Saturday, January 06, 2007

One of the oldest drugs

Besides alcohol, which may have been invented before bread, aspirin seems to be one of the oldest drugs to be continually used by human beings.

Aspirin has been used since the times of Ancient Greece in the form of willow bark and leaves. The willow trees contain a chemical called salicin which relieves pain and fever. Hippocrates (circa 460 B.C.E and 377 B.C.E) prescribed aspirin for pain, fever and headaches.

It wasn't until the early 1800's that the chemical compound, salicylic acid (SA), was isolated. Later, in 1897, a chemist created a stable, synthetic version of salicylic acid which is known as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). His name was Felix Hoffmann, and he worked at Bayer, Germany.

The name "aspirin" is a compound word where 'a' stands for ASA, 'spir' from the spirea plant which also has a lot of salicin, and 'in' to indicate that the product is a drug.

Sources: Aspirin History, History of Aspirin

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