One Of The Original Ads
Aspirin was invented by the German company Bayer in the 1890’s. The chemical name is interestingly called acetylsalicylic acid. That’s because salicylic acid has been in use since 450 BC for fever, headache and pain.
Looks Like My Organic Chemistry Teacher
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, wrote about this chemical for the treatment of disease. Greek medicine men would use the bark of the willow tree which contained salicylic acid to make teas and dry powders for sick patients. Bayer’s claim to fame was adding the acetyl group to salicylic acid. It made it a much stronger medication. The downside of the addition was an increased risk for stomach upset especially in higher doses. Aspirin with chronic use slowly breaks down the protective layer of the stomach. This leads to blood loss which may result in anemia and stomach/intestinal erosion which leads to ulcers.
He’s A Very Inquisitive Fellow
How does aspirin or any medication for pain know to go to the area of pain? It doesn’t have any idea where the pain is actually coming from whether it be an ankle, toe, back, etc. Pain medication floods your entire system going into every cell throughout the body. The cells that have the pain are producing a chemical that aspirin will block for a period of time. After that pain-free time is over, which is called the duration of the drug’s effects, then the medication must be re-dosed. In the case of aspirin, the inflammation is usually relieved for about 4-6 hours per dose.
If aspirin were invented today, it would be a prescription drug. It is a powerful, relatively safe and an inexpensive medication. Aspirin is part of a group of medications called the NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). This means the medication is not a steroidal like prednisone or cortisone and thus doesn’t have the harmful effects of steroids. It neutralizes inflammation by blocking the production of inflammation producing chemicals called prostaglandins. NSAIDs are also non-addicting substances. NSAIDs includes ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) and aspirin. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is not an NSAID.
Bayer lost patent rights to aspirin in 1917. So the generic has been available for almost 100 years. Sales of aspirin plummeted in the 50’s with the introduction of acetaminophen and again in the 60’s with the approval of Motrin. As the decades progressed, there were more anti-inflammatory agents that came out on the over the counter market. The most popular current example is naproxen.
Tylenol’s advantage over NSAIDs is that it doesn’t cause stomach upset. The downside is that the chemical is toxic to the liver. If you take Tylenol either chronically in regular doses or dose it up very high over a short period of time you can end up with cirrhosis. This may result in permanent liver damage that can lead to death. Acetaminophen also has a very low anti-inflammatory effect. So its best used for children and adults to lower temperature. Tylenol is used combination with other ingredients like aspirin and caffeine in products like Excedrin to relieve migraine headaches.
Motrin has a stronger anti-inflammatory effect than aspirin. The negative side of this double-edged sword incurs a higher risk of cardiovascular disorders, namely heart attacks and strokes. The risks increase with chronic or high doses of Motrin.
Naproxen does not have as high of an anti-inflammatory power as Motrin. Therefore it’s a little safer with regards to cardiovascular risks. When using any of these medications take as little as possible and for the shortest duration.
Aspirin is now on its third comeback tour throughout America and the world. Two major discoveries showed the protection that aspirin offers from two separate diseases. It’s a human safety shield that lowers the risk of both cardiovascular disorders and also cancer.
After aspirin’s popularity waned with the introduction of its competitors, intense research in the 80’s and 90’s showed this original Bayer product had positive cardiovascular effects. Studies indicated that aspirin lowered the risk of clotting, which could prevent both heart attacks and strokes. Patients utilize the children’s dose of 81 mg to prevent both primary heart attacks and additional attacks to the heart.
This whole protection process is done with the use of those acetyl groups. When you take an aspirin, it gets absorbed into the body and hands over all of its acetyl groups to the platelets. If the platelets are acetylated, they cannot clump together and form a clot. Aspirin prevents clotting by altering the platelets which drastically lowers risks of heart attack and stroke.
The newest information about aspirin’s safety shield is how it protects from colon cancer. Research published in The Lancet in the Nov. 2010 issue followed over 16,000 patients that took low dose (baby version) aspirin daily for at least 6 years. The results showed a 25% decrease in risk of colon cancer. The longer the subjects took the aspirin beyond 6 years, the lower the incidence of colon cancer.
The Innovator-One Up On Hippocrates
Bayer never knew the full potential of what it created back over 110 years ago. It’s amazing that even today, Bayer is still one of the most popular brand name aspirin tablets on the market.
For your information, aspirin that smells like vinegar is breaking down. Be careful, because this can also be caused by getting moisture in the bottle. Keep aspirin out of the bathroom or kitchen. Store it in the driest areas of your home to ensure its longevity.
More expensive aspirin have a coating that slows down the deterioration of the product. Bayer is one of those companies that produces a superior aspirin. Always look for coupons in the paper and hook it up with a good sale for the best price on aspirin.
Consult with your physician or health care professional to evaluate whether or not you should start on aspirin.