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A Brief History of Anesthetics

A Brief History of Anesthetics

Anesthetics have been used for thousands of years. In fact, the first recorded use of anesthetics was actually in the 'pre-history' era, an era of human history predating written text.

Early Uses of Herbal Anesthetics

In the pre-history era, anesthetics were herbal in nature. Opium poppies are known to have been harvested as early as 4200 BC, and these plants were farmed first in the Sumerian Empire. The first recorded uses of anesthetics containing opium preparations was in 1500 BC, and by 1100 BC, civilizations in Cyprus and other locations were farming and harvesting the plants.

Opium poppies were introduced to India and China in 330 BC and 600 to 1200 AD, respectively. Other types of herbal anesthetics were in use in China during this era as well. In the second century, the Chinese physician Hua Tuo is known to have used an anesthetic derived from cannabis to perform abdominal surgery.

In Europe, Asia, and the Americas, several other 'solanum' plant species were used as anesthetics, including mandrake, henbane, and several datura species. Each of these contains a potent tropane alkaloid. In the classical Greek and Roman eras, prominent figures such as Hippocrates and Pliny the Elder noted the uses of opium and solanum-containing plants. In the Americas, the leaves of the coca plant (from which cocaine is derived) were an often-used anesthetic. This was applied by Incan shamans who would chew coca leaves and then spit the leaves into wounds to administer a local anesthetic.

Herbal anesthetics of these types were widely used for several centuries; however they were not without drawbacks. One of the main problems with the use of herbal anesthetics was in administering the right dosage-too little would have no effect, and too much often killed the patient. Standardization of anesthetics was difficult, but was achieved to a certain degree prior to the nineteenth century by categorizing anesthetics according to the location in which anesthetic plants were grown.

The Discovery of Morphine

In 1804, a German pharmacist named Friedrich Wilhelm extracted morphine from the opium poppy, and named the compound 'morphium', for the Greek god of sleep and dreams. However, morphine was not widely used for nearly fifty years. In 1853, the hypodermic needle was developed, and thanks to this new method of administration, the use of morphine increased substantially. Morphine was then widely used as an anesthetic.

In 1874, a morphine derivative called diacetylmorphine-commonly known as heroin-was developed. Nearly twice as potent as morphine, heroin was marketed for a short time by Bayer, starting in 1898. However, it was just 16 years later in 1914 that the possession of morphine, heroin, and cocaine without a prescription was outlawed in the US due to the highly addictive nature of these substances.

Development of Inhalant Anesthetics

Oral and inhalant anesthetics were utilized historically by Muslim anesthesiologists, and the use of these preparations was well known in the Islamic Empire. Several hundred surgical operations were performed which used sponges soaked in narcotic preparations, placed over the face of the individual undergoing surgery.

In the Western world, the development of inhalant anesthetics, along with the use of sterile surgical techniques developed by Joseph Lister, was one of the main keys to performing successful surgery in the nineteenth century.

During the nineteenth century, both carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide were used in experimental surgical procedures. While the use of carbon dioxide as an anesthetic never became popular, nitrous oxide did in fact become very widely used.

The anesthetic properties of nitrous oxide were first noted by Humphry Davy, a British chemist, in a paper published in 1800. However, it was not until several decades later in the 1840s that nitrous oxide became more widely used. One of the first successful uses of the gas for painless tooth extraction was carried out by American dentist William Thomas Green Morton, in 1846.

During the same decade, an inhalant anesthetic called diethyl ether was also used for tooth extraction. Diethyl ether was originally synthesized by German physician Valerius Cordus in 1540; however it was not until the 1840s that the first public demonstration of the use of ether occurred. A decade earlier, in the 1830s, chloroform had also been developed. This became more popular in Britain, but even so the dangers of both ether and chloroform were well-noted.

Modern Anesthetics

Modern anesthetics are of two types: general and local anesthetics. Local anesthetics include substances such as lidocaine and procaine. These work by preventing transmission of nerve impulses in the area where the anesthetic is administered. General anesthetics, on the other hand, are more similar in nature to nitrous oxide in their method of delivery, and in fact this inhalant anesthetic is still in use. Inhalation anesthetics are usually fluorochemicals (isoflurane, sevoflurane and desflurane) that have much lower flammability than diethyl ether, thus they are much safer to use in the operating room.

Benefits of liquid vitamins

Benefits of Liquid Vitamins

Vitamins and minerals can be absorbed by the body in a number of ways. They first enter our body through the food we eat. Secondly, we can take vitamin supplements to increase the amount of pertinent vitamins and minerals. There are different methods of taking medication and one of the most common methods is absorbing it in its liquid form. Do the advantages of liquid vitamins far outweigh its disadvantages Ė if there are any? Read on and find out.

Better or Easier Absorption for Kids

Although liquid vitamins may taste worse than vitamins in flavored, chewable tablet forms, they are however easier to absorb. There are numerous cases in which children have problems with choking, breathing and swallowing simply because of their inability to absorb medication or vitamins in this form.

This is the same problem as well for adults who have lost their ability to control their jaws or are unable to digest anything that is not in liquid form.

Liquid Vitamins are More Effective

Because of its form, liquid vitamins can be assimilated immediately into the blood stream for a more systemic administration of the vitamin and its average absorption rate is approximately 90 to 98%. It is also three to five times more concentrated than vitamin pills and this lead to higher bio-activity and greater therapeutic benefits.

The Link between Antioxidants and Liquid Vitamins

Have you ever wondered whether or not liquid vitamins contained oxidants as well? Vitamins E, C and A are examples of antioxidants and they are commonly found in vitamin supplements but what about liquid vitamins?

And the answer is an absolute YES. Liquid vitamins must in fact contain such antioxidants or theyíll prove to be ineffective compared to other vitamins. Remember that the most important of all antioxidants Ė Vitamins A, C and E Ė are not internally produced by the body so they must be a regular fixture in our diet. Antioxidants are our main defense against effects of damaging oxidation reactions. Antioxidants are our best weapons against suffering from any form of cancer. Without it, we are basically weaker and less healthy.

Liquid Vitamins versus Digestive Acids

One reason why people refuse to acknowledge the benefits of liquid vitamins is because of the supposed destruction by digestive acids of any vitamin or mineral that it does not recognize as part of the process of digestion. The opposite is, in fact true. Our digestive system actually prefers or is able to better absorb liquid vitamins and minerals rather than those made in pill or capsule form.

A vitamin pill or tablet has to be digested completely before it can benefit the human body. It must be broken down into absorbable nutrients or only up to thirty percent of it will be absorbed by the human body. Liquid vitamins however provide a better and easier solution for the digestive system. Because it does not depend in any way on mechanical digestion, an estimated 90% of it can be absorbed directly by the body.

Itís vital to remember that digestion does not mainly function to destroy vitamins and minerals but rather to transform them into substances it can use to improve the general constitution of the body.

Liquid Vitamins: Toxic or Not?

Another problem posed is the amount of colloidal minerals found in liquid vitamins. Are they harmful or not?

In truth, even plants and fruits contain a trace of such minerals in them. Apples, for instance, contain 3-5 mg of aluminum as itís one of the most abundant elements that can be found in the surface of the Earth. But do you hear anyone telling you that apples are dangerous to your health? On the contrary, what we are more likely to hear is that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

And so it must be with liquid vitamins as well. Containing a slight amount of colloidal mineral doesnít mean itís bad for our health right away. Colloidal minerals, are above all else, naturally occurring elements and can not therefore be avoided.

You Have a Choice

At the end of the day, however, itís still up to you whether or not you wish to take vitamin supplements in liquid or solid form. What really matters is what you prefer and which will ultimately work better for you.