An interesting study from hair of King George III reveals that he may have been consuming Arsenic and this lead to his unusually severe and prolonged bouts of madness.
Lancet has published this report this week and at last has been able to throw light on the reason for the madness of the famous English King George III. The study reports to have found high concentrations of arsenic in a sample of King George III's hair and this may have been the main contributory factor.
Prof. Martin Warren and colleagues investigated exposure of arsenic in a sample of the King's hair. Professor Warren said: "The presence of arsenic in a sample of the King's hair provides a plausible explanation for the length and severity of his attacks of illness; and contamination of his antimonial medications is the probable source of the arsenic. We propose that exposure to arsenic would exacerbate attacks of porphyria in a genetically predisposed individual.
King George III was diagnosed to have suffered from Porphyria- a genetic defect leading to the faulty synthesis of a protein. However during his regime he suffered from five major episodes of prolonged and profound mental derangement. The King's illness was originally thought to be a psychiatric disorder. However, there is little information available to account for the unusual persistence, severity, and late onset of attacks.
When the researchers looked at the Royal physician's medical notes to try and identify the source of the arsenic; they found that the principal compound administered to the King during his illness was emetic tartar. Emetic tartar contains a substance called antimony, which can be contaminated with arsenic. The authors believe that the King's medication was the source of the arsenic found in the hair sample.
News Extract - Newswise.
Original Source: Lancet