How aspirin was discovered – Krishna Sudhir

How aspirin was discovered – Krishna Sudhir

4,000 years ago, the ancient Sumerians
made a surprising discovery. If they scraped the bark
off a particular kind of tree and ate it, their pain disappeared. Little did they know that why they’d found was destined to influence
the future course of medicine. What the Sumerians had discovered was
a precursor to the medicine known today as aspirin. Aspirin’s active ingredient is found
commonly in willow trees and other wild plants, which is how it came to infuse
the medical traditions of Sumer, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and other cultures. Around 400 BC, Hippocrates, thought
of as the father of modern medicine, first recommended chewing willow bark
for pain relief and making willow leaf tea
to ease the pain of childbirth. But it took over 2,000 years for us to
comprehensively investigate its potential. In the mid-18th century, an Englishman named Edward Stone
ran five years of experiments, showing that willow bark crushed
into a powder and eaten could cure a fever. It took nearly another 70 years
for a German pharmacist, Johann Buchner, to finally identify and purify
the substance that made all this possible, a compound called salicin. By then, doctors were routinely
using willow bark and other salicin-rich plants,
like the herb meadowsweet, to ease pain, fever, and inflammation. But identifying the exact compound
suddenly opened up the possibility of manipulating its form. In 1853, a French chemist managed
to chemically synthesize the compound, creating a substance called
acetylsalicylic acid. Then in 1897, the pharmaceutical company
Bayer found a new method and began marketing the compound
as a pain reliever called aspirin. This was widely recognized as one of
the first synthetic pharmaceutical drugs. Originally, aspirin was
just Bayer’s brand name: A for acetyl, and spir for meadowsweet, whose botanical name is
Spiraea ulmaria. Soon, aspirin became synonymous with
acetylsalicylic acid. As its influence grew, aspirin was found
to ease not just pain, but also many
inflammation-related problems, like rheumatoid arthritis, pericarditis, which enflames
the fluid-filled sack around the heart, and Kawasaki disease, where blood vessels become inflamed. Yet, despite aspirin’s medical value, at this point, scientists still didn’t
actually know how it worked. In the 1960s and 70s, Swedish
and British scientists changed that. They showed that the drug interrupts
the production of certain chemicals called prostaglandins, which control the transmission
of pain sensations and inflammation. In 1982, that discovery won
the researchers a Nobel Prize in Medicine. Over time, research has also uncovered
aspirin’s risks. Overconsumption can cause bleeding
in the intestines and the brain. It can also trigger Reye’s Syndrome, a rare but often fatal illness
that affects the brain and liver in children with an infection. And in the late 20th century, aspirin’s success had been overshadowed
by newer pain killers with fewer side effects, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. But in the 1980s, further discoveries
about aspirin’s benefits revived interest in it. In fact, the 1982 Nobel Prize winners
also demonstrated that aspirin slows production
of thromboxanes, chemicals that cause clumping
of platelets, which in turn form blood clots. A landmark clinical trial showed that
aspirin reduced heart attack risk by 44% in participants who took the drug. Today, we prescribe it to people
at risk of heart attack or stroke because it cuts the likelihood of clots
forming in the arteries that supply the heart and brain. Even more intriguingly, there’s a growing body of research
that suggests aspirin reduces the risk of getting
and dying from cancer, especially colorectal cancer. This might be due to aspirin’s
anti-platelet effects. By reducing platelet activity, aspirin may
decrease the levels of a certain protein that helps cancer cells spread. These discoveries have transformed aspirin
from a mere pain reliever to a potentially life-saving treatment. Today, we consume about 100 billion
aspirin tablets each year, and researchers continue searching
for new applications. Already, aspirin’s versatility
has transformed modern medicine, which is astounding considering
its humble beginnings in a scraping of willow bark.

100 comments on “How aspirin was discovered – Krishna Sudhir

  1. Tânia Cardoso Post author

    I cannot take aspirin, I have ITP, so very low platelets to begin with. Aspirin just makes it worse….

  2. Cypher791 Post author

    so humans ate everything… some people felt better… some people felt worse.. some people felt nothing, and some people died… and that is how we discover stuff.

  3. Balsey Dean De Witt, Jr. Post author

    Krishna, what is that? Ain't American! Tell ya what, The Willow Tree is what aspirin is from!

  4. Cyberian Deprochan Post author

    Actually this is amazingly effective. I have just typed the word ASPIRIN and revived countless times.

  5. Gene Clark Post author

    At least 2 misstatements here: Aspirin doesn't make pain "disappear," nor does it "cure" a fever. It may reduce both.

  6. Gut Eater Post author

    You know , this is very high quality educational video , even with no music , fast talking or interesting animation(im not a fan of the artstyle but its still good) , the video still gets my attention and not boring at all .

