Worried about Corona virus spreading in India? Buy Health Insurance and get coverage now. View Plans
Take informed decisions with IIFL Insurance:

Diabetes Mellitus – Origin & History

What Is Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus (DM), is also known as just diabetes. It is a set of metabolic disorders specified by a high blood sugar level over a long period of time. It has many subtypes including type 1, type 2, maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY), gestational diabetes, neonatal diabetes, and steroid-induced diabetes. Type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus are the main diabetes which have a high potential for hyperglycemia.

Symptoms of diabetes mellitus mainly include urination, increased thirst and increased appetite. Diabetes mellitus can cause many health complications. It helps to consider the importance of improving collaboration and care coordination amongst the interprofessional team to provide the delivery care for patients influenced by diabetes mellitus.

Origin of the term ‘diabetes mellitus’

The term diabetes has the shortened name called diabetes mellitus. From the ancient word diabetes means siphon – move through and the Latin word mellitus means honeyed or sweet. It is found that in diabetes there is more sugar in blood as well as the urine. As the “pissing evil” it was studied in the 17th century .

By Apollonius of Memphis around 250 BC The term diabetes was possibly coined. Diabetes was first noted in English in a medical text written around 1425. The word “mellitus’” was added by Thomas Willis with the word diabetes in 1675. It means the sweet taste of the urine. In urine this sweet taste had been observed by the ancient Greeks, Chinese, Egyptians, Indians, and Persians as is noticeable from their literature.


Diabetes mellitus has a long history that goes back to antiquity. However, a poor knowledge of anatomy, pathophysiology and lack of diagnostic tools during that period due to the disease continued to be extremely complicated to physicians.Even so, physicians in antiquity noticed the characteristic features of diabetes and provided several therapeutic approaches. 

In Ebers papyrus, dated back to 1500 BC, it is found that many describe patients who have suffered from excessive thirst, copious urination and they are managed by plants’ extracts.Moreover, historian of medicine and translator of the Ebers papyrus Paul Ghalioungui (1908-1987) according to the Egyptian endocrinologist, , likely the variety of a diabetes, in Ebers, is considered as not satisfied and go probably wrong. 

There is exactly the title of a procedure for the “Treatment of a thirsty woman” In Kahun papyrus (c. 2000 BC), but the text is missing. So, ancient Egyptians could not accept the symptoms behind specific disease matter such as diabetes. The famous Indian surgeon Sushruta around the 5th century BC in his work Samhita, determined diabetes, by using the term madhumeha (honey-like urine) and described not only the sweet taste of the urine but also its close touch feeling and its ability to attract the ants (!). 

Further, Sushruta noticed that diabetes influences especially the rich castes and is related to extra food consumption such as rice, cereals, and sweets. In ancient China, Chang Chung-Ching (ca. 160-ca. 219), mentioned as “the Chinese Hippocrates”, specified polyuria, polydipsia and as symptoms of a specific disease in weight loss, while AD Chen Chuan noted in the 7th century that the sweet urine in diabetes mellitus and consider the disease name Hsiao Kho ping to determine its distinctive symptoms: intense thirst, copious drinking, and urine in large amounts which is tasted sweet. In determining to treat that disease his colleague Li Hsuan prescribed moderation in wine, salt, and sex. 

From the 8th century onward, physicians noticed the weakness of diabetic patients to expand skin infections such as furuncles, rodent ulcers, and troubles of eyesight. In the 11th century AD, in his textbook, El-Kanun (Canon of Medicine) mentioned diabetes the celebrated Arabo-Islamic physician Avicenna (980-1037) and described gangrene and sexual dysfunction as its complication. Many Years later, the primitive scholar Moises Maimonides (1138-1204) specified in detail diabetes, including the symptoms of acidosis. 

Ancient Egyptians, Indians, Chinese, and Arabs tried to express the clinical signs and symptoms of diabetes mellitus. However, there are few main protagonists in the history of diabetes mellitus who give significantly to its diagnosis and treatment and also to the development of current concepts on the disease, the way to cover for further study and showing a new medical subspecialty, diabetology.


Over 3000 years have gone past since the first evidence of this chronic, heterogeneous endocrine disease of carbohydrates, fat, and protein metabolism. The historic developments of diabetes, their management, and continued advances have signified emergence and growth over a long period of time. 

The introduction of HbA1C transformed the unwanted, repeated, and regular blood sugar evaluation identifying follow-up visits. It shows the management of blood glucose with more reliability and compliance.

Buy Insurance - 18002101330