Saturday, August 1, 2009

Questioning the Existence of Genetic Diseases Among Melungeons

I'm sure most folks visiting this blog have heard some say there are Melungeon diseases and other physical characteristics such as six fingers and toes, Anatolian knot, etc. Some have probably visited a well known website, which despite the owner's denial, gives every appearance of advocating the existence of Melungeon diseases.

Let us first examine who the Melungeons were and then try to look at this from a genealogical and scientific viewpoint.

The oldest known record, 1848, which identifies the Melungeons ethnic mixture and the location where they lived:

"You must know that within ten miles of this owl's nest, there is a watering-place, and Mineral Springs in Vardy, Hancock County, Tennessee known hereabouts as 'black-water springs.' It is situated in a narrow gorge, scarcely half a mile wide, between Powell's Mountain and the Copper Ridge, and is, as you may Suppose, almost inaccessible. Now this gorge and the tops and sides of the adjoining mountains are inhabited by a singular species of the human animal called MELUNGENS. We stopped at 'Old Vardy's, the hostelries of the vicinage. Old Vardy is the 'chief cook and bottle-washer' of the Melungens, and is really a very clever fellow: but his hotel savors strongly of that peculiar perfume that one may find in the sleeping-rooms of our Negro servants.

The Melungeons carefully preserved the Legend of their history." This "Legend" according to the writer in Littell’s Living age, included an original descent from Portuguese adventures who later mixed with Indians,Negroes, and whites to form the present race.(Littell's Living Age, March, 1849 The Melungens, This was reprinted from the Knoxville Register September 6, 1848, quoting from the Louisville Examiner. This issue of the Knoxville Register has not been located.)

There appears to be no reason for this writer to have invented this detail, "The Melungeons carefully preserved the 'Legend of their history'." This "Legend" according to the writer, included an original descent from Portuguese adventures and later intermarriages with Indians, Negroes, and whites. The visit to Vardy in 1848 was revisited to his grand-children about 50 years later. " on Friday July 2, 1897.C.H. Humble returned to the same place as the writer in Littell’s Living age. This visit may have been to a mission house, because a New Presbyterian Church was completed in 1899.

"On Friday forenoon, July 2, (1897) the writer and Rev. Joseph Hamilton, of Parkersburg, West Virginia, started in a hack from Cumberland Gap, Tennessee for Beatty Collins, chief of the Melungeons, in Blackwater."

Using Vardy Collins as a benchmark for Melungeon identity: Vardemon Collins was born sometime around 1767 in Botetourt, County, Virginia, in an area now in Grayson County. He was known in the community as Vardy, but most legal documents, including his first grant in Hawkins County, used his given first name. On one bond he was called Vardy Collins, but signed his name Vardimon Collins, named from his grand-father John Vardiman.

A list of Tithables for 1771 in Botetourt County, Virginia, along the New River:

Capt. William Herbert’s Company

Charles Collins 1
John Collins 4
Samuel Collins 2
John Vardeman 1
(Mary B. Kegley, New River Tithables, 1972 (2nd print, 1973)

Since JOHN COLLINS was married to a daughter of JOHN VARDEMAN it is likely that VARDEMAN COLLINS was their son. Other evidence suggests that SAMUEL COLLINS was the oldest member of this group. Perhaps he was the father of CHARLES and JOHN. (C Goyne)

Vardiman "Vardy" Collins appears on a 1790 tax list of Wilkes County, North Carolina with two males and four females in his family. This area became Ashe County in 1799 and Vardy Collins land fell in the new county. Vadery (Vardy) and his family is listed on the 1800 census of Ashe County, North Carolina, as "6 free colored." Vardy Collins also shows up in Wilkes County court records, but no records have been found in this area which use the term "Melungeon." Vardy moved from Ashe County, North Carolina to the Blackwater area of Hawkins County in the early 1800s along with several others. According to attorney Lewis M. Jarvis they were "derisively dubbed" with the name "Melungeon" by their white neighbors who lived here among them. Most likely between 1800 and 1813.

It has been at least 200 years since these dark skin settlers were derisively dubbed with the name Melungeon, or at least seven generations, which adds 128 grand-parents to each Melungeon family. These families migrated to all parts of the United States, thus the so-called diseases would not be confined to the Appalachian area.

My question is how could any logical thinking person come up with Melungeon diseases from the makeup of the original Melungeons?. We know Portugal was made up of several ethnic groups, then add the Native American, the African, plus the white settlers. Another question is, what combination of these groups caused them to be labeled fpc, thus Melungeons? Most likely it would be a combination of the African and Native American. Then add all our other parents up to the present generation. Some diseases may be inherted from a certain ancestor, (founder effect) but this would be a medical scientific conclusion. This founder effect in this group has not been observed by any scientific study. And would this rare occurrence have happened 5 times with 5 different rare diseases?