  7. 1CBRDUDE Post author

    And then there was big pharmaceutical that makes a toxic chemical Not from a tree which is safe . Aspirin destroys red blood cells and is dangerous

  8. African Electron Post author

    Paracetamol does allmost nothing for inflammation just helps with pain, also it can fry your liver splendidly.
    Ibuprofen eats your stomach lining and increases your chances of heart attack.
    By comparison aspirin is far safer.
    Also aspirin is a super stable molecule the for batch of aspirin ever made if stored away from sunlight and moisture is probably just as good as the day it was made.

  9. cesar leon Post author

    Also Aspirin is really really bad in case you have a headache on rain season in the caribe, because it can be Dengue, if you have Dengue and take aspirin, you can make Dengue to evolve on hemorragic Dengue which can be fatal.

  10. ep1phany62 Post author

    You missed the side effect that it inhibits the mucus producing cells in the stomach. (Or I missed you saying it)

  11. mike89128 Post author

    Sumerians also discovered opium and referred to it as the "Joy Plant" for pain. Colchicine is over 5, 000 years old, used for gout.

  12. Bitchy_ Bitch! Post author

    When i was a kid in grade school, i once ( and more) tried eating yard grass in the front yard. I MADE A COOL DISCOVERY! Pesticides taste awful, and make you feel awful, when you eat them. ?

  13. Andy Macrae Post author

    There is no such thing as side affects only affects. Either desired or undesired. " Side affects"is a sales spin term.

  14. Spanky Harland Post author

    desperation is the mother of inventions and in some cases discovery….my head hurts so bad, I am so desperate to scrape the bark off that tree and chew it….hey…it works…pain gone !

  15. soylentgreenb Post author

    Acetaminophen is completely ineffective and worthless. Doesn’t do anything in me or anyone I know. Aspirin is very effective.

  16. Uriel Septim Post author

    Good but bad for the heart if taken more than you should by doctors. Go for Tylenol 8hrs. Yeah!

  17. Luther Morgan Post author

    Leaves fell into a Roman hot bath and the water was thought to have soothing property.
    It took a little while to figure out it was the leaves and not the water.
    Be careful about what you see on ut.

  18. James oppy Post author

    I, though millennia more evolved than the Sumarians, also randomly eat stuff I find find the trail. Just found out my local Dodder is great!

  19. Byron Gonzalez Post author

    Don't think it was a suprise to the early people of the world they were much more advanced in basic knowledge of the body world and God

  20. Stephen Stone Post author

    That's why it was necessary for our species to go through the hunter-gatherer period. Took some " time" to sample and identify everything. Still working on it in fact.

  21. micah_lee Post author

    Don’t downplay the sumerians, they may have created the wheel and also a lot of other things.

  22. Russell Billedeaux Post author

    They forgot the American Indian they knew and used willow bark centuries before the advent of the whites.

  23. ruru_ esco Post author

    I rather eat the tree bark like they did back in the ancient times then take all this synthetic bs they give us nowadays?

  24. sincerely, your pal Post author

    It is sad that we humans, haphazardly jump into creating harmful chemicals like aspirin when all that is needed is provided for us by mother earth in safe forms.

  25. TUPPLES 2 Post author

    Think it’s funny that pharmaceutical drugs kill people but they’re all made from like trees anyway. Complete mindfuck I’m too baked

  26. makeminefreedom Post author

    There is a reason doctors say take 3 aspirins and call me in the morning. I have never been a fan of designer pain killers like Tylenol. When I get a headache or a fever I take aspirin.

  27. Ben Jones Post author

    On a Wednesday In 1965 my 13 year old first cousin Janice thought she might be coming down with the flu so her mother, my Aunt Norma, gave her two aspirin which was the only OTC pain killer at the time. Three days later Janice died. An autopsy was inconclusive. Several years later Dr. Douglas Reye called Aunt Norma wanting to know the particulars of her daughters death. Several years later the syndrome was named after Dr. Reye. Janice's death was one of several thousand studied to show the relationship between aspirin use on children and young teens. It is unknown why Reye's Syndrome kills.

  28. O.G. R/H Post author

    Now were in the age where we don’t discover anything new that is natural… pharmaceuticals have taken over. So to discover something that is new would take about 2000 years. They want us to take what they have already available… synthetics! It’s all here but there’s no money in a cure. Notice the attack on cigarettes but nobody ever talks about plastic in the microwave! Think about these things, think deeply!

  29. Super BottleBros Post author

    hmmmm….. if somebody ate something random and it became on of the greatest discoveries ever…….then……IMA DRINK SOME BLEACH AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!!!!

    two weeks later


  30. Raheemah Nitoto Post author

    Notice how women are completely missing from this history. Women were the herb gatherers and healers that initially found many of the herbal compounds that we now use in Pharmaceuticals including willow bark and meadowsweet.

    It should be noted that cheese traditional female healers has specific methodology for testing plants to make sure that they safe to eat, safe dosage is if they could be used as medicine and the best way to ingest them, in this case drinking them in a tea.

    You can still find Apothecary shops that Supply willow bark and other medicinal herbs.

  31. Liran Barsisa Post author

    I just don't get it.
    People just ate random stuff to ease the pain? How many did they try to get it?
    Weren't they scared one of those stuff could make it worse, or even kill them?


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