Home > The history of diabetes
Diabetes was first mentioned in 1552BC by Egyptian Physician Hesy-Ra.
It was also discovered back in 230BC. It was described by the Ancient Greek Physician of Cappadocia as the melting of flesh and limbs into urine.
The Ancient Indians diagnosed diabetes by seeing if the urine was sweet enough to attract ants.
Patients were described to have sexual problems, an insatiable appetite, sweet urine and gangrene.
In 1797 Scottish physician John Rollo came up with the first treatment for diabetes. It involved eating high fat and low carbohydrate foods in order to manage the disease. (Kind of like the Atkins diet of today.)
Exercise was also prescribed as well as drinking lots of liquid and overfeeding to prevent dehydration and to combat weight loss. Other treatments involved abstaining from sex, wine and salty food.
Later on treatment for diabetes was to follow a very low calorie diet.
Unfortunately they did not do a lot in treating the disease and the patients would still be hungry and weak. All it did was prolong their lives until they wasted away. Eventually the patient would suffocate and fall into a diabetic coma and then
death would happen.
Diabetes in those days was a death sentence.
Type 1 diabetes was associated with children and young people. Once the disease took hold death happened fairly quickly. Type 2 diabetes was associated with older overweight people.
Thank goodness there is now treatment for people with diabetes to live a long and active life. If I was born over 100 years ago I would have had this death sentence as well.
I have also learned that the history of diabetes is very interesting and is longer than I thought.
A Canadian surgeon called Fred Banting discovered that they could reverse diabetes in dogs by giving them an injection of the islet cells in the pancreas taken from healthy dogs.
He then went on to purify this hormone from the pancreases of oxen. This then led to the insulin injections being discovered and in 1922 the first patient was treated.
He also worked with Charles Best, a medical student and James Collop, a biochemist to develop and purify the insulin.
Children who were dying of diabetes were all grouped together in various hospital wards around the country. They were all in a coma and near death. Fred Banting, Charles Best and James Collop went from bed to bed injecting each child with insulin. All children immediately came out of their comas, felt better and started to recover much to the joy and relief of their families.
You can also see the production of insulin and old fashioned insulin pens below.
Thanks to Fred Banting Diabetes is no longer a death sentence. People who are diagnosed with it are immediately treated with Insulin and they start to feel better.
They can also still live full and active lives and hopefully one day there will be a cure.
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