Modern medicine is luxuries our human ancestors didn't have. They had to deal with the pain of surgical procedures using natural remedies and old wives' tales.
These patients were not given anesthesia to make them numb or unconscious. Plants and various concoctions were used to help the sick and save their lives.
It took a lot of trial and error to get to where we are today. There are 10 important moments in the history of anesthesia.
10 Ancient Anesthesia
Medical practices were in their infancy when the tale of anesthesia and its rudimentary versions began. It makes sense that the ancients would turn to opium for its painkilling properties.
According to artifacts, opium was used as far back as 4,000 BC for dental surgery in order to make the procedure less painful. If you lived in an area where these plants were abundant, you could get a good, strong dose of this painkiller before they began drilling your teeth.
The photo is from the magazine.
There were other substances that could be used to relieve the pain of surgeries. There was beer as well.
Beer may have been invented before bread. Beer is likely to be the first way to treat the pain of surgery.
In and around the ancient powerhouse of the beer-making world, plenty of people had access to enough of this beverage to get sufficiently drunk before surgery. Plants and flowers were used to make concoctions. The properties of the analgesics helped to numb the pain and allow people to complete their surgeries.
The photo is from britannica.com.
henbane has been used as a folk remedy to alleviate pain from ancient Greece to ancient Rome.
The plant is not poisonous when smoked or applied to a wound. It can lead to severe sickness and even death when eaten. The belladonna was used around the Mediterranean for the same purpose. The ancients were desperate for pain relief when they had no alcohol, wine, or opium. available.
7 Modern Anesthesia
Photo credit: The Bodley library has books.
An Italian physician tried an old remedy on Christmas Eve in 1298 to help with his pain from surgery. Theodoric of Lucca published many medical works before his masterpiece, Surgery, in 1266.
Theodoric's father, Hugh, used opium to treat pain, but he used sponges to administer the drug to the brain. The patient could feel the effects more fully.
Theodoric was the author of the first article in the history of anesthesia. Theodoric canonized opium in the medical literature because other surgeons had used it.
The photo was taken by diethylether.weebly.com.
In 1540, German botanist Valerius Cordus created ether, a clear liquid that emits a strong vapor. Doctors trying to focus intently and carry out operations by candlelight were faced with a serious problem with ether, a highly flammable gas.
The operating theater could go up in flames if there was a wrong gust of wind. It was preferable to nothing that ether was dangerous.
Paracelsus, a German-Swiss physician who rejected modern medicine and the traditional teachings of medical school, would study it further, even though Cordus was credited with the synthesis of ether. He said that it made chickens unconscious.
Paracelsus discovered that ether had analgesic properties when it was tested on animals. Both medical chemistry and the hunt for the best anesthetic were born after that.
5 Nitrous Oxide
The photo was taken by Joseph Priestley.
If you find yourself in the dentist's chair laughing after the good doctor gives you nitrous oxide, you can thank a man who was born in England in 1733. Joseph Priestly identified the substance in 1772.
His work, Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air, was written in six volumes. He is said to have found 10 new gases. There is debate over whether he was the first to identify oxygen.
Humphry Davy conducted experiments in the 1800's by inhaling nitrous oxide and noting how it made him laugh. His work didn't have much of an impact on the medical community of the day, though he explored its use for painless surgery on animals.
Samuel Cooley of America was hurt while under the influence of the substance, but he wasn't in a lot of pain. For hundreds of years, nitrous oxide became a staple anesthetic.
Kevin King has a photo.
An invention changed the world of anesthesia. Chloroform was produced by two people, Eugene Soubeiran in France and Samuel Guthrie in the US. The compound was capable of knocking people unconscious.
James Young Simpson was the first person to put himself into a complete coma on November 4, 1847. chloroform was created to help with major medical practices.
chloroform was unsafe at the time, killing about 1 in every 3,000 patients. This didn't stop anyone. It became a chic medical anesthesia in the Victorian era, with Queen Victoria even going so far as to be chloroformed during childbirth. It was widely used in the UK and America.
The photo was taken by Gaius Cornelius.
Morphine took a long time to get off the ground after being isolated from opium. The first tests of morphine on animals were lethal. The man who discovered morphine, Friedrich Wilhelm Serturner, used the substance on himself in smaller amounts and found the results quite pleasant.
Morphine became a viable option in the treatment of pain after the invention of the hypodermic needle. It wasn't long before the addictive properties of morphine were revealed.
Over the course of the late 1800s and early 1900s, some restrictions were put on the use of Morphine. morphine is still used in medical practices.
Photo credit: Mpv_51
Heroin was first synthesized from morphine in 1874, but it wasn't until 1895 that it was released to the market as a painkiller. The heroin that was re-synthesized by a man in Germany was not done for about 20 years.
The problems associated with heroin were realized in 25 years. In the US alone, an estimated 200,000 people are addicted to the drug. The United States banned it long before other drugs became illegal.
Heroin use went largely underground at that time. It is still used to numb pain, both physical and emotional.
1 And Beyond
Many more drugs have been released on the market since the introduction of heroin. We now have anesthetics that don't come from opium at all.
Careful consideration is given to how to alleviate pain with the continued development of new drugs. Although there are other options and the promise of better drugs in the future, products derived from the opium poppy have remained the staple when it comes to pain relief and anesthesia.
We should feel accomplished. The mortality rates for anesthesia have dropped. chloroform killed 1 in every 3,000 patients in the 1800s. The number of patients dying from anesthesia decreased in the 1980's. The death rate was 1 in 200,000–300,000 by 1999.
Over the centuries, the practice of anesthesia and surgery has become safer. Procedures are different now that technological advances have been made. Our ancestors did it thousands of years ago to relieve surgical pain.