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Darwin's Illness$
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Ralph Colp Jr.

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032313

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032313.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 04 June 2020

The Possibility of Adrenal Disease

The Possibility of Adrenal Disease

(p.166) 27 The Possibility of Adrenal Disease
Darwin's Illness

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

University Press of Florida

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

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