The Milestones of Diabetes In Traditional Chinese Medicine
Authors: Xiaotian Shen, M.P.H. Director of Clinical Training,
Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin, O.M.D., M.D. (China), L.Ac.
In the first century AD, the Greeks described the disease as "a melting down of the flesh and limbs into urine." Gradually the Latin word for honey, "mellitus," was appended to diabetes because of its link with sweet urine. Aretaeus the Cappodician ("Aretaeus" is sometimes spelled "Areteus" or "Aretaios.") was probably the first western doctor to
name this disease as "diabetes" (Greek: διαβητς) around the second century. It is derived from the Greek διαβα iνειν, diabainein that literally means "to go through", "passing through," or "siphon,” reflecting the early understanding of a disease that drained an excessive volume of urine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has had an awareness of this illness, as well as its diagnosis and treatments since ancient times. There have been discoveries of inscriptions in ancient oracles wherein 22 diseases had been recorded during the Shang dynasty from 1395 BC to 1122 BC. Included in these texts was an illness called “Urinary Disease” but the description was too simple for people today to determine if it indeed referred to what we now call “Sugar Urine Disease” in China.
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* Articles Originally Published in SUN TEN Quarterly Newsletter Spring 2007
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