Charles Darwin; Betsy King; adrenal gland; Chilean fever; calomel; hypoadrenalism; hypoglycemia

Chapter.  389 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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