Diabetes has been around for centuries, dating as far back as 1552BC, when an Egyptian physician named Hesy-Ra, documented polyuria as a symptom of elevated blood sugar levels. Obviously, during that time, doctors were not privy to the sophisticated testing technology of today, so they needed to pay “water tasters”, to help with their diagnosis of diabetes. “Water tasters” were employed to taste the urine of individuals suspected of having diabetes, as there would be a distinct sweet flavor. “Mellitus” was added to one of the symptoms of diabetes, because it means (in Latin) honey or sweet tasting. Thankfully, in the early 19th century, J.P. Collipit, developed a better way to test for diabetes.
Apollinaire Bouchardat, a French pharmacist, made the connection between elevated levels and severe lows in blood sugar in the urine (known as glycosuria), during the Franco-Prussian War and times of necessary food rations.
After the war, once diet was established as a direct result of diabetes, Claude Bernard, focused his studies on how the liver and pancreas function. He made important discoveries regarding the metabolism of glycogen.
During the same time period, Pavlov, another medical researcher, discovered the link between the secretion of gastric acid and a persons’ nervous system. This research helped future scientists better understand the human digestive system, which led to a more effective treatment of diabetes.
A German medical student, Paul Langerhans, made a discovery in 1869 that related to the pancreas cells.
Injectable insulin has been used as a diabetic treatment since the 1940’s.
Just before the year 1960, physicians recognized the difference between Type One and Type Two diabetes. This important distinction helped diabetic patients receive personalized treatment; increase their quality of life, and reduce the risk of possible complications due to untreated high blood sugar.
Insulin was supplied from cows, until the first synthetic insulin was made available on the general market during the year 1983. Today, synthetic insulin is not only administered via a syringe, but also via pump, which can reduce physical complications that can occur in older individuals who have diabetes.
Insulin pumps are also a cost effective way to delivery insulin to diabetics, and many insurance companies cover the expense of the pump.
Although research is ongoing, diagnosis and treatments have come a long way from the days of “water tasters”.
Remember, diabetes is a worldwide epidemic, and we encourage you to do what you can, to keep your blood sugar regulated, and to avoid carrying around excess body fat, by engaging in moderate daily exercise and having healthy eating habits.