For thousands of years, willow bark and leaves have been used to relieve pain and fever. This remedy contained salicin, a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory substance.  Then, more than over 100 years ago, the active ingredient in Aspirin®, acetylsalicylic acid, often called ASA, was discovered and formulated by Bayer ...

A Bit of History
1899 Aspirin Bottle First Bottle of Aspirin
The father of modern medicine was Hippocrates, 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 fevers.

By 1829, scientists discovereda that it was the compound called salicin in willow plants which gave you the pain relief.

It was not long before the active ingredient in willow bark was isolated; in 1828, Johann 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 Lleroux 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 Llerouxhad 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 Ffredric 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 his discovery.

In 1897, A German chemist named Felix Hoffman , who worked for a German company called Bayer, rediscovered Gerhardt's formula. He was searching for a treatment for his father's arthritic pain and began to research acetylsalicylic acid, which worked well for arthritis pain.

He produced the first stable form of the compound and 2 years later, acetylsalicylic acid, was launched in Germany under the brand name Aspirin®. 

It wasn't until the 1970s, however, that researchers first discovered how ASPIRIN® relieved pain so effectively. They learned that ASPIRIN® inhibited prostaglandins, substances involved in the pain response. This anti-inflammatory action helps to make ASPIRIN® so effective in relieving headache, back pain, muscle aches and joint pain, and also in relieving pain and fever due to cold and flu.

The Many Uses Of Aspirin:
  • Give dead car battery a boost!  Ugh!  Your good mood quickly soured when you turned the key in the ignition and your old but (usually) trusty car wouldn't start.  since roadside assistance could take awhile, reach for the aspirin bottle in your purse and drop two tablets into the faulty battery.  The acetylsalicylic acid in the pain killer will react with the battery's sulfuric acid to produce a strong enough charge to start your car.  You'll be on your way in no time!
  • Patch up pinholed walls with easeThe good news?  Your daughter has finally outgrown her poster phase.. The bad news?  Instead of teen idols covering her white bedroom walls, it's tiny pinholes.  To disguise the telltale puncture marks without having to spackle and paint, try this:  In a small bowl, crush three aspirin tablets into a fine powder, then add two drops of water.  Stir until blended.  Using a plastic spoon, apply the mixture to the problem spots and smooth with the back of the spoon.  The thick paste will fill in and seal the holes, making them barely noticeable.
  • Lift stubborn sweat stains effortlesslyDon't retire that T-shirt with the yellow-stained armpits just yet.  Simply place five aspirin tablets under running water to soften them, then smooth the pills over the tint.  Leave on overnight and rinse with hot water in the morning.  The salicylic acid in aspirin will loosen the sweat, dirt and antiperspirant residue that cause discoloration.  Your garment will look like new!
  • Restore and refresh faded highlights!  Weekend trips to the pool have left your highlighted tresses with a greenish hue.  Instead of making an appointment at the salon for a touch-up, try this at-home fix:  Mash one aspirin tablet and add it to a bottle of shampoo, then wash hair as usual.  The salicylic acid in aspirin will dissolve the chlorine buildup (a major cause of brassiness), restoring your mane's shine in a single wash.
  • Soothe a scratchy throat fastDancing and belting out your favorite songs at the Bruce Springsteen concert last night made you feel like a teenager again.  (Ahh, the 'glory days.")  But the morning after the show, you're singing a different tune - with a very sore throat.  To help ease the discomfort, dissolve one aspirin tablet in a glass of water.  Gargle with the solution for  10 to 15 seconds, then swallow.  Repeat the following day, if needed.  The acetylsalicylic acid in the medicine will penetrate the inflamed throat tissue to quickly numb the pain and reduce swelling.  Now, about those ringing ears....
  • Eliminate bug-bite itch - statJust when you thought mosquito season was over, you go to your daughter's field hockey game only to come home with tiny ankle bites.  To soothe the itch, moisten the affected area of your skin, then rub an aspirin tablet over the bumps.  The pill's anti-inflammatory agents will seep into the sores, reducing swelling and discomfort.
  • Minimize pores in just minutesTo get rid of a pimple, simply crush an aspirin tablet in a dish and add enough water to form a paste.  Apply the mixture to the blemish and leave on overnight.  Aspirin restricts the production of prostaglandins (unsaturated fatty acids secreted by cells that cause inflammation) while easing irritation.  The result?  Perfectly clear skin.
  • Soften callused heels in a pinchYour new slingbacks: sexy.  Your exposed heels:  not so much.  to put your best foot forward, mix 1 Tbs. of lemon juice with five crushed aspirin tablets.  Apply the blend to your calluses and cover with a plastic bag.  Leave on for 10 minutes, then remove and rinse with warm water.  The combination of the acids in both lemon juice and aspirin will exfoliate the rough layer of dead skin cells to reveal soft, smooth - and yes, sexy - heels.
  • Double the life of cut flowers!  The thing you'll miss the most about the warm summer months?  The way a bouquet of pink coneflowers from your garden brightens up any room.  to make the flowers last longer, drop two aspirin tablets into the water-filled vase before adding the freshly cut blooms.   The H2O is a breeding ground for bacteria, which causes blossoms to wilt before their time.  Enter aspirin:  It decreases the pH level of the liquid, which makes it inhospitable to the tiny organisms, ensuring the water and the bouquet will stay fresh longer.
  • Wipe awasy pesky rust marksTired of those hard-to-clean orange rings left behind by your husband's shaving-cream cans?  To remove them from your otherwise-spotless bathroom countertop, wet the area, then smash an aspirin tablet and sprinkle it on the mark.  Let sit for 10 minutes before rubbing with a damp sponge.  The acidic components in the pain reliever will loosen the iron oxide particles, while the abrasive quality of the powder will help scrub off any stuck-on grit.
  • Fungal infections on soil is one problem some gardeners face. It can be beneficial to use aspirin. Dissolve an aspirin tablet in a liter of water and sprinkle the mixture on the affected soil. Although this will fix the problem, care should be taken to not to make the mixture too strong if using around plants, as it may burn the leaves.
  • Having dandruff problems? Powder two aspirin tablets and mix it with your usual shampoo. Leave on the hair for two or three minutes before washing.
  • If you are a smoker, certainly you will have nicotine stains on your fingers. To remove them, take a soluble aspirin and mix it thoroughly with some freshly squeezed lemon juice. This mixture will remove nicotine stains, grass stains, etc from hands.
  • aspirin art
  • Unconventional Ornament – Dilute a couple of aspirins in water. The week after, add another aspirin to the mix. Continue adding aspirin after every days until crystal-like figures form within the mixture. Eventually, the aspirin crystals will grow and form a nice piece of modern art.

