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February 9, 1797

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At this time Dr. Currie had just received a publication from Dr. Rollo, Surgeon General to the Royal Artillery, at Woolwich, of a case of Diabetes that he had treated with success; he had not read it; but he understood that much was attributed to animal diet. On this authority our patient, John Clarke, was ordered to live chiefly on flesh and milk.





Cases of the diabetes mellitus : with the results of the trials of certain acids

John Rollo


Important Text:

From Dr. Gerard, Liverpool 

The following case is that mentioned in Dr. Curriers letter to us, and we communicate it with the greatest pleasure to the public as being drawn up with the utmost accuracy, and containing details of procedure of the utmost importance towards perseeling our views of the nature and treatment of the disease, as well as of confirming them.


John Clarke, aged 38, was received into the Liverpool Infirmary, under Diabetes, on the 9th February, 1797.

 He was a soldier in Lord Darlington's Light Horse when they were reduced in February, 1796. 

At that time he was in good health ; thinks he might then have weighed about 140 pounds in his clothes; he is 5 feet 7.5 inches in height; has dark hair and grey eyes. He always enjoyed good health, but was subject to pyrosis, and accustomed to perspire much. Happening to reside near the seacoast, he has from a boy been used to bathe frequently during the summer months, not for any indisposition, but merely for gratification ; sometimes he went into the water twice the fame day, and staid in it 10 or 15 minutes; being always of a coflive habit, he also drank of the water occasionally. He discontinued the practice of bathing, however, while the weather still continued warm, as early, he thinks, as the beginning of August; his habitual perspiration leflened afterwards by degrees, and he continued in good health till about the end of November, 1796, when the perspiration entirely ceased, and the cuticle became unnaturally dry, harm, and rough, and is now to all appearance dead, and incapable either of perspiration or absorption, or any kind of transmission. About this time some headache also came on, and the bowels became in general more costive, though he was sometimes troubled with a lax for a few days. 

With the preceding symptoms he was afflicted with a most distressing thirst, which was not to be satisfied. His appetite was increased, and yet he loft flem daily, and grew weaker very felt, particularly in the thighs and small of the back, attended with pain in the region of the kidneys. He also observed, that he made much more urine than usual, and that the quantity increased from day to day. It should be remarked, that having no other means of getting here, he was under the necessity of walking from five, to eight miles each day, for three successive days, before he reached Liverpool ; but this was a whole day's work, and a great fatigue to him. Considering this to be a cafe, that from all former experience might almost be deemed incurable, I wished to consult my Colleagues, Dr. Brandreth and Dr. Currie ; therefore I only ordered him a dose of castor oil, to remove, the costive state of the body. Those gentlemen saw him with me on the 1 1th February. At this time Dr. Currie had just received a publication from Dr. Rollo, Surgeon General to the Royal Artillery, at Woolwich, of a case of Diabetes that he had treated with success ; he had not read it ; but he understood that much was attributed to animal diet. On this authority our patient was ordered to live chiefly on flesh and milk; he was also directed to use the warm bath, and with a view of ascertaining whether the generally received opinion that absorption takes place in this disease be true, he was defined to be weighed naked, both before he went into it, and upon coming out (Dr. Currie having observcd in a case of a different nature, that no absorption took place in the warm bath) ; the pulse to be counted; and the heat of the body ascertained by placing a thermometer under the tongue, and to note the whole down.

February 12th. He went into the bath for the first time, when the pulse was, before bathing, 

75, after it, 85. 

Heat of the body 91, —-—— 95. 

Weight of the body 112lb. 4oz. -- 112lb. 6oz.

February 15th. During the same time he took two pounds and a half of animal food, and twelve pounds of liquids, including milk, beer, and water. The directions for his living on animal food having been misunderstood, he has hitherto had only one meal of flesh daily, and with it a portion of potatoes and bread.

February 20th. Having read Dr. Rollo's publication, he was ordered this day to live entirely on animal food and broth, without either bread, beer, or any vegetable matter, and to persist in that plan without taking any medicine whatever; for as diet appeared to have had a principal share of the success experienced in Dr. Rollo's cafe, we wished to try whether that plan only was capable of effecting a cure.

Feb 24th. He took two pounds of beef, and 6 pounds of broth.

Feb 25th. The dead cuticle is peeling off, and he is obviously improving in every respect, and gaining weight. He continues the diet of animal food, with the daily allowance of a pound of beer.

March 2nd. Urine 6 pounds 5 ounces. The animal food,: with the beer, has been persisted in. I have hitherto thought the griping and looseness were accidental, but as they continue, they may perhaps be owing to the great change made in his diet ; on that idea, therefore, I have allowed him half a pound of bread daily, and have ordered him 30 drops of laudanum at bed-time. He feels himfelf considerably stronger, and can lit up much longer at a time. He has no extraordinary thirst ; the urine has neither sediment nor smell.

