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The Average Body Temperature Is Not 98.6 | RealClearScience

The Average Body Temperature Is Not 98.6 | RealClearScience

Posted by Ross Pomeroy

Pioneering 19th century German physician Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich is widely known for championing the empirical observation of hospital patients and sagely spreading the idea that fever is a symptom, not a disease, but he is best known for persistently sticking a one-foot rod in the armpits of thousands of people.

The rod was a thermometer, of course, and the temperature measurements he recorded led him to reveal in his 1868 magnum opus, Dos Verhalten der Eigenwarme in Krankenheiten, a number that remains with us even today: 37 °C, or 98.6 °F, the average human body temperature.

Except that number is wrong.

In 1992, researchers at the University of Maryland used the latest equipment and employed rigorous methodology to determine the average human body temperature from a sample of 148 healthy men and women aged 18 through 40 years. Taking over 700 temperature readings spaced out at various times throughout the day, they found that the average human body temperature is closer to 98.2 °F, and, in a bold conclusion that flew in the face of 120 years of common knowledge, stated:

"Thirty-seven degrees centigrade (98.6 °F) should be abandoned as a concept relevant to clinical thermometry."

Even if Mr. Wunderlich is truly wrong -- and it's not looking good for him -- one can't really denigrate his effort. His readings reportedly came from a sizable sample group: as many as 25,000 individuals! But unfortunately, they also came from a now antiquated device. Wunderlich's data almost certainly was hindered by shoddy thermometers.

"Thermometers used by Wunderlich were cumbersome, and had to be read in situ, and, when used for axillary measurements [under the arm] required fifteen to twenty minutes to equilibrate," the researchers noted.

With 98.2 °F now considered to be the correct average human body temperature, it's worth mentioning that, if you took your temperature right now, it almost certainly won't be that number. Your body's temperature fluctuates throughout the day, from roughly 97.6 °F at six in the morning to 98.5 °F at six in the evening. In fact, a temperature as high as 99.5 °F is still considered healthy.

The human body relies on consistent temperatures to function properly. A body temperature ten degrees too warm or twenty degrees too cool more often than not results in death. But there are notable exceptions to the norm. Willie Jones of Atlanta, Georgia survived after reaching an internal temperature of 115.7 °F during a bout of heatstroke. Two-year-old Karlee Kosolofski's body temperature dipped down to 57.5 °F after spending five hours outside in a Canadian winter, yet she lived to tell the tale.


additional reference material on this topic:


Normal Body Temperature _ Rethinking the normal human body temperature - Harvard Health.pdf


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commonly abused drugs .pdf


Diversion Control Division, US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration

Definition of Controlled Substance Schedules

Drugs and other substances that are considered controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) are divided into five schedules.  An updated and complete list of the schedules is published annually in Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) §§ 1308.11 through 1308.15.  Substances are placed in their respective schedules based on whether they have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, their relative abuse potential, and likelihood of causing dependence when abused.  Some examples of the drugs in each schedule are listed below.

Schedule I Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.

Some examples of substances listed in Schedule I are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine ("Ecstasy").

Schedule II/IIN Controlled Substances (2/2N)

Substances in this schedule have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Examples of Schedule II narcotics include: hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), methadone (Dolophine®), meperidine (Demerol®), oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®), and fentanyl (Sublimaze®, Duragesic®).  Other Schedule II narcotics include: morphine, opium, codeine, and hydrocodone.

Examples of Schedule IIN stimulants include: amphetamine (Dexedrine®, Adderall®), methamphetamine (Desoxyn®), and methylphenidate (Ritalin®).

Other Schedule II substances include: amobarbital, glutethimide, and pentobarbital.

Schedule III/IIIN Controlled Substances (3/3N)

Substances in this schedule have a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I or II and abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Examples of Schedule III narcotics include: products containing not more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with Codeine®), and buprenorphine (Suboxone®).

Examples of Schedule IIIN non-narcotics include: benzphetamine (Didrex®), phendimetrazine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids such as Depo®-Testosterone.

Schedule IV Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a low potential for abuse relative to substances in Schedule III.

Examples of Schedule IV substances include: alprazolam (Xanax®), carisoprodol (Soma®), clonazepam (Klonopin®), clorazepate (Tranxene®), diazepam (Valium®), lorazepam (Ativan®), midazolam (Versed®), temazepam (Restoril®), and triazolam (Halcion®).

Schedule V Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a low potential for abuse relative to substances listed in Schedule IV and consist primarily of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics.

Examples of Schedule V substances include: cough preparations containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams (Robitussin AC®, Phenergan with Codeine®), and ezogabine.


Diversion Control Division  •  8701 Morrissette Drive  •  Springfield, VA 22152  •  1-800-882-9539



The real concerns about employees and drug use

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CB1 Receptor

Crystal Structure of the Human Cannabinoid

Receptor CB1


Crystal Structure of the Human Cannabinoid Receptor CB1.pdf