Did You Know...
  • The letter “A” stands for Acetyl, which is the remaining portion of acetic acid in the molecule of the product’s active ingredient, acetylsalicylic acid. The next syllable,“spir”, is derived from the plant known as Spirea ulmaria, which yields salicin, a sugar combination of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is the base product from which acetylsalicylic acid is extracted. The ending, “in”, was a common suffix used for drugs at the time of the very first stable synthesis of acetylsalicylic acid by Felix Hoffmann in 1897.
  • Aspirin was patented on February 27, 1900.
  • 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.
  • Aspirin has done miracles in the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.
  • Generic version of Aspirin flooded American market after Bayer’s American patent of Aspirin expired in 1917. Aspirin continued to be the king of analgesics for half century until it lost the war to advanced analgesics like paracetamol, which was introduced in 1956 and ibuprofen introduced in 1969.  But to amaze us all aspirin is back with a bang to repeat history and this time for a new indication as an anti-clotting agent. It is used for prophylaxis of stroke and heart attack. Aspirin effect on blood clotting was first observed in 1950 by Lawrence Craven, a family doctor in California. His worked was revived in 1960. Through many clinical trials finally the anti-clotting property of Aspirin was established.

Resource(s):  inventors.about.com/, First for women Magazine, Sep.14/09 Issue, Pg. 90, aspirn.com/, aspirnforpain.ca/hubpages.com/, pharmainfo.net/, ideafinder.com/
Main-Photo credit:  jillwatson

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