An Overview of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola

diabetes signs

Story at-a-glance -

  • The name diabetes mellitus, often shortened to just “diabetes,” is a combination of the Greek words diabetes (to siphon or pass through) and mellitus (honeyed or sweet)
  • While the discovery of insulin and other natural treatments has helped many diabetics over the decades, many are still uneducated about the disease

The name diabetes mellitus, often shortened to just “diabetes,” is a combination of the Greek words diabetes (to siphon or pass through) and mellitus (honeyed or sweet). This is because the most prominent indicator of the disease is excess sugar in the blood and the urine.1

Historians believe that diabetes got its name from Apollonius of Memphis, Egypt around 250 B.C., but the word “mellitus” was added in 1675 by Thomas Willis, an English Physician famous for his contributions in the field of neuroscience. In his final book, “Rational Therapeutics,” he noted that those who have diabetes have sweet-tasting urine, hence he added the word mellitus.2

The Discovery of Insulin and Other Early Treatments of Diabetes

Historically, Greek physicians favored horseback exercise as a treatment for diabetes because they believed that this activity helped alleviate excess urination. Other classical methods included overfeeding to compensate for loss of fluid weight, starvation diet or drinking wine.3 As time progressed, the medical knowledge of doctors increased, leading to better treatments.

In the early 1870’s during the Franco-Prussian War, French physician Apollinaire Bouchardat observed that the condition of his diabetic patients improved due to war-related food rationing. From there, he was able to create specific diets as a way to treat diabetes.4

However, it was the discovery of insulin that helped propel the known treatments of diabetes forward to a new frontier. Canadian physicist Frederick Banting and his student Charles H. Best discovered the hormone in the pancreas of healthy dogs. When they injected it into a diabetic dog, they discovered that it helped lower blood glucose levels.

Eventually, they tried the same procedure on a human patient using purified insulin and produced the same results. In honor of their efforts, they were awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.5

4 Common Misconceptions About Type 2 Diabetes

While the discovery of insulin and other natural treatments has helped many diabetics over the decades, many are still uneducated about the disease. Here are a few myths that you may have heard about:6, 7,8

Being overweight automatically gives you Type 2 diabetes — While excess weight is typically associated with Type 2 diabetes, this isn’t always the case. Other risk factors such as a sedentary lifestyle and high blood pressure can greatly contribute to the formation of the disease.

Diabetics can’t eat sugar — While it’s true that diabetes is tied to high blood sugar levels, many of the healthy foods required to reverse the disease (such as fruits and vegetables) contain small amounts of sugar due to their carb content.

The real culprit is excess sugar consumption that contributes to the symptoms and health complications associated with diabetes.

You can only get type 2 diabetes when you’re older — Most cases of Type 2 diabetes occur in people over the age of 45, but it’s possible for the disease to appear in children, adolescents and young adults.

Type 2 diabetes is not that serious — While many people affected with Type 2 diabetes can live relatively normal lives, that doesn’t mean the disease should not be taken seriously. On the contrary, untreated Type 2 diabetes can lead to a host of complications that can damage your kidneys, nerves or heart.

Diabetes Is Slowly Taking Over the United States

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30.3 million Americans are already diagnosed with diabetes, while 84.1 million more have prediabetes. To make things worse, the disease is slowly increasing among youth.9

It’s important to monitor your health and check if you’re beginning to develop Type 2 diabetes. Signs such as a slow-healing wound, numbness or tingling in your feet, fatigue, extreme thirst and frequent urination should warrant a visit to the doctor immediately. Early diagnosis can help you prevent developing health complications in the long run.10

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