One Melungeon writer claims she has a Mediterranean disease that would cause a reader to infer Melungeons are prone to, but lists no study for a connection between Melungeons and these Mediterranean diseases; such as Familial Mediterranean Fever, Behçet's syndrome, Thalassemia, Sarcoidosis and Macho-Joseph Disease. And the fact she adds no genealogy to prove a Melungeon connection puts this claim on shaky ground.

Additionally, the so-called Melungeon physical traits such as the Anatolian Knot and extra fingers and toes which have not been observed in any known Melungeon descendants are pure nonsense and deserve no credence at all.

Jack Goins

None of these Diseases.......

by Janet Crain

On the Internet you are likely to encounter sites suggesting that Melungeon people or their descendants are prone to several serious diseases. There is no proof of this theory other than anecdotal recounting of personal experiences. In other words, NO PROOF!!!!

This has led to a completely false characterations of Melungeons as sickly and frail in fiction and even in non fiction books.

On the contrary these people lived the harsh life of pioneers and still lived to advanced ages. There is no proof that Melungeons even have Mediterranean ancestry, so it seems foolish to include them as subject to acquiring any of these Mediterranean diseases. Could a person of Melungeon descent acquire one of these diseases? Of course, but it would not have anything to do with their Melungeon ancestry.

One contributing factor to this theory is the myth of Drake's Turks which has now been exposed as a vast exaggeration. No large group has been proven to have been dropped off on Roanoke or anywhere else on the Eastern Seaboard. Conditions existing there at the time render the survival chances of any such people nil.

  • Behçet's SYNDROME

Machado-Joseph Disease has been removed

The Melungeon Historical Society, MHS does not endorse the theory of Melungeon people being any more prone to any diseases than the general populations.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice or diagnosis. Consult
a medical health professional if you think you might be suffering from a
medical condition.

© History Chasers

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110 Year Old Melungeon Man Interviewed

Melungeons Ways Are Passing

News-Sentinel Staff Writer
Sneedville, Tenn

By Willard Yarbrough,
April 26, 1972

Spring air was nippy along Blackwater Creek in Vardy Valley. So chilly, in fact, that Howard Mullins lifted his hands with palms exposed to coal fed flames of the open fire. Such delicate hands, calloused from field work and 110 winters spent in isolated hill country where necessities of life long since have become luxuries to a mysterious people to whom Mullins belongs. He is one of the last of the Melungeons, oldest of them all in Hancock County, which has been home to the Melungeons for 200 years.

Those left in Snake Hollow, Blackwater, Vardy and Mulberry - are few in number, Most have left the hills for jobs in cities far and near. And time is catching up with those remaining. In 1931 there were 40 Melungeon families living on Newman's Ridge above their ancestral home. Today, only two families remain on the steep ridges. Genealogist William P. Grohse Sr., who lives near Mullins, estimates there may be under 200 families left in the country.

Cont. here:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Looking for medical advice in all the wrong places....

Unfortunately, the following is true of many sources on the Internet, not just the blogs on HuffPo.

The Huffington Post is crazy about your health
Why bogus treatments and crackpot medical theories dominate "The Internet Newspaper"

By Rahul K. Parikh, M.D.

July 30, 2009 | This spring, during the swine flu outbreak, I was searching the Web for news when a blog post on the Huffington Post caught my eye. Titled "Swine Flu: Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones," its author, Kim Evans, offered a unique prescription for swine flu, one she believed could "save your life": deep-cleansing enemas.

"Most estimates are that the average person has ten or more pounds of stored waste just in their colon," Evans wrote. "In any case, many people have found that disease disappears when this waste is gone, and that when the body is clean it's much more difficult for new problems, like viruses, to take hold in the first place. And it's my understanding that many people who took regular enemas instead of vaccines during the 1918 pandemic made it out on the other side as well."

This is not exactly first-line advice on influenza prevention. There's no proof that a cleansing program will prevent influenza. In fact, Evans' notion contradicts basic germ theory. Influenza infection is transmitted through respiratory channels and not, like gastrointestinal infections, through contact with fecal matter. And even if people in 1918 did try to protect themselves with enemas -- Evans doesn't cite any historical record -- there's no evidence the practice saved anybody's life. Note to Evans: People did not have a choice between enemas and vaccines in 1918. The first influenza vaccine was developed in the 1940s.

The Huffington Post is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on the Internet these days. It operates mostly as a news aggregation site (it has featured Salon stories) and throws open its doors to a wide range of bloggers, who cover everything from politics to entertainment. "When it comes to health and wellness issues, our goal is to provide a diverse forum for a reasoned discussion of issues of interest and importance to our readers," Arianna Huffington, the site's namesake founder, author, socialite and pundit, told me.

I would like to believe her. But when it comes to health and wellness, that diverse forum seems defined mostly by bloggers who are friends of Huffington or those who mirror her own advocacy of alternative medicine, described in her books and in many magazine profiles of her. Among others, the site has given a forum to Oprah Winfrey's women's health guru, Christiane Northrup, who believes women develop thyroid disease due to an inability to assert themselves; Deepak Chopra, who mashes up medicine and religion into self-help books and PBS infomercials; and countless others pitching cures that range from herbs to blood electrification to ozonated water to energy scans.

