Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Magic of Morphine


Morphine is a drug that is used as an anaesthetic. It is derived from opium and it affects the central nervous system relieving pain.