The griping and looseness do not abate by the admixture of vegetable matter, on which idea only the bread, as it may be remembered, was allowed. He loses weight daily. This reverse of the success we experienced in the beginning, would prompt me strongly to have recourse to the fulphurated kali, or hepatifed ammonia ; but the circumstance of his having gained so much advantage, and so rapidly, while he lived on animal food entirely, and the wish to try what that diet alone would effect (which should be remembered was the plan we set out upon), determines me to return to it again, especially as it may enable us to decide whether it is alone equal to the cure. I therefore ordered both the bread and beer to be discontinued ; and to rely on the laudanum, absorbents, to correct the diarrhoea. He was allowed milk in place of the beer.

March 14th. He is rather more thirsty ; his appetite is not so good, being satiated with animal food ; he was allowed an onion to his meal.

March 19th. Being desirous of gratifying my patient with any change of diet that could be indulged in without impeding the cure, I ordered him to have a meal of fish, two or three times a week, meaning at the same time to ascertain whether that deviation from the plan of animal diet might be allowed with impunity.

March 20th. He disliked the fish, and said it was not so satisfying to his appetite as the meat; he thinks his thirst and appetite are more craving. He had a very good night, with some perspiration over the whole body; griping quite left him ; and flatulency greatly relieved.

March 26th. He has bad a restless night, and vomited frequently till 3 o'clock in the morning ; his spirits are better, and he thinks himself stronger. He had a pudding made of milk, suet, and eggs, for his dinner, which he was fond of.

March 28th. The diet, with the pudding of milk, eggs, and suet, were given as directed.

March 31st. He continues better, and feels a more comfortable warmth than he has been accustomed to do lately. His pulse has been from 85 to 90 for a week past. He is so tired with broth, that he has refused to take any for some time, and owing to his fondness for the eggs and milk, either baked or boiled with suet, he has eaten too little meat lately. I therefore ordered that he should at leail eat one pound daily.

April 6th. It becomes very irksome to keep him to animal food, even with a very large allowance of milk; and I learn that he takes the suet off the milk when it cools. He feels himfelf better today. He continues the animal food with milk, eggs &c.

April 19th. The diet is continued.

April 25th. Finding that he has upon the whole been losing weight since the 17th, I questioned him very closely about his getting other food than what was allowed him, but he denied it, and shewed much impatience about staying longer with us, saying that he thought himself well and strong again, and that he would rather go, as he was watched like a thief. Though I do not confider him to be so well as he thinks he is, yet as the quantity of his urine is so much reduced, and its former nature so entirely reversed, I have, notwithstanding his having lost weight, allowed him four ounces of flour in his pudding, and two ounces of bread with his meat ; for fear he would run away, and leave us uncertain of the event.

May 6th. I have at length discovered, through the information of another patient in the fame ward, that Clarke adhered rigidly to the regimen prefcribed him, only for about 14 days at the first. In the course of the disease we have often had reasonto suspect that he was deviating from our plan, and three or four times the necessity of a fine attention on his part was particularly infilled on. After these cautions he attended to his regimen strictly for a day or two, but again relaxed, through the almost irresistible propensity to more or less of vegetable diet, which seems to be one of the characteristic symptoms of this disease. With thefe exceptions, it appears that he has generally partaken with the other patients in the common mixed diet of the house, and that he has drank water when thirsty, if he had no milk. I cannot learn that he ever gave any part of the flesh meat to the other patients. It is extremely vexatious to have been so much deceived, yet I don't think it lessens the inference, that animal diet has been the means of effecting the very great alteration in the quantity and quality of his urine ; for though he has eaten more promiscuoufly than was supposed, he has at all times taken a large proportion of animal matter, and a marked effect: has at different periods of the disease followed the more entire use of it, particularly in the beginning, when his apprehension made him adhere rigidly to the plan. The discovery, though vexatious, has perhaps made this a better case, in as much as it shows that an absolute exclusion of vegetable matter is not necessary, at least not for so long a time ; and also as it proves that he is nearer being cured than he was thought to be, by the characteristic symptoms of the disease not having been reproduced by the superior quantity of vegetable matter he has eaten to what he was supposed to have done. Whether his appetite is so strong as to constitute it a remnant of the disease I know not ; but from the impossibility of retraining him, and for the purpose of ascertaining whether the care was complete, he is ordered to have the diet of the house only.

April 7th. His. diet now consists of milk, meat, potatoes, and bread.

April 25th. He was discharged from the Infirmary to all appearance cured of the disease; which, to his own thinking, has long been the case ; and to the opinion of his being even cured I have no hesitation in subscribing.

Topics: (click image to open)

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