In 1851, the German In 1851, the German physician Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich obtained millions of axillary temperatures from 25,000 patients in Leipzig, thereby establishing the standard for normal human body temperature of 37°C or 98.6 °F (range: 36.2–37.5°C [97.2- 99.5 °F]) (Mackowiak, 1997; Wunderlich and Sequin, 1871). A compilation of 27 modern studies, however (Sund-Levander et al., 2002), reported mean temperature to be uniformly lower than Wunderlich’s estimate..
..we determined that mean body temperature in men and women, after adjusting for age, height, weight and, in some models date and time of day, has decreased monotonically by 0.03°C per birth decade. A similar decline within the Union Army cohort as between cohorts, makes measurement error an unlikely explanation. This substantive and continuing shift in body temperature—a marker for metabolic rate—provides a framework for understanding changes in human health and longevity over 157 years.