2.1 - Aspirin - history and general

History I - The willow bark [1,2,3]

Natural extracts containing salicylate have been used as natural remedies for pain and fever for over 2400 years. Hippocrates (460 to 375 BC) used extracts from willow bark as pain relievers, among others. compiled collection of medical writings, willow bark is already mentioned in writing as a remedy for pain and fever.

In the centuries that followed, there were repeated references to the use of extracts from plants containing salicylates such as willow, poplar, beech and meadowsweet.

  • Caius Plinius Secundus (23 to 79 AD) used infusions made from poplar bark for sciatica and the juice from willow bark as a diuretic.
  • Around 100 AD. the Greek doctor describes Dioscorides willow bark as an anti-inflammatory agent (anti-inflammatory agent).
  • The willow bark was almost forgotten until it was rediscovered in the 18th century by the Reverend Edward Stone of Oxfordshire. At the time, malaria was widespread in England. The only available antipyretic agent (antipyretic) was quinine (today it is known that quinine intervenes directly in the life cycle of the malaria pathogens and thus, above all, the causal treatment of the disease leads to a lowering of the fever). But quinine was becoming increasingly scarce and expensive because it was obtained from the cinchona bark, which had to be imported from South America. The Reverend Stone found that the bark of the local willow had a bitter taste similar to that of the cinchona tree. Between 1757 and 1763 he tested the effects of willow bark on around 50 malaria patients. The very good antipyretic (antipyretic) properties that willow bark had shown in these experiments, he described in 1763 in a letter to the Royal Society of Medicine.

Despite these findings regarding the analgesic (pain-relieving) and antipyretic effects of the domestic willow bark, it was initially unable to replace the established drugs quinine for fever and opium for pain. In the 19th century, however, the willow bark gained significantly in importance. As a result of the continental blockade by Napoleon (1806 AD), cinchona bark became even more difficult to obtain in Europe and the prices of chinin exploded. In addition, the dangers of opium addiction became more and more evident in the early 1920s. The willow bark then experienced a renaissance as a natural remedy.

Of the 40 opium alkaloids, three of the most important in terms of quantity are morphine, codeine and narcotine


Brown, T .; Dronsfield, A .; Ellis, P .; Parker, J. (1998):Aspirin - how does it know where to go?. In: Educ. Chem.. , 47-49
Jourdier, S. (1999):A miracle drug. In: Chem. Br.. , 33-35
Kuhnert, N. (2000):Kuhnert, N., One Hundred Years of AspirinĀ® - The History of Probably the Most Successful Drug of the Last Century. In: Pharm of our time. 29, 32-39
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