Mr. Leigh Thomas, surgeon: He commenced eating animal food, his common beverage was water and beef tea. After pursuing this plan for days, the urine had entirely lost the sweet taste, and was greatly reduced in quantity. I consider it a favourable one for a trial of the ingenious mode of treatment you have pointed out for the cure of this disease.
August 28, 1797
Cases of the Diabetes Mellitus
From Mr. Leigh Thomas, Surgeon, Leicester Square, London.
I HAVE this morning (August 28, 1797) met with a confirmed cafe of Diabetes Mellitus ; and, as I consider it a favourable one for a trial of the ingenious mode of treatment you have pointed out for the cure of this disease, I shall be happy either to give it up to your entire management, or co-operate in any plan that may be suggested between us. The subject is a very industrious man, aged 38, by trade a watchmaker, much confined to business, and anxiously labouring for the support of a numerous family.
He is much emaciated, and loses strength and weight daily. He showed me a letter from a brother of his, living in Kent, who also complains of pain in the back, and great debility, with an occasional discharge of sweet urine, especially after any fatigue of body, or distress of mind. It appears that three brothers of this family laboured under the disease, but it could not be traced to either of the parents.
Doctor Rollo having seen the patient, and favoured me with directions how to proceed, he very readily agreed to adhere to any rules laid down for his recovery.
Sept. 2, 1797, he commenced eating animal food, and took six or eight drops of hepatifed ammonia thrice a day, with castor oil occasionally; his common beverage was water and beef tea. After pursuing this plan for days, the urine had entirely lost the sweet taste, and was greatly reduced in quantity ; by the 18th he had lost the pain in the stomach, and the appetite became more moderate.
The quantity of urine was now reduced to one pint and a half; he felt very weak ; had a violent longing for vegetable food, particularly bread. I could not resist his solicitations, especially as I had a faint hope that the disease was conquered ; I therefore allowed him a small French roll, with a glass of port wine. The urine made that night was highly impregnated with saccharine matter, and increased to the quantity of five pints. The following day, he again indulged a second time with bread and also porter, and so continued to deviate till the beginning of November, sometimes taking three pints of porter daily. In this interval, I ordered him the cinchona and sulphuric acid. His strength was improved, yet he lost weight. The gnawing pain at the stomach had returned, and also the itching and excoriation of the prepuce, the urine very sweet, and had increased to ten pints. The disease being reproduced, and its effects so considerably increased, the patient promised to be more resolute in future.
Nov. 20th, the animal food was again returned, and, I believe, faithfully adhered to until the middle of February ; the hepatifed ammonia was laid aside ; and milk was torbid, as I had strong reason to believe that it frequently produced sweet urine in the former trial. His strength, at the end of this period, was greatly reduced; the gums spongy, with frequent bleedings, a foetid breath, and a rigidity of the muscles of the lower extremities. The urine had decreased to three pints, not at all sweet, was of a brown colour, and loaded with putrescent mucilage ; in taste exceedingly salt, and much more pungent than urine in a natural state. The appetite was so completely destroyed, that the sight of animal food excited nausea, but, at the same time, there was a longing delire for vegetables and beer. His weight during this time varied something. In November he weighed more than nine stone ; in January, eight and a half; before the end of the course, he regained nine stone.
The excoriation of the prepuce had gone off, but the natural propensities never returned ; the skin became moist, the clamminess of the fauces had disappeared. A great number of boils came out in different parts, which were exceedingly painful ; some few advanced to suppuration, but never afforded true pus. Every diabetic symptom having left him, and his present state being so very distressing, induced me to allow him a small proportion of vegetable food. As we had experienced the ill effects of bread in the former trial, I directed him to eat sparingly of potatoes, and drink weak brandy and water; he drank, also the alum whey. In two days after this, the sweet urine reappeared, and all the other symptoms soon returned. He never after this adhered to any regular plan, only taking vegetable food very sparingly.
About the middle of March, he had a severe attack of pleurisy, which required two bleedings, and other evacuations, to remove it. In April he passed some time in the country, twenty miles from town, where he constantly eat vegetables, and drank large quantities of mild ale; during this time, the urine was sweet only at times. Under these circumstances, he gained four pounds weight in nine days. After his return to town, his strength daily decreased ; the boils frequently appearing, obliged him to lie almost constantly in bed. During the latter part of this period, the urine was very frequently perfectly sour, and that immediately upon passing off, so as to leave no doubt of its being so in the bladder ; the taste and smell very similar to sour whey, but perfectly transparent ; at this time, it was always small in quantity. In the beginning of July, he had another attack of pleurisy, which terminated his sufferings on the morning of the l6th. (He died)
As I have merely given a summary account of the progress of the case, I shall, in like manner, relate the effects of certain vegetables upon the disease, and which came under my own observation, Bread certainly holds the first rank in exciting the formation of saccharine matter ; nor did this appear to depend upon the fermentation it had undergone, as the sea-biscuit, or a teaspoonful of flour in melted Butter, universally produced the same effect ; potatoes flood next ; onions, leeks, radishes, and turnips, also produced much sugar. Preparation by boiling, or otherwise, did not seem to increase or diminish their effects. Spinach, carrots, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower, had each less effect than the former, particularly the two last; parsnips were eaten with impunity. The urine never tasted sweet after taking them ; at first, the urine had a sourish taste and smell, which I attributed to them, but since, it has been perfectly sour, without being able to account for it. Every kind of fruit invariably produced sweet urine, without being able to ascertain any variation in their effects. Of Liquids, porter appeared the most hurtful ; no difference could be observed with regard to the effect of any of the spirituous liquors, wines, or cider; mild ale he considered as having no effect in producing the disease, but of this I can say nothing of my own knowledge, as he only drank it in the country. He was bled five times in the course of the treatment, purposely to examine the blood; in one instance only had the serum a turbid wheyich appearance ; the slightest taste could not at any time discover anything of a saccharine quality. Upon allowing the blood to evaporate in the open air, no putrefaction took place, it became a solid brittle mafs, of a mining appearance when broken. Dissection Twenty-four hours after death, under the directions of Mr. Cruikshank I proceeded to make a careful examination of the viscera.