As a physician, I am not necessarily opposed to alternative health treatments. But I do want to be responsible and certain that what I prescribe to patients is safe and effective and not a waste of their time and money. A recent Associated Press

investigation stated the federal government has spent $2.5 billion of our tax dollars to determine whether alternative health remedies -- including ones promoted on the Huffington Post -- work. It found next to none of them do. The site also regularly grants space to proponents of the thoroughly disproven conspiracy that childhood vaccines have caused autism. In short, the Huffington Post is hardly a site that promotes "a reasoned discussion," in its founder's words, of health and medicine.

Practically since its inception in 2005, the Post's health coverage has been the subject of scrutiny and criticism from physicians and medical experts. Steve Novella and David Gorski, both academic physicians, who run the blog Science-Based Medicine, have been at the forefront of the opprobrium. In a post this April, Novella declared that Huffington Post readers were being "fed demonstrable medical falsehoods and misinformation."

In May, Huffington hired Patricia Fitzgerald, who had previously blogged on the site, to serve as Wellness editor. In Huffington's words, Fitzgerald will add "another layer to the vetting process for posts dealing with medical, health, and nutritional advice." Fitzgerald, an acupuncturist with a master's degree in traditional Chinese medicine and a doctorate in homeopathic medicine, is the author of "The Detox Solution: The Missing Link to Radiant Health, Abundant Energy, Ideal Weight, and Peace of Mind." Her posts had praised actress Jenny McCarthy for healing her son's autism with "biomedical intervention," a menu of "detoxification, and removal of interfering factors, such as yeast, food allergies, viruses, bacteria, and heavy metals," restrictive diets, expensive nutritional supplements and chelation therapy -- all unproven.

Fitzgerald told me her mission "is to assist in providing interesting, informative and well-written pieces that support and inspire people looking to live healthier lives." She added, "I spend a considerable amount of time helping medical professionals used to writing for other medical professionals develop a style more accessible to a general audience. Every blog post on HuffPost is reviewed by our editorial team. I vet and offer input on some posts dealing with health advice."

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Colchicine is contraindicated for many conditions

Some times when a medicine is described as too good to be true, that is just what it is. Although Colchinine helps some conditions, it can be very dangerous and its use is not to be advocated by non-professionals. JC

Colchicine as medicine

In the United States colchicine by itself is not FDA approved, however it is still prescribed for the treatment of gout and also for familial Mediterranean fever,[3] secondary amyloidosis(AA), and scleroderma. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory agent for long-term treatment of Behçet's disease.

The Australian biotechnology company Giaconda has developed a combination therapy to treat constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome which combines colchicine with the anti-inflammatory drug olsalazine.

The British drug development company Angiogene is developing a prodrug of colchicine, ZD6126[4] (also known as ANG453) as a treatment for cancer.

Colchicine has a relatively low therapeutic index. A high therapeutic index is preferable to a low one: this corresponds to a situation in which one would have to take a much higher dose of a drug to reach the lethal threshold than the dose taken to elicit the therapeutic effect.

Long term (prophylactic) regimens of oral colchicine are absolutely contraindicated in patients with advanced renal failure (including those on dialysis). 10-20% of a colchicine dose is excreted unchanged by the kidneys. Colchicine is not removed by hemodialysis. Cumulative toxicity is a high probability in this clinical setting. A severe neuromyopathy may result. The presentation includes a progressive onset of proximal weakness, elevated creatine kinase, and sensorimotor polyneuropathy. Colchicine toxicity can be potentiated by the concomitant use of cholesterol lowering drugs (statins, fibrates). This neuromuscular condition can be irreversible (even after drug discontinuation). Accompanying dementia has been noted in advanced cases. It may culminate in hypercapnic respiratory failure and death. (Minniti-2005)

Colchicine is "used widely" off-label by naturopaths for a number of treatments, including the treatment of back pain.[5]

Side effects

Side effects include gastro-intestinal upset and neutropenia. High doses can also damage bone marrow and lead to anemia. Note that all of these side effects can result from hyper-inhibition of mitosis.


Colchicine poisoning has been compared to arsenic poisoning: symptoms start 2 to 5 hours after the toxic dose has been ingested and include burning in the mouth and throat, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and kidney failure. These symptoms may set in as many as 24 hours after the exposure. Onset of multiple-system organ failure may occur within 24 to 72 hours. This includes hypovolemic shock due to extreme vascular damage and fluid loss through the GI tract, which may result in death. Additionally, sufferers may experience kidney damage resulting in low urine output and bloody urine; low white blood cell counts (persisting for several days); anemia; muscular weakness; and respiratory failure. Recovery may begin within 6 to 8 days. There is no specific antidote for colchicine, although various treatments do exist.[6]


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