Halloween marks the day of all spooky things like ghosts, zombies, witches, and vampires. All these myths originate from folklore passed down the generations. But do you know there's a scientific explanation for why the vampire myth might have been created?
To start off the topic, let's list what characteristic properties we've read and seen in pop culture (Twilight, Dracula, etc) that describe vampires.
Sunlight is harmful to them
They have pale and papery skin
Blood spots near the mouth
An urge to drink blood
In a time when there are no scientific explanations or postulates to explain a phenomenon, it becomes a myth. Some medical conditions that cannot be pinpointed or explained can become the originators of a myth. The vampire myth is also thought to be a byproduct of such unexplained behavior.
Blood transports oxygen to our tissues via the use of hemoglobin in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is composed of globin chains and a heme group. Heme is a heterocyclic compound containing nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen. In the center of the ring resides an iron atom.
Heme can be produced in the body from glycine (amino acid) and succinic acid. Through many reactions and steps, the end product is the heme ring. When any of these steps don't work due to enzyme activity or lack of the enzyme, the person suffers from porphyria. This class of disease has been said to be the originator behind the myth of vampires.
People who suffer from porphyria have sensitive skin, i.e. their skin can have severe reactions to sun rays. This happens due to the build-up of uroporphyrinogen lll in the body. When this is bombarded by UV light of the sun it makes reactive oxygen species causing harm to the skin and forming lesions over it.
Patients with porphyria have reddish lips and gums. This happens since there is a build-up of uroporphyrinogen lll in the blood. This can impart and provide colour to the area near the mouth, giving the perception of a blood-drinking entity.
Porphyria is an inherited disease and can be found in a family. This property has given birth to the famous idea of vampire families.
The deletion of the enzyme uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase causes acute intermittent porphyria which is also known as the vampire porphyria. The unexplained behaviour of people with porphyria in an age with no medical science might have originated the supernatural idea of vampires.
Another disease that is also postulated as the origin of this myth is pellagra or vitamin B3 deficiency. Deficiency of niacin can cause dermatitis,
However, to clarify, this article in any capacity doesn't compare a medical condition with a mythical monster creature. This has only been postulated by scientists as a way to decipher the myth behind vampires. Have a witchy and vampire-y Halloween!!