Aspirin went on sale as the first pharmaceutical
drug in 1899, after Felix Hoffman, a German chemist at the drug
company Bayer, successfully modified Salicylic Acid, a compound
found in willow bark to produce Aspirin.
Bayer® Aspirin was the first drug ever to be marketed in tablet
form. First marketed in 1899 as a powder, by 1900 aspirin was being
compressed into a water-soluble tablet.
Cocaine was the first local anesthetic; being used as such from
about 1884 onwards.
Cocaine works in a totally different way from narcotics such as
morphine or heroin. Heroin works on receptor sites in the brain
which are stimulated by the drug to produce pain-relieving and mood-enhancing
chemicals. Cocaine on the other hand works by stimulating the central
nervous system, and like alcohol, is processed through the liver.
'Crack' is the street name given to cocaine that has been processed
from cocaine hydrochloride to a free base for smoking. Rather than
requiring the more volatile method of processing cocaine using ether,
crack cocaine is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking
soda) and water and heated to remove the hydrochloride, thus producing
a form of cocaine that can be smoked. The term 'crack' refers to
the crackling sound heard when the mixture is smoked (heated), presumably
from the sodium bicarbonate. 'Crack Cocaine' is still cocaine. It
is simply a different chemical process applied to cocaine powder
that allows cocaine to be smokeable. This means that the 'high'
from Crack Cocaine is much stronger and more immediate (taking about
8 seconds to reach the brain); and also shorter lived then from
Despite the fact that federal spending on the drug war increased
from $1.65 billion in 1982 to $17.7 billion in 1999, more than half
of the students in the United States in 1999 tried an illegal drug
before they graduated from high school. Additionally, 65% have tried
cigarettes by 12th grade and 35% are current smokers, and 62% of
twelfth graders and 25% of 8th graders in 1999 report having been
drunk at least once.
Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance
extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin usually
appears as a white or brown powder. Street names for heroin include
"smack," "H," "skag," and "junk." Other names may refer to types
of heroin produced in a specific geographical area, such as "Mexican
In an article in 1998, The Journal of the American Medical Association
claimed that adverse drug reactions may cause more than 100,000
deaths a year in the US alone.
In the US, Delaware, Virginia and Michigan rank as the top three
states for Ritalin use, and most of the prescriptions are for elementary
and middle school age children. Doctors in these states prescribe
at least 33 grams for every 1,000 residents, 56 percent more than
the national average, according to figures compiled by the Federal
Drug Enforcement Agency.
Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is a medication prescribed for individuals
(usually children) who have an abnormally high level of activity
or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to
the National Institute of Mental Health, about 3 to 5 percent of
the general population has the disorder, which is characterized
by agitated behavior and an inability to focus on tasks. Methylphenidate
also is occasionally prescribed for treating narcolepsy. Methylphenidate
is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. It has effects similar
to, but more potent than, caffeine and less potent than amphetamines.
It has a notably calming effect on hyperactive children and a "focusing"
effect on those with ADHD.
More than 100 years ago, the felt hat makers of England used mercury
to stabilize wool. Most of them eventually became poisoned by the
fumes, as demonstrated by the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll's Alice
in Wonderland. Breathing mercury's fumes over a long period of time
will cause erethism, a disorder characterized by nervousness, irritability,
and strange personality changes.
Ricin is a protein produced by the castor oil plant, Ricinus communis,
which is highly toxic (the minimal lethal dose is around 1 µg /
kg body weight, that means 1/15th of a milligram could kill a 150
lb. person). Ricin can be a dangerous contaminant, making the production
of castor oil a precisely controlled process.
'Soldiers disease' is a term for morphine addiction. The Civil
War produced over 400,000 morphine addicts.
The anti-malarial drug quinine is taken from the bark of the Andean
The average cup of coffee contains more than 1000 different chemical
components, none of which is tasted in isolation but only as part
of the overall flavor.
The chemical n-acetyl-cysteine found in raw eggs is proven to help
The first known heart medicine was discovered in an English garden.
In 1799, physician John Ferriar noted the effect of dried leaves
of the common foxglove plant, digitalis purpurea, on heart action.
Still used in heart medications, digitalis slows the pulse and increases
the force of heart contractions and the amount of blood pumped per
The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).
The membranes of certain nerve cells in the brain contain protein
receptors that bind to THC. Once securely in place, THC kicks off
a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the high
that users experience when they smoke marijuana
The major side effects from abusing anabolic steroids can include
liver tumors and cancer, jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of skin,
tissues, and body fluids), fluid retention, high blood pressure,
increases in LDL (bad cholesterol), and decreases in HDL (good cholesterol).
Other side effects include kidney tumors, severe acne, and trembling.
The rosy periwinkle plant, found in Madagascar, is used to cure
Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including at least 50
that cause, initiate or promote cancer such as tar, ammonia, carbon
monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and benzopyrene.
Traces of cocaine were found on 99% of UK bank notes in a survey
in London in 2000.