Aspirin or acetylsalicylic is the go to drug used for reducing fever, relieving mild to moderate pain form
muscle aches, toothaches, common cold or headaches. It can literally be found in almost every household,
be it urban or rural.

The advances in medical sciences over the past 100 years, and the ready availability of drugs from drug stores
in literally every population center, we have somewhat, taken for granted, the importance Aspirin in our daily lives.
But today, we will find out how this miracle drug called Aspirin was discovered and it’s brief history,

“When a wound is inflamed… draw the heat out using leaves of the willow
The Ebers Papyrus c. 1550 BC.

The Ebers Papyrus (c. 1550 BC) from Ancient Egypt

4000 years ago the ancient Sumerians made an interesting discovery; if they scrapped the bark of a
particular kind of tree and ate it, their pain disappeared. They had no idea that one day this act
will influence the future course of medicine. What the Sumerians had discovered was effectively the
precursor to the tablet known as Aspirin.

Aspirin’s active ingredients are commonly found in willow trees. The probable reason as to why it
heavily influenced the medical traditions of ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, Sumer (southern Iraq)
and other ancient cultures.

Around 400 BC, Hippocrates, thought of as the father of modern medicine, recommended chewing
willow bark to relieve pain and to drink willow leaf tea to ease the pain of child birth, It took humans a
further 2000 years to fully appreciate the benefits of willow tree.

In the mid 18th century, an Englishman named Edward Stone, ran five years of experiments,
demonstrating that willow bark,crushed into a powder and eaten, can cure a fever.

Fast forward a further 70 years, in 1828,  a German pharmacist named Johann Buchner finally identified and purified
the substance that later came to be known as Aspirin, Compound discovered by Buchner was called Salicin, during that
period doctors were using willow bark and other Salicin rich plants as a pain killer, to cure fever, and inflammation.

In 1897, pharmaceutical company named Bayer, first started selling the compound as a pain reliever
using the name Aspirin. The company was owned by German named Felix Hoffmann. This was widely
recognized as the first synthetic pharmaceutical drug.

Contrary to popular belief Aspirin is not just used to relieve pain, it is also used for the following inflammatory disorders,

  • Pericarditis
    Inflammation of the pericardium,
    which are two thin layer of a sac-like tissue that surround the heart.
  • Kawasaki Disease
    Inflammation in the walls of medium sized arteries throughout the body.

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