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An ancient Chinese physician, writing in the year 752 C.E., formulated the first known technique for the detection of diabetes. Patients suspected of suffering from the disease were directed to urinate onto a brick and then wait to see whether ants, attracted by the sugar dissolved therein, would gather.
While primitive by today's standards, this early diagnostic procedure recognized the role of sugar in diabetes, known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as "wasting and thirsting disease," and helped to establish the experimental verification of the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine in treating the condition.
In general, Traditional Chinese Medicine understands diabetes to be the result of dietary deficiencies or excesses - too much of some foods, and not enough of others - exacerbating an underlying characteristic of a patient's metabolism. By adjusting dietary intake, and by adopting a sensible program of gentle exercise, such as tai chi or qi gong, a patient can help to prevent the worst effects of diabetes, and can even improve the success of the more conventional Western treatments.