Bottle First Bottle of Aspirin
Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid,
is a derivative of salicylic acid that is a mild, nonnarcotic analgesic
useful in the relief of headache and muscle and joint aches. The drug works
by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, body chemicals that are
necessary for blood clotting and which also sensitize nerve endings to
The father of modern medicine was
who lived sometime between 460 B.C and 377 B.C. Hippocrates was left historical
records of pain relief treatments, including the use of powder made from
the bark and leaves of the willow tree to help heal headaches, pains and
By 1829, scientists discovered that
it was the compound called salicin in willow plants which gave you
the pain relief.
According to "From A Miracle Drug"
written by Sophie Jourdier for the Royal Society of Chemistry: "It was
not long before the active ingredient in willow bark was isolated; in 1828,
Buchner, professor of pharmacy at the University of Munich, isolated
a tiny amount of bitter tasting yellow, needle-like crystals, which he
called salicin. Two Italians, Brugnatelli and Fontana, had
in fact already obtained salicin in 1826, but in a highly impure form.
By 1829, [French chemist] Henri Leroux had improved the extraction
procedure to obtain about 30g from 1.5kg of bark. In 1838, Raffaele
Piria [an Italian chemist] then working at the Sorbonne in Paris, split
salicin into a sugar and an aromatic component (salicylaldehyde) and converted
the latter, by hydrolysis and oxidation, to an acid of crystallised colourless
needles, which he named salicylic acid."
Henri Leroux had extracted
salicin, in crystalline form for the first time, and Raffaele Piria
succeeded in obtaining the salicylic acid in its pure state.
The problem was that salicylic acid
was tough on stomachs and a means of 'buffering' the compound was searched
for. The first person to do so was a French chemist named Charles Frederic
Gerhardt. In 1853, Gerhardt neutralized salicylic acid by buffering
it with sodium (sodium salicylate) and acetyl chloride, creating acetylsalicylic
acid. Gerhardt's product worked but he had no desire to market it and abandoned
1899, a German chemist named Felix Hoffmann, who worked for a German
company called Bayer,
rediscovered Gerhardt's formula. Felix Hoffmann made some of the formula
and gave it to his father who was suffering from the pain of arthritis.
With good results, Felix Hoffmann then convinced Bayer to market the new
wonder drug. Aspirin was patented on March 6, 1889.
The folks at Bayer came up with the
name Aspirin, it comes from the 'A" in acetyl chloride, the "spir" in spiraea
ulmaria (the plant they derived the salicylic acid from) and the 'in' was
a then familiar name ending for medicines.
Aspirin was first sold as a powder.
In 1915, the first Aspirin tablets were made. Interestingly, Aspirin ®
and Heroin ® were once trademarks belonging to Bayer. After Germany
lost World War I, Bayer was forced to give up both trademarks as part of
the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
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Photos provided By Bayer Aspirin