Most of us have used aspirin as an analgesic at some point in our lives, but have you ever stopped to imagine how the little white pill is so effective at reducing our pain?
Although aspirin is considered a fairly new medical marvel, the drug itself is derived from the willow plant, which has been used as a painkiller for at least the past 6,000 years. According to How Stuff Works, it wasn’t until scientists worked on extracting and purifying the active ingredient in willow, salicin, that aspirin started to become what we now know today.
In our digestive tract, salicin is broken into salicylic acid, which helps to reduce pain and inflammation. German scientists were able to synthesize this on a large scale, but unfortunately it was very hard on the stomach lining. Aspirin was created as a less acidic version of synthetic salicylic acid.