Vampires: A Medical Explanation


It’s that time of the term. Feels like the dog days of summer: crunching and pushing through. As typical, students are resisting, but once they stop resisting, they’ll breakthrough! And that’s what we’re all looking forward to.

I promised a look on Vampires for Halloween. I know most of you are aware of Dracula and the Twilight series. Legends go all the way back to the 18th Century. Many stories come from people not understanding something going on. It’s quite possible they were explaining a medical illness some people were suffering from. Stories get started, people add on to it, and it becomes to have a life of its own.

The illness that people think these vampire stories got started with is porphyria. It’s a group of blood disorders where the red blood cell can’t carry oxygen effectively. It has to do with the protein heme. Because of that, patients become pale and sensitive to light. Large amounts of normal people’s blood could allow heme to go into the vampires bloodstream to remedy the disorder temporarily. Despite controversy, his papers have continued to fuel the search for medical explanations.

Besides porphyra, which also explains how garlic would exacerbate the symptoms of a sufferer, other medical explanations for Vampirism include:

  • Xeroderma pigmentosum – photosensitivity to light, hearling loss
  • Anemia – pale complexion, difficulty eating food
  • Catalepsy – nervous system disorder causing muscle rigidity and decreased sensitivity to pain and heat. Breathing, pulse, bodily functions slow down, so they could be mistaken for being “dead.”

Enjoy your Halloween!




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