The History, Use, and Effectiveness of Medicinal Drugs

In today’s culture, the medicines of our ancestors are now considered to be harmful to oneself and are classified as illegal such as the drugs of marijuana and opium which were key in the Chinese, and Native American medical system. The origin of drugs vary from common plants, (Aspirin, Digitalis, Ergot, Opium, Quinine, Reserpine) to minerals, (Boric Acid, Epsom Salts, Iodine) or synthetic compounds. The difference in a drug from being helpful to being deadly is all in the dosage, which is determined by the amount of the drug that is found in the blood, this process is known as Serum Monitoring.

The risk-to-benefit ratio of drug use is also extremely important, a drug could totally help one ailment but in turn cause another such as the drug niridazole, which helps schistosomaisis but is known to cause cancer. Even the national government has some control over the regulation of drug use. Proprietary drugs are sold over the counter and promote less addiction that Ethical drugs which can only be obtained legally by a written prescription by a registered doctor. Jurisdiction of illegal drugs which produce a strong addiction is given to the Drug Enforcement Administration of the U. S. Department of Justice.

The most important article about doctor prescribed drugs is that the doctor is aware about other drugs in which the patient is taking, because one drug alone may be helpful but administered with another could cause adverse side effects preventing recovery for the patient. 1″Acetylsalicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin is one of the most widely used analgesics in the world”. Used by Ancient Greeks and Native Americans it was used to reduce fever and pain and could also be used as an anti-inflammatory agent.

It interferes with tissue contractions of the prostaglandin’s which are hemicals involved in the production of inflammation and pain. It modifies the temperature-regulating portion of the brain, dilating blood vessels in the skin and increases sweating which in turn cools the body reducing fever. Aspirin also prevents the production of thromboxane which plays a key role in coagulation cascade, which slows blood clotting and is helpful in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

It is derived from the bark of the willow tree, and its activity is produced from chemicals called salicylates. 2″Charles Gerhardt a French chemist first synthesized the acetyl derivative from he salicylic acid in 1853 developing the first type of aspirin,” but Felix Hoffman a German chemist was the first to realize its medical value in 1893. Over a long period of constant use aspirin can cause iron deficiency, gastric ulcers, kidney damage and if given to children having chicken pox or influenza could cause the risk of contracting the fatal brain disease known as Reye’s syndrome.

Usage of Aspirin varies. Short term use of about 3″6-10 days” is recommended without physician supervision but long term use requires periodic evaluations and dosage restrictions. Side effects also vary with the individual, they could include mild drowsiness, allergic reactions, skin rash, hives, nasal discharge, stomach irritation, heart burn, nausea, vomiting, constipation and in extreme cases erosion of the stomach lining, activation of a peptic ulcer, bone marrow depression, hepatitis, and kidney damage.

Overdosing on this drug produces side effects such as stomach distress, nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, sweating, stupor, deep and rapid breathing, twitching, and convolutions. Aspirin was the first non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NASID) but by far not the last. “One and a half million Americans suffer from heart attacks each year and about 200,000 suffer from heart related deaths”. Aspirin helps millions of people each year because it prevents premature blood clotting.

No other NSAID can compare with the price or efficacy of aspirin but ibuprofen can come very close. Where aspirin might take up to 12 doses to relieve pain over a long period a strong dosage of ibuprofen could help the patient in one dose. Even though Ibuprofen works as well as aspirin care must be taken with its usage, although it does not irritate the stomach as much as aspirin it accelerates the amaging of the kidneys.

Another problem between aspirin and ibuprofen is price. 5″A 30 day supply of aspirin could cost $3. 5 where a 30 day supply of ibuprofen could cost $22. 95″. New studies prove that aspirin also has effect over migraine headaches, cataracts, gallstones, diabetic eye problems, insomnia, weight loss for women, wheat intolerance, leprosy and even hip replacement complications. Aspirin plays an important role in keeping our bodies resistant against various illnesses and helping in times of injury. Sulfonamides, the chemical name for sulfa drugs were the first chemical ompounds to provide safe and effective treatment to most common bacterial infections.

Before the use of penicillin after the mid 1940’s, Sulfa drugs played a major role in antibacterial treatment which resulted in a sharp decrease in deaths due to such bacterial infections. In today’s modern medical system sulfa drugs are used to treat patients of urinary tract infections. Sulfur in its natural form is a tasteless, odorless, light yellow solid, once forcefully fed to children in the belief that it was good for their health.

Sulfur compounds, found in dairy products and eggs, are an essential dietary ngredient. Instead of killing bacteria sulfa drugs prevent them from multiplying, making it easier for the bodies natural defenses to overcome and destroy them. Bacteria require certain chemicals know as 6″para-aminobenzoic acids” to multiply, sulfa drugs resemble the chemical structure of the acids and can be absorbed by the bacteria. The sulfa drugs combine with the outer shells of the bacteria therefore not allowing the real acids to penetrate.

All bacteria are not reactant to sulfonamides and have to be screened by the physician to see if it is necessary to take a more serious action. Sulfa drugs an be taken orally which is most common, or by an injection just beneath the skin. In former medical history they were used to treat pneumonia, dysentery, blood poising, cellulitis, bubonic plague, and conjunctivitis. Since the recognition of penicillin as an effective bacterial assailant and some bacteria becoming resistant to sulfonamides physicians have been less likely to prescribe them since the late 1940’s.

