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A Brief History of Aspirin

I'd always heard that European settlers of America had learned about the pain relieving effect of willow bark from the Native Americans. Turns out the ancient Egyptians were chewing willow bark and passing on their knowledge long before. Still and all, the Europeans might have learned from the Native Americans, since aspirin didn't become popular in Europe until 1763.

Edward Stone, a British clergyman, is given credit for using and sharing willow bark with his parishioners -relieving many cases of rheumatic fever in the process. It took about 100 years before someone figured out how to synthesize salicin, the raw ingredient in aspirin, in the lab. Charles Gerhardt created acetylsalicylic acid, the synth form of salicin. But it was Felix Hoffman, a German scientist working for Bayer Industries, who followed Gerhardt's process 40 years later (1897) and took the credit. It was the first mass-marketed drug, introduced in 1899.

Better than chewing bark, the tablets caught on quickly. People have different ideas on how to take them though. The Brits dissolve theirs in water. The Americans swallow theirs whole. While the French. . .are French. They prefer them as suppositories. Talk about a pain in the. . . Reminds me of my ex.

Thanks mostly to radio jingles sung by Eva PerĂ³n -future First Lady- in the mid-1940s, Argentina became the largest per-capita consumer of aspirin in the world.

Until the 1970s, no one was even sure how aspirin worked. British scientist John Vane cleared that up, showing that aspirin reduces the production of prostaglandins -fatty acids that cause swelling- in the body. Your body produces its own aspirin when you get enough benzoic acid, from foods such as fruits and vegetables. One more reason to eat healthy.

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Steven Farris is a prisoner who has been incarcerated since a month after his 16th birthday in 1998. Currently serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole, he is seeking to educate the public about the true nature of prison and the widespread and negative effects of the prison industrial complex. Steven has worked with both the National Prison Project of the ACLU, as well as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in furthering this effort.

You can contact him directly at:
Steven Farris #R5580
P.O. Box 1889
Woodville, MS 39669-1889

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