How was diabetes first discovered, and by who?

A lot of people oftentimes wonder how diabetes was first discovered, and by whom. It's a great question given the fact that tens of millions of people suffer with diabetes around the world.

Let's dig into the history of the word "diabetes," and in then in turn learn a bit more about who first discovered the condition, and how our understanding of diabetes has evolved over the years.

The word diabetes is derived from a Greek word that basically means "to pass through." This doesn't make sense until you see that the official medical term used to describe this condition is "diabetes mellitus" -- the second word in the phrase meaning honeyed or sweet in Latin. Huh? It's okay this may seem a little bit confusing, so let's explain this in a bit more detail.

People who have diabetes essentially have too much sugar in their blood and in their urine. So the way to look at it is to think of all the sugar basically passing through the body into one's blood and into one's urine. That's basically where the word diabetes comes from. Pretty interesting, eh?

In 1889, Joseph von Mering and Oskar Minkowski discovered the role of the pancreas in diabetes. They found that dogs whose pancreas had been removed developed all the signs and symptoms of diabetes and died shortly afterwards. In 1910, Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer (that's a heck of a long name, isn't it?) discovered that diabetes resulted from lack of the hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas.

At this point, you probably feel as if though you know more about diabetes than you needed to. However, we live in a world where it's increasingly important for people to understand more about their health and wellness. There's no point in trying to have a conversation about a condition called "diabetes" when we don't really even understand where the name comes from, or who even discovered this condition in the first place.

The more you know about diabetes, especially if you're somebody who's been diagnosed with this disease, the more empowered you will feel to make intelligent decisions regarding your treatment options.


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