History of the treatment of diabetes

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Sushruta, Arataeus, and Thomas Willis were the early pioneers of the treatment of diabetes. Greek physicians prescribed exercise – preferably on horseback to alleviate excess urination.

In 1776, Matthew Dobson confirmed that the sweet taste of urine of diabetics was due to excess of a kind of sugar in the urine and blood of people with diabetes.

In ancient times and medieval ages diabetes was usually a death sentence. Aretaeus did attempt to treat it but could not give a good outcome. Sushruta (6th century BCE) an Indian healer identified diabetes and classified it as “Madhumeha”. Here the word “madhu” means honey and combined the term means sweet urine. The ancient Indians tested for diabetes by looking at whether ants were attracted to a person’s urine.

In Persia Avicenna (980–1037) provided a detailed account on diabetes mellitus in “’The Canon of Medicine”. He described abnormal appetite and the decline of sexual functions along with sweet urine. He also identified diabetic gangrene. Avicenna was the first to describe diabetes insipidus very precisely. It was much later in the 18th and 19th century that Johann Peter Frank (1745–1821) differentiated between diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus.
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This post was written by JSM Innovations LLP ( Healthcare Division)

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