By Diarmuid Jeffreys
Aspirin is a drug so astonishingly flexible that it might probably relieve your headache, ease your aching limbs, reduce your temperature, and deal with a few of the deadliest human ailments, fighting every little thing from middle assaults to melanoma to strokes. And the background of the drug is simply as surprising.
Rich in dramatic twists and discoveries, the tale of aspirin starts in old Egypt, and embraces wars, epidemics, espionage, an Oxfordshire vicar, a forgotten Jewish scientist, the commercial Revolution, a standard tree, the Treaty of Versailles, the world's strongest pharmaceutical businesses, Auschwitz, a mercurial ads genius, and masses extra. Bringing alive a compelling forged of characters in a blinding trip throughout centuries, the writer unearths how likelihood and layout introduced the drug into being as we all know it on the finish of the 19th century, and the way intrigue, greed, and ambition mixed to make aspirin the most commercially profitable items of all time.
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Extra info for Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug
Willow is one of the ingredients — others are figs, beer and dates — in a treatment taken orally to 'cause the heart to receive bread'. Again, no one is quite sure what this phrase means but it has been suggested that it refers to a general pick-me-up remedy, a kind of medicinal drink for non-specific aches and pains. Presumably the willow ingredient would have come from a dried and ground-up version of the bark or leaves, which was then added to the fluid. The next two references are to willow's use as an ingredient in externally applied salves - for ear infection and for making the met supple.
As this tree delights in a moist or wet soil, where agues chiefly abound, the general maxim, that many natural maladies carry their cures along with them, or that their remedies lie not far from their causes, was so very apposite to this particular case, that I could not help applying it; and that this might be the intention of Providence here I must own had some little weight with me. As his spidery handwriting filled the page, his thoughts drifted back to that moment, five years before, when Providence had guided his actions.
Although both documents are remarkable because of what they reveal about the ancient Egyptians' practice of medicine, it is the Ebers Papyrus that occupies the central place in this story. At 110 pages, it is by far the longest and most comprehensive medical papyrus ever recovered and studied by Egyptologists. It is also very dense. As is often the case with such documents, there is writing on both sides; papyrus was expensive at the time and scribes who wrote to order for cost-conscious masters were loath to waste any of it.
Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug by Diarmuid Jeffreys