Historical Events

Captain Meredith is cured of diabetes on Rollo's meat diet. The simplified therapy is thought to be animal food.

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Diabetes Its Medical and Cultural History

John Rollo

Captain Meredith began the above treatment on Oct. 19, 1796. Two days later the quantity of urine passed in twenty-four hours had fallen from seven or eight quarts to six quarts. By November 1 the quantity did not exceed four quarts and on November 4 "he drank only three pints of water, and made only two quarts of urine, which to him and his servants (who had been in the habit of tasting his urine from curiosity) was not sweet." As time went on, the opium at bedtime was discontinued and the rubbing with hog's lard was left off. The latter was found to be a "troublesome and disagreeable" part of the treatment. Rollo decided to simplify therapy to include those features which were considered really essential: animal food, confinement with limitation of activity, and hepatized ammonia. The hepatized ammonia (ammonium sulphide) was used in place of "kali sulphuratum," originally prescribed, with the thought that it might be "a more certain and active medicine than the other on the stomach, in diminishing its action." 


Captain Meredith was directed to keep notes regarding his symptoms, diet, medication and progress of his illness. He did this quite faithfully, recording his transgressions as well as his attempts at cooperation. When at times he indulged in apples, bread and beer, Rollo found it necessary "to point out in stronger language the impropriety of such deviations." By December 30 the patient was free from abnormal thirst and polyuria, was regaining some of his lost weight and felt well. Continuation of treatment with a somewhat more liberal allowance of bread in the diet was prescribed.

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