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The Early History Of Diabetes From Classical Times To The Renaissance: Diagnoses And Descriptions

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Chapter Summary

Concern for those afflicted with diabetes dates to the 16th century B.C., when ancient Hindu authors noted the terrible thirst (polydipsia) and constant urination (polyuria) of diabetics, conditions that preceded a prolonged and sometimes painful death. Physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia, a second-century contemporary and follower of Archigenes, reiterated the name diabetes, but at last distinguished between types of the disorder, what we now call diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus, a completely different malady. Medical literature in the West before the Renaissance largely gives diabetes short shrift, although dietary advice rooted in Hippocrates and Galen was plentiful enough. Although several European universities endorsed the more experimental medical theories of Paracelsus in their curricula, Oxford and Cambridge, the only schools where medical education was available in Renaissance England, remained true to Galenism.

Keywords: Archigenes; Cambridge; diabetes; European universities; Galen; Hippocrates; Oxford; Paracelsus; renaissance



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