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A Brief History of Diabetes part 1

After much research on Diabetes, I thought that it would be a good idea to delve into the history of Diabetes. What I found was a very long history of trial and error and although we’ve come a long way, it’s safe to assume that we’ve only scratched the surface of the way in which blood glucose is measured.

Diabetes was first mentioned in 1500 BC in Egypt, although it wasn’t until around 200 AD when it was officially named “Diabetes” by a Greek Physician, which means “siphon”. Studies suggest that it was named as such due to constant urination which is one of the symptoms from having Diabetes. Aretaeus noted a disease where patients would have symptoms of weight loss, constant thirst, and frequent urination. Yet, it wasn’t until around 1000 AD when an Arab Physician named Avicenna wrote in detail and documented the disease and its progress.

In the years between 1066 – 1485 (Medieval Period) many physicians adopted the practice of testing urine sample by means of using the senses, going as far as tasting urine samples in order to try and predict various diagnoses.

Centuries went by before any major development or research gave way to new information concerning Diabetes. In fact, it wasn’t until the 19th Century, over 300 years later, that a Physician from Guy’s Hospital in London discovered an excess of sugar in a blood serum sample of a diabetic patient. Around the end of the 19th Century is when the first “test strip” was invented by Jules Maumene which used Sheep Wool containing Tannous Chloride. The Physician placed drops of urine on the strips to detect excess sugar. The strips would turn black if your blood sugar was high.

There were no major changes to urine testing for the next 50 years. In this time span there were still no cures aside from informing patients to get on a proper diet and exercise which was discovered by Elliot Joslin, a leader in Diabetes study in the early 1900’s. He noted that by doing so will lower the amount of sugar in the urine.



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