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02-Mar-2018 14:18

In 1817, Friedrich Sertürner published his success at isolating pure morphine from opium after 13 years of research and one notable, nearly catastrophic trial on himself and three young men. Morphine marked the first instance of a pharmaceutical isolated from a natural product (Huxtable and Schwarz 2001). Then Hippocrates advocated opium’s use for treating female diseases, internal diseases and epidemics. Western Journal of Medicine [Online], 133(4), 367-370.

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Opium is a gift and curse to modern mankind for its contributions of morphine and heroin, the former being the gold standard of analgesics, and the latter a notorious and deadly recreational drug. Overshadowed by its negative connotations, opium and its legacy prove to be a benefit to mankind for its millennia of medical use on a global scale.

Greeks also extracted the juice by boiling the plant for poppy tea and made tablets by crushing the plant in a mortar and pestle. C., Alexander the Great introduced opium to India and Persia (Kritikos and Papadaki 1967). American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education [Online], 56, 186-194.

The Greek empire’s acceptance of opium predetermined Western medicine’s acceptance of opium, as Western medicine takes large cues from the Hippocratic School of medicine.

Avicenna spread this declaration in his 14-volume medical encyclopedia called The Canon of Medicine, a work translated into Latin and many other languages, and held in high regards up to the 1500s (Smith 1980).

Opium’s spreading reputation as the ultimate stupefying drug, of the time can be interpreted for better or worse, depending on its use.

Egyptians also soaked sponges in opium for surgery purposes (1993).