Eur Neurol 2006;55:57–58

A Norse Contribution to the History of Neurological Diseases

Holmøy T.
Department of Neurology, Ullevål University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
email Corresponding Author

 goto top of outline Key Words

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Medical history
  • Norse saga

 goto top of outline Abstract

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is prevalent in areas with many inhabitants of Scandinavian descent, and a ‘Viking gene’ hypothesis has been suggested for the dissemination of the disease. It is therefore relevant to search Norse sagas for descriptions of clinical pictures which could have been MS. The saga of Bishop Thorlak describes a woman named Halldora, who suffered from transient paresis between 1193 and 1198. The diagnosis is uncertain, but the story shows that symptoms associated with MS were known in Iceland at the end of the 11th century.

Copyright © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

 goto top of outline References
  1. Pearce JM: Historical descriptions of multiple sclerosis. Eur Neurol 2005;54:49–53.
  2. Medaer R: Does the history of multiple sclerosis go back as far as the 14th century? Acta Neurol Scand 1979;60:189–192.
  3. Poser CM: Viking voyages: the origin of multiple sclerosis? An essay in medical history. Acta Neurol Scand Suppl 1995;161:11–22.
  4. Anonymous: Thorlaks Saga; in Biskupa Sogur. Editiones Arna Magnaenae C, ch. 120, series A, vol 13.2. Copenhagen, Jon Helgason, 1978.
  5. Anonymous: Den gamle jærtegnsbok om Biskop Thorlak. Odense, Odense University Press, 1984, pp 54–55.
  6. Anonymous: Pauls Saga; in Biskupa Sogur. Copenhagen, Icelandic Literary Society, 1858, pp 127–148.
  7. Ziegler J: Practitioners and saints: medical men in canonization processes in the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. Soc Hist Med 1999;12:191–225.

 goto top of outline Author Contacts

Trygve Holmøy
Department of Neurology
Ullevål University Hospital
NO–0047 Oslo (Norway)
Tel. +47 22 119 101, Fax +47 23 073 510, E-Mail

 goto top of outline Article Information

Received: September 21, 2005
Accepted: November 29, 2005
Published online: February 9, 2006
Number of Print Pages : 2
Number of Figures : 0, Number of Tables : 0, Number of References : 7

 goto top of outline Publication Details

European Neurology

Vol. 55, No. 1, Year 2006 (Cover Date: February 2006)

Journal Editor: Bogousslavsky, J. (Lausanne)
ISSN: 0014–3022 (print), 1421–9913 (Online)

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