Aspirin: History of Development, Its Uses and Mechanism of Action

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Acetoxybenzoic acid or more commonly recognized as aspirin, is one of the greatest researched and commonly used drug in the world. It is so widely researched that there are 700 to 1,000 clinical trials each year. Even though aspirin comes in pill tablets different cultures take the pills in different ways, for example, the French take it as suppositories, the British take it by dissolving it in water and Americans take it by swallowing the pill whole. Regardless of whether its taken whole, crushed, or as a suppository it is still like all other drugs by having a vast and complex history, a specific way it works based on its existing functional groups, and certain side uses and side effects.

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The background of aspirin dates all the way back to Ebers Papyrus (3000-1500 BC), which is willow. In the Ebers Papyrus it states that the willow was used as an anti inflammatory and a pain reliever. During 400 BC Hippocrates administered willow leaf tea to ease the difficult pain the oldest collection of medical writings in history, where it is referred to in its earliest form as of childbirth. Furthermore, in 1828 Joseph Buchner succeeded in extracting the active ingredient from willow which he later named salicin. Two years later Salicin is also found in a different plant, the meadowsweet flower by a pharmacist named, Johann Pagenstecher.In 1853, Charles Frederic Gerhardt calculated the chemical structure of salicylic acid and chemically synthesized acetylsalicylic acid. In 1897 while the German chemist, Felix Hoffman, was working under the pharmaceutical company Bayer, he observed that by adding an acetyl group to the salicylic acid it would reduce the amount of irritation that used to occur when the drug was used. Finally in 1899 the drug previously known as acetylsalicylic acid was named aspirin by the same company, Bayer. It is named this due to the fact that the letter “A” stands for acetyl, “spir” is for Spiraea Ulmaria (the scientific name for the meadowsweet flower), and “in” was the common suffix used for drugs at the time. In 1950 aspirin gets named the worlds most frequently sold painkiller by Guinness World Records. Even now during the 21st century, studies continue to learn about the long term benefits of aspirin. Like for instance in 2011 a meta-analysis showed that after 5 years of follow-up participants, the results showed that aspirin taken daily for four years reduced the risk of dying from cancer by 44%.

Aspirin is used by many people for many different reasons. Aspirin can be used to reduce fever and mild to moderate pain. It can also be used in the cases of arthritis to diminish the pain and swelling of the joints. Aspirin, can be known as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Not only is aspirin a pain reliever but a low dose can also prevent blood clots. Although aspirin can have all of these benefits it can also include some side effects like rash, abdominal pain, heartburn, drowsiness, headache, cramping, nausea, gastritis, bleeding, and gastrointestinal ulcerations.

The way that aspirin works is by blocking a certain natural substance in a person's body to reduce the amount of pain and swelling. It works by inhibiting an enzyme that produces prostaglandins, which is a hormone-like messenger molecule that triggers the body's processes like inflammation and fever. To stop blood clots from from aging and keep the blood flowing, aspirin works on platelets by stopping the clotting action. It stops the clotting so that the blood can flow easily, long enough for the person to get to the hospital to get the adequate medical treatment to be able to heal. Doctors also recommend an aspirin regimen for survivors of a heart attack to help in preventing another heart attack. The functional groups in aspirin include: ester, carboxylic acid, and benzoic acid. There are three reactions of aspirin: one, neutralization, which is the reaction that can be used to determine the amount of aspirin present in a tablet., the second is the reaction with carbonate, which is when the acid and sodium hydrogen carbonate to make salt, carbon dioxide and water gas. The third reaction is hydrolysis, hydrolysis is a cleavage of a covalent bond in a molecule reacting with water.

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