In the 5th century BC, diabetes was first identified by a surgeon named Sushruta who pointed out that the urine of diabetics was sweet enough to attract ants and sticky to the touch. He noted that diabetes affected rich castes and was related to the excessive consumption of rice and sweets

Milestones in the history of diabetes mellitus: The main contributors

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Abstract

Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases involving carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism. It is characterized by persistent hyperglycemia which results from defects in insulin secretion, or action or both. Diabetes mellitus has been known since antiquity. Descriptions have been found in the Egyptian papyri, in ancient Indian and Chinese medical literature, as well as, in the work of ancient Greek and Arab physicians. In the 2nd century AD Aretaeus of Cappadocia provided the first accurate description of diabetes, coining the term diabetes, while in 17th century Thomas Willis added the term mellitus to the disease, in an attempt to describe the extremely sweet taste of the urine. The important work of … Continue Reading (19 minute read)

14 thoughts on “In the 5th century BC, diabetes was first identified by a surgeon named Sushruta who pointed out that the urine of diabetics was sweet enough to attract ants and sticky to the touch. He noted that diabetes affected rich castes and was related to the excessive consumption of rice and sweets”

  1. theo_tiger

    We apparently did use urine for a lot of stuff, as I’ve learned recently.

    In ancient Egypt women would pee on wheat and if it sprouted she was probably pregnant. And, iirc, muuuch later they injected the urine of a women they wanted to test into a specific kind of frog. If she was pregnant the hormonal load would prompt the frog to produce eggs. That method had a over 90% reliability.

  2. Knight_of_the_Lepus

    I have wondered for years how the ancients detected the sweetness in diabetic urine.

    The only thing I could think of is that they drank it.

    This finally explains it.

    Thanks!

  3. niceguybadboy

    I shudder to think of what 5th century BC surgeon’s job was like.

  4. imaketrollfaces

    Sushruta is one of the pioneers of medicine in India.

  5. FREE-AOL-CDS

    “Your pee tastes like birthday cake”

  6. hillty

    So they’d a better appreciation of the cause than the mainstream has now.

  7. shaggy99

    The cause and solution to Scurvy was correctly identified about a century before the answer was generally accepted.

  8. DrNugz

    I remember in grade school the boys urinals always smelled like super sugar crisp cereal…. I wonder if this is why.

  9. kunba

    Does that rice part hold truth?

  10. striderwhite

    Yeah, ants…I bet he tasted it!

  11. heyniceweed

    Using my porn acct because it’s fitting for this, but my ex gf and me loved water-sports and would always comment how sweet my pee was (i know i know it’s odd but it was always funny) because I’m a T1D

  12. Spacedoc9

    Early medicine in a nutshell: “well have you tried tasting it?”

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