The combination of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim have given a new usage for sulfa drugs, now they can be used for such ailments as middle ear infections, shigellosis and recurring urinary tract nfections. 7″Paul Gelmo in 1908 discovered the first sulfa drug” accidentally while looking for dies to better color woolen clothing unaware its future lye in the medical profession. In 8″1953 a German pathologist named Gerhard Domagk” reported that this dye killed streptococcal bacteria in mice leading to the first research in to the bacteria fighting drug.

Major problems included with the first line of the drug sulfanilamide were included in the administration of the drug. It sometimes crystallized in the urine of the patient causing kidney damage. Later development of water soluble ulfa drugs solved the problem of crystallization in the urine and gave the hope of a longer life span to people living in the 1930’s. In the ancient language of Greek the term antibiotic meant 8against life. They are chemical substances produced by one organism that in turn are destructive to another. This process traditionally has been called antibiosis and is the opposite of symbiosis.

An antibiotic is a type of chemotherapeutic agent, it has a toxic effect on certain types of disease-producing microorganisms without acting dangerously on the patient. Some chemotherapeutic agents differ from antibiotics in that they are not secreted by microorganisms, as are antibiotics, but rather are made synthetically in a chemical laboratory. 9″Alternately examples are quinine, used against malaria; arsphenamine, used against syphilis; the sulfa drugs, used against a wide variety of diseases, notably pneumonia; and the quinolones, used against hospital-derived infections (zoonoses)”.

A few antibiotics, among them penicillin and chloramphenicol, have now been produced synthetically also. The first observation of what would now be called an ntibiotic effect was made in the 10″19th century by the French chemist Louis Pasteur”, who discovered that certain saprophytic bacteria can kill anthrax germs. Around the year 11″1900 the German bacteriologist Rudolf von Emmerich isolated a substance called pyocyanase”, which can kill the germs of cholera and diphtheria in the test tube. It was not useful, however, in curing disease.

In the 12″1920s the British bacteriologist Sir Alexander Fleming, who later discovered penicillin”, found a substance called lysozyme in many of the secretions of the body such as tears and sweat, and in certain other plant and nimal substances. Lysozyme has strong antimicrobial activity, but mainly against harmless bacteria. Discovery of Penicillin The research of Alexander Fleming in 1928 led to the discovery of penicillin, an important antibiotic derived from the mold Penicillin notatum. Penicillin is effective against a wide range of disease-causing bacteria.

It acts by killing bacteria directly or by inhibiting their growth. Penicillin, the archetype of antibiotics was discovered by accident in 13″1928 by Fleming”, who showed its effectiveness in laboratory cultures against many isease-producing bacteria, such as those that cause gonorrhea and certain types of meningitis and bacteria (blood poisoning); however, he performed no experiments on animals or humans. Penicillin was first used on humans by the British scientists 14″Sir Howard Florey and Earnest Chain during the 1940-41 winter”.

The first antibiotic to be used in the treatment of human diseases was tyrothricin (one of the purified forms of which was called gramicidin), which was isolated from certain soil bacteria by the American bacteriologist 15″RenT Dubos in 1939″. This substance was too toxic for general use, but it is employed in the external treatment of certain infections. Other antibiotics produced by actinomycetes, filamentous and branching bacteria, occurring in soil have proved more successful.

One of these, streptomycin, discovered in 15″1944 by the American microbiologist Selman Waksman and his associates”, is effective against many diseases, including several in which penicillin is useless, especially tuberculosis. Since then, such antibiotics as chloramphenicol, the tetracyclines, erythromycin, neomycin, nystatin, amphotericin, cephalosporins, and kanamycin ave been developed and may be used in the treatment of infections caused by some bacteria, fungi, viruses, rickettsia, and other microorganisms.

In clinical treatment of infections, the causative organism must be identified and the antibiotics to which it is sensitive must be determined in order to select an antibiotic with the greatest probability of killing the infecting organism. Recently, strains of bacteria have arisen that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics; for example, gonorrhea-causing bacteria that high doses of penicillin are not able to destroy may transfer this resistance to other acteria by exchange of genetic structures called plasmids.

Some bacteria have become simultaneously resistant to two or more antibiotics by this mechanism. New antibiotics that circumvent this problem, such as the quinolones, are being developed. The cephalosporins, for instance, kill many of the same organisms that penicillin does, but they also kill strains of those bacteria that have become resistant to penicillin. Often the resistant organisms arise in hospitals, where antibiotics are used most often, especially to prevent infections from surgery.

Another problem in hospitals is that many old and very ill patients develop infections from organisms that are not pathogenic in healthy persons, such as the common intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli. New antibiotics have been synthesized to combat these organisms. Fungus infections have also become more common with the increasing use of chemotherapeutic agents to fight cancer, and more effective antifungal drugs are being sought. The search for new antibiotics continues in general, as researchers examine soil molds for possible agents.

Among those found in the 16″1980s, for example, are the monobactams”, which may also prove useful against hospital infections. Antibiotics are found in other sources as well, such as the family of magainins 17″discovered in the late 1980s in frogs; although untested in humans as yet, they hold broad possibilities”. Antibiotics have also been used effectively to foster growth in animals. Concern has arisen, however, that this widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed can foster the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms that may then be transmitted to human beings.

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