The History of Oral Rehydration Therapy

Oral Rehydration Therapy is probably not a phrase you’ve heard very often unless you’re a doctor or a hydration nerd (like all of us at Nuun). In its most basic form, an ORT formula consists of water with sugar and salt. This solution is consumed orally (hence the name) as a treatment for dehydration. Previous to the innovation of ORT, intravenous fluid replacement was the go-to treatment for rehydrating the dehydrated. This method was time-consuming, complicated, and difficult to do in places lacking proper resources and medical professionals. In the early 20th century, many places experienced cholera outbreaks which caused severe diarrhea. Those afflicted would often die from dehydration as a result of this illness.

In 1957 an Indian physician, Hemendra Nath Chatterjee was the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of ORT as an alternate to IV fluid replacement for patients with severe diarrhea. This research laid the groundwork for the eventual adoption of ORT in cases of mild to severe dehydration because it can be made with common ingredients, prepared and administered by family members or caretakers—not just doctors or nurses.

In 1978 the World Health Organization started the global diarrheal diseases control program with ORT as a core strategy to reduce mortality due to diarrhea. Since then, the WHO has studied and refined the exact ratio of sugar to salts (electrolytes) which best works to relieve dehydration. Overall it is estimated that ORT has decreased the risk of death by diarrhea related dehydration by 93%. Even in cases where dehydration is not caused by diarrhea, ORT is often a faster, more convenient solution for rehydration.         

The new Nuun Instant formula is based on the WHO’s guidelines for ORT. We combined their tried-and-true tested knowledge with the latest in sports hydration science to create a rapidly rehydrating powder formula which hydrates the body 2-3X faster than water. So, no matter the cause of your dehydration you have a convenient, easy way to rehydrate FAST.  

Want to learn more about the science involved in the Nuun Instant’s proprietary formulation? Check out this additional blog post!  

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