Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Truly The Wonder Drug

All through my childhood, Bayer aspirin was touted as "the wonder drug". I suppose that was because no matter what ailed you, the doctor was sure to prescribe an aspirin as the cure but it is the oldest medication known today. And although it was seen as the wonder drug, the effects of aspirin-like substances date back to ancient Greeks. Used as a fever reducer the leaves and bark of the willow contain salicin which in layman terms is similar to the chemical name for aspirin.

The origin of aspirin came through the collaborative research work of several aspirin inventors rather than one specific person. In 1897, Friedrich Bayer and Company came up with a stable compound as a result of a treatment for arthritis pain. A few years later, The Bayer Company introduced aspirin to physicians for pain relief for their patients.

Today the tiny wonder drug is given to hundreds of thousands of heart patients as a daily low dose and preventive for heart disease and stroke. Approved by the FDA, aspirin is the only analgesic that can help save your life when taken as directed during a suspected heart attack and can also lessen the damaging effects. Experts agree that your first line of defense is to call 911 should you suspect a heart attack and then chew a couple of aspirin. The best kind? The granular generic - the big bottle with the crumbly pieces at the bottom is truly your best bet says Dr. Nancy Synderman, NBC's Chief Medical Editor, because it breaks up so easily and quickly gets to work.

But if the symptoms are stroke related, Dr Snyderman, warns that taking aspirin at that time may be more harmful than helpful because it is designed to increase blood flow, something that may cause the heart or other arterial passages to throw clots. Aspirin is recommended for prevention of a second or recurrent stroke. And as always, one should talk to their doctor before beginning and aspirin regimen to be sure it is right for your body. 

But wait, there's more this little wonder drug can do. Stuck with a dead battery and no cables? Drop two aspirin into the battery to give it a little spark to help get you to a service station. Have a itchy bug bite or unsightly blemish - crush aspirin mixed with water to make paste. Smear on the area to take down the inflammation. Nasty stain on your favorite shirt? Dissolve aspirin into lukewarm water and wash the stain away. And of course, the all time favorite, add a an aspirin to the water when you fill that vase with fresh flowers, or as the season approaches your live Christmas tree.

I can think of no better word to describe this little pill than "wonderful". So many practical uses both medical and aesthetic, it has every reason to claim the name "Wonder Drug". With few exceptions, such as bleeding disorders, pregnant women and not for children with fevers due to Rhys Syndrome, aspirin remains a staple in our daily lives. Simple, I like it.  That's What A Wise Grandma Would Do.

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