Neither vampires nor werewolves

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Berserker (Vendel Era bronze plate)

More than 200 genetic variants of AIP are known, some of which are specific to families, although some strains have proven to be repeated mutations.

Porphyrias have been detected in every continent, but they have some relevance just in the territories where some Norse blood people settled. As example, there are high incidence reports of AIP in areas of Scandinavia and India (former Dutch colonies), of VP in South Africa (from a Boer family).

Put simply , the genetic mutations of porphyria seem to have a restricted territorial origin in the far north of Europe and have spread according to the paths followed by the  Indo / Arya expantion. The spread of disease over the millennia and the high lineage achieved by not a few families carrying porphyria suggest that as long as and where environmental and nutritional factors (as like the opportunity to can live a part without social handicap) were similar to those of pre – modern European age, it is likely that the carriers, especially males , remained relatively asymptomatic ( at least as its acute attacks ).

As a matter of many patients , the disease – when in relative rest – involves considerable reserves of mental and physical energy as a serious burden to carry any serialized activities. Tacitus and other Roman historians report the particularities of certain barbarian tribes of the Baltic, who were able to fight or travel almost without stop for days and then easily die if put to forced labor .

Porphyria has been suggested as an explanation for the origin of vampire and werewolf legends, based upon certain perceived similarities between the condition and the folklore.

In every culture, vampires, before Bram Stoker – a doctor in medicine before to become a successful writer as creator of Dracula,  were just ghoulish spirits with human appearance.
Ghouls in the ‘old’ London too as in “The Vampyre”, a short work written in 1819 by John William Polidori – and first published in the New Monthly Magazine with the false attribution “A Tale by Lord Byron” – and generally viewed as the progenitor of this genre of fantasy fiction.
It is legitimate the doubt that Stoker would blame the Royal Family sticking the Variegate Porphyria symptoms on the fantasy character previously developed.

On werewolves the question is more complex, as some studies have discovered (and in other page published) founded relations in the legends, started by the latin poet Petronio. Not for the symptoms, but also because by Norse there were – notoriously – a tribe of bloody and fiercy warriors named Berserkers that dressed a bear / wolf coat, that can fight for days before to fall exausted and suspected to abuse of some neurotoxic substances in battle (neurotoxic as porphyrin derivates ?) and by their ability in war. It is stated that some ancient as noble European families came from these tribes as that in some branch of these families Porphyrias are well present.

In the Sagas, such as the rare Latin testimonies, a particular mention is made of the ‘fury of the berserkers’ – also called ‘berserksgangr’ and particularly feared by Christians. The rampage began with a flicker, the chattering of teeth and a cold feeling in the body, followed by great agitation while the face swelled and changed color. When the ‘rush’ ended, the berserker appeared exhausted and this condition could last for days. According to the sagas, many of their enemies took advantage to kill them in these moments of weakness.

It is possible that the overlap between ‘bear coated men’ and ‘werevolves’ has been progressively internalized by Christians in the Middle Ages, when whole cities were overwhelmed by Vikings, considered by the clergy as human demons, classified as ‘evil’ and /or ‘bloodthirsty’ in the Lindisfarne Chronicles by Symeon of Durham.

Are we the remains of a lost tribe? Are we a genetic variant of Sapiens? Or just sicks? Surely, not imaginaries vampires or legendary werevolves …

What advantages and disadvantages would we have in the world existed until 300 years ago, with a healthier environment and a lower life expectancy, eating only native foods, no tobacco and little alcohol? Who will be the scientist who will solve our conundrum (and that of some ancient Europeans)?

And – more urgently – we need medical attention to our disease, drugs that block the defective gene or replace the jammed heme chain, rights to be able to continue to have a social, productive and proactive life.

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