Fatal Thirst: Diabetes in Britain Until Insulin

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BRILL, 2009 - Science - 194 pages
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Although ancient and medieval doctors knew of the disorder called diabetes, the disease they treated was rare and largely confined to young sufferers. By the late Renaissance, however, the increasing incidence of diabetes in older adults required a re-examination of what caused the malady and how to cure it. Led by English healers, such as controversial apothecary Nicholas Culpeper and elite physician Thomas Willis, the study of diabetes produced significant debate in print over the locus of the disease and remedies for its treatment. These debates paralleled the growing schism in English medical circles over contradictory iatric theories and professional jurisdiction. On the eve of insulin's discovery, diabetologists still quarrelled over what diets might alleviate its symptoms. Including perspectives from patients and drawing on myriad sources, this book examines changing approaches to diabetes and its victims within the context of medical and scientific progress.
 

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Contents

The Biography of a Disease and Its Sufferers
1
The Early History of Diabetes from Classical Times to the Renaissance Diagnoses and Descriptions
13
Renaissance Diabetics and Their Doctors Changing Treatments for Revolutionary Times
39
Early Modern Medicine in Print and Diabetes Published Advice and Imagery
61
Diabetes and SeventeenthCentury Medical Controversy
81
Reconstructing Diabetic Life in Early Modern England
101
Diabetic Specialists and Their Patients in the Long Nineteenth Century Competition for a Cure
123
After Insulin The Lingering Effects of an Incurable Disease
147
Epilogue
165
Bibliography
169
Index
191
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About the author (2009)

Elizabeth Lane Furdell, Ph.D. (1973) in History, Kent State University, is Professor of History at the University of North Florida. She has published extensively on early modern medicine including The Royal Doctors (Rochester, 2001) and Textual Healing (Brill, 2005).

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