Adolf Hitler Had A Pungent Medical Condition

Widely considered one of the most malevolent dictators in all of human history, Adolf Hitler, Germany's leader during World War II, also had a number of unique medical conditions. Symptoms of these issues included headaches, stomach cramps, constipation, and diarrhea. To help relieve Der Führer's discomfort, German doctors prescribed the Nazi mastermind several treatments that would be considered unusual by today's standards. One such example targeted an especially pungent gastrointestinal issue with which Hitler was known to have lived.

According to Dr. Ernst Gunther Schenck, who worked to preserve Hitler's medical files, "Hitler had three major illnesses." Hitler likely had arteriosclerotic heart disease and Parkinson's disease, according to Dr. Schenck. Also among Hitler's illnesses was "colitis, which probably represented the irritable bowel syndrome and included constipation and diarrhea" (via the Chicago Tribune). What Hitler likely suffered in terms of his digestive upsets is now known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

In the medical community, irritable bowel syndrome is a term used to describe a range of digestive symptoms (via the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases). While IBS is often discussed as a single condition, it can represents all sorts of issues affecting digestion, many of which could have afflicted Hitler, based on his known symptoms (via healthline). Patients are often diagnosed with IBS until the specific cause of symptoms is found. These symptoms match with Dr. Schenck's writings on Hitler and would explain the Führer's particularly repugnant reputation (in more ways than one).

Hitler had chronic flatulence

Among Hitler's persistent gastrointestinal symptoms was chronic flatulence, or to put it more bluntly, constant farting, according to Live Science. Although IBS is a bit of a catch-all term, it's widely thought now that Hitler likely lived with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes swelling and sores in the lining of the large intestine. Some of the most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, fatigue, and fever. These symptoms also match with Dr. Schenck's writings on Hitler and would explain Hitler's chronic flatulence.

There are other possibilities — a number of medical conditions can sometimes cause chronic farting, including celiac disease, colon cancer, Crohn's disease, and diabetes (via Mayo Clinic). Today some 1.6 million people live with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (via the Crohn's & Colitis  Foundation).

As All That's Interesting also notes, Dr. Theodor Morell treated Hitler's flatulence and stomach problems specifically with Mutaflor capsules, containing a strain of hydrolyzed E. coli, and Dr. Kuster's Anti-Gas pills. These alternative treatments seemed to work in the short term, but according to Live Science, the strychnine in the anti-gas pills led to liver and stomach damage. Furthermore, Dr. Morell's treatments, including codeine for pain, expectorants, quinine, salicylic acid, sulfonamides, and even cocaine, all could have contributed to Hitler's alleged drug addiction (via Chicago Tribune). 

Hitler took morphine and codeine

Some of the other treatments prescribed for Hitler by Dr. Morell included injections of young bull prostates for sexual impotence. Hitler's treatment regimen for his long list of ailments, many of which were gastrointestinal, also included opiates (via All That's Interesting). Hitler's doctors correctly believed that most of the German leader's  medical issues were related to an imbalance of gut microflora, and to help address these issues Hitler was given so-called "digestivums" to aid in his proper digestion. 

For cramps and pain, Hitler injected a cocktail of morphine and papaverine, an anti-spasmodic, as the Chicago Tribune goes on to report. And even if Hitler had been able to control his excessive farting, he was still not the type of person you would want to have over for dinner. An account given by a German officer who frequently dined with Hitler — who at different points in his life had some 30 daily injections and more than 60 different capsules and skin ointments — described Der Führer's less than savory eating habits. 

Farting aside, Hitler's table manners were lacking

According to that unknown officer, Hitler was known to eat "rapidly, mechanically — for him food is merely an indispensable means of subsistence" (via Metro). Eating too quickly is another potential cause of excessive flatulence, per Northwestern Medicine. The unknown Nazi officer also claimed that Hitler ate excessive amounts of cake, bit his fingernails, rubbed his nose repeatedly, and otherwise described Hitler's table manners as "shocking." The same informant said that Hitler tended to ignore conversations, often lost in his own thoughts. 

According to human behavioral expert Dr. Frank Farley, these rude table manners are not so surprising for Der Führer. "Hitler was a monster in his lack of concern for many people ... we can presume he knew people were afraid of him and his unpredictable and in-your-face table behavior might be said to help assert his absolute control over them all" (via NBC Philadelphia). Medical conditions aside, Hitler was still a rude dinner guest, and it may have been deliberate on his part, to demonstrate his power over others.