Chemistry, Biology | Year 1, YVR Session 2
What is Aspirin?
Aspirin is a commonly used medicinal drug that reduces pain, fever, and inflammation. Although the drug is manufactured in factories today, the drug was originally derived from willow bark and leaves.
Discovery of Aspirin
The ancient Egyptians were the first to use willow bark as a method of pain relief. The ancient Greeks also discovered the medicinal properties of willow bark and leaves.
However, it wasn’t until 1829 that a French scientist isolated the chemical responsible for Aspirin. Salicylic acid is the substance that gives Aspirin its medicinal properties. However, by itself, salicylic acid causes nausea or even coma in large amounts.
The chemical people recognize as Aspirin today was first synthesized in the 1890s. The salicylic acid was formed into acetylsalicylic acid in order to make it safe for consumption.
The Son of the Last Czar
Alexei, the son and heir of the Russian Tzar, had hemophilia severe enough that he couldn’t walk on some days. Those with hemophilia, especially severe sufferers like Alexei, should not take Aspirin as it makes the bleeding worse. However, the Imperial doctors believed in this new miracle drug and gave it to Alexei, making his conditions worse.
Rasputin: the “Miracle Doctor”
Rasputin, a self-proclaimed mystic and saint, said he would be able to treat Alexei. He told the Tsar and Tsarina to stop with modern treatments. Alexei’s condition improved after he stopped taking aspirin.
As a result of this, Rasputin gained a large amount of influence over the Royal Family, especially the Tsarina. There were rumours that Rasputin seduced the Tsarina, destroying her reputation. There were calls to remove Rasputin from the Romanov court, but the Tsar ignored them in order to keep his wife and son happy.
Eventually, the scandal with Rasputin, and a myriad of other issues, caused the Royal Family to be assassinated.