How Did Diabetes Patients Survive Before The Invention Of Insulin?

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India in the past was at the forefront of understanding type I and type II diabetes. Because diabetes patients’ urine had a high percentage of sugar due to raised glucose levels, the ancient Indians used ants to detect the disease. The Indians labelled the illness with the diabetic term “madhumeha,” or honey urine, because the ants were drawn to urine high in sugar.

The Indians understood that obese, wealthy people with diabetes had a different kind from younger, leaner patients. Patients who were heavier benefited from increased physical activity, whereas slimmer patients saw no improvement. They were also aware of the rarity of both types of diabetes. Along with conventional Ayurvedic medicine, there was a combination of increased physical activity, exercise, and dietary modifications. Additional herbs used were curcumin, fenugreek, bitter gourd, and others. These procedures are still utilized in India today along with other forms of therapy. Since they lacked the means to generate insulin, ancient India was able to treat type II diabetes but could only do so much for type I.

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We can suppose that many Type II diabetes patients lived for many years following diagnosis because of the work of two ancient Indian physicians, Sushruta (700 BC) and Charaka (400 BC). As a means of preserving good health, the concept of increasing physical activity and consuming foods that encourage weight loss was well known. Foods with a higher fat content were thought to be healthier than those with a higher sugar level. Despite being in the middle of the modern age, type I and type II diabetes were not differentiated until the 1930s. Before the discovery of insulin in the 1920s, the diabetic treatments developed by the ancient Indians were arguably the most advanced. Despite the fact that diabetes is now better understood.

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