Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Ancient history of diabetes

Ebers Papyrus, which was written around 1500 BC, excavated in 1862 AD from an ancient grave in Thebes, Egypt, and published by Egyptologist Georg Ebers in 1874, describes, among various other ailments and their remedies, a condition of “too great emptying of the urine” – perhaps, the reference to diabetes mellitus. For the treatment of this condition, ancient Egyptian physicians were advocating the use of wheat grains, fruit, and sweet beer.

The condition was first termed ‘diabetes’ by Apollonius Memphites. Apollonius Memphites, an Egyptian physician at around 230 BC had used the prefix ‘diabetes’ for the first time to denote an excessive passage of urine and ascribed its aetiology to the kidney. In Greek, “diabetes” means “siphon.”

Diabetes, a Greek word was the term used to denote ‘run through or siphon’ in the description of incessant urination (Adams 1856), a word originally ascribed to Demetrios of Apamaia in the 200-250 BC.

The first attempt at describing the symptoms of diabetes was made by Aulus Cornelius Celsus (30 BC-50 AD) of Greece. Celsus had described an ailment which presented with excessive urination in frequency and volume, and painless emaciations.

By 500 A.D. two Indian physicians – Susruta and Charaka – had differentiated between the type 1 and type 2 forms of the disease. And they made observations of the sweetness of urine from observing ants congregating around the urine of patients. Sushruta uses the term “madhumeha” to refer to diabetes. “Madhu” means “honey” or “sweet,” and the whole term refers to the sweetness of diabetic urine.

They observed that thin individuals with diabetes developed diabetes at a younger age in contrast to heavier individuals with diabetes, who had a later onset and lived longer period of time after the diagnosis.

In the same year that Dumas gave glucose its name, the physician George Rees isolated sugar in excess from the blood of a patient with diabetes.
Ancient history of diabetes
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