Back then, it was nothing more than another thing that baffled scientists.
It dates back for centuries, and, as it reaches near epidemic status in this era, researchers are still looking for new answers to their questions.
In the early days of “medicine doctors” there were no sophisticated methods of testing people believed to have diabetes, so they employed the help of “water tasters.”
Up until the 11th century, these “tasters” would taste the urine of those suspected to have diabetes to see if the urine had a sweet taste to it. Really.
But that’s just one part of the history of diabetes-in the beginning...It was the early 19th century before scientists were able to develop the first chemical tests to show and measure the presence of glucose in the urine. This was an important discovery which allowed doctors more consistency in diagnosing and monitoring this condition.
- The effect of diet on diabetes wasn’t even brought up until the 1870’s when French physician Bouchardat noticed that the glucose in the urine, (glycosuria) common in diabetic patients, decreased significantly during food rationing.
The French were forced to ration food during the siege by Germany during the Franco-Prussian war. After noticing the difference in the glycosuria, he theorized that it was the diet that played an important role in the treatment of diabetes.
- Following the end of the war, French researcher Claude Bernard studied the function of the pancreas and liver making important discoveries in the metabolism of glycogen. Glycogen is a substance deposited in bodily tissues to store carbohydrates
At the same time Czech researcher, Pavlov, discovered the link between the nervous system and secretion of gastric acid. The combination of both discoveries helped later researchers to understand the physiology of the digestive system.
- It was another 20 years before the link between high blood glucose and damage to the kidneys and eyes was discovered which paved the way for more standardized insulin treatment using an insulin syringe.
In 1959 physicians recognized the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. This helped to individualize treatment of the diabetic and lengthen their lifespan by decreasing the risk for complications.
With the advent of laser surgery in 1970, researchers were able to slow the progressive damage to the eye that diabetics so often suffered. At this time other researchers began manufacturing glucometers to test blood samples for glucose at home, as well as the insulin pump.
Synthetic insulin was introduced in 1983. Until that time the standard insulin supply was from cattle.