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Renaissance Diabetics And Their Doctors: Changing Treatments For Revolutionary Times

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Chapter Summary

Determining what illnesses beset victims long dead is a tricky proposition, especially if reliable, medically astute observers are scarce. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography lists over 150 diabetic sufferers in its recent compilation of famous lives; its predecessor, The Dictionary of National Biography, counts only a handful of victims of diabetes, most of them in the nineteenth-century. Consequently, by the Stuart century, many established doctors in Britain tempered their Galenism with new theories about specific cures for specific diseases. Thinking wasting disease monolithic, Galenists prescribed the use of emetics to relieve strain on the kidneys of diabetics, as well as astringents and refrigerant remedies. The French-educated Jacobean court physician Mayerne kept Latin casebooks, Ephemerides Morborum (Diaries of Disease), in which he fused humoral theory with chemical principles.

Keywords: diabetics; Galenism; humoral theory; Mayerne kept Latin



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