January 1, 2000
A Roman named Aulus Cornelius Celsus describes diabetes 2000 years ago.
Total Dietary Regulation in the Treatment of Diabetes
Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) made no mention of any condition clearly recognizable as diabetes. A notion concerning the quantity of urine, in a passage translated by Richardson from the third book of the Epidemics,” is like that of Celsus, but the first known recognition of diabetes occurred at about the height of the Roman power.
Aulus Cornelius Celsus (30 B.C.–50 A.D.) wrote as follows:
“When urine, even in excess of the drink, and flowing forth without pain, causes emaciation and danger, if it is thin, exercise and massage are indicated, especially in the sun or before a fire; the bath should be infrequent, nor should one linger long in it; the food should be con stipating, the wine sour and unmixed, in summer cold, in winter luke warm; but everything in smallest possible quantity. The bowels also should be moved by enema, or purged with milk. If the urine is thick, both exercise and massage should be more vigorous; one should stay longer in the bath; the food should be light, the wine likewise. In each disease, all things should be avoided that are accustomed to increase urine.”
In this compressed passage, Celsus gives the first description of diabetes, introduces an error (fluid output greater than intake) destined to endure eighteen centuries, and touches some modern treat ment. It is not known to what extent this knowledge was original with Celsus or handed down by predecessors. At any rate, the recog nition of the disease was so new that it had not yet received a name.
Aulus Cornelius Celsus (c. 25 BC – c. 50 AD) was a Roman encyclopaedist, known for his extant medical work, De Medicina, which is believed to be the only surviving section of a much larger encyclopedia. The De Medicina is a primary source on diet, pharmacy, surgery and related fields, and it is one of the best sources concerning medical knowledge in the Roman world. The lost portions of his encyclopedia likely included volumes on agriculture, law, rhetoric, and military arts. He made contributions to the classification of human skin disorders in dermatology, such as Myrmecia, and his name is often occurring in medical terms about the skin, e.g., kerion celsi and area celsi.