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October 13, 1945


JAMA. 1945;129(7):519. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860410035012

Inulin, a vegetable starch consisting of polymerized fructose molecules, has appeared in various roles in human biology. The American Indians used roots and tubers containing inulin as a foodstuff; after the discovery of America these were for some time competitors of the potato in Europe. With the final displacement of the Jerusalem artichoke by the potato in agriculture the interest in vegetables containing inulin vanished for many years. Toward the end of the last century they were recommended as substitutes for ordinary starch and sugar in the dietary control of diabetes mellitus. However, when it was shown that the human body does not possess any efficient mechanism for metabolization of this type of starch, the medicinal interest in inulin waned. It reappeared in 1935 on the discovery that inulin parenterally introduced is excreted exclusively through the glomeruli.1 Inulin clearance tests have been used since then in clinical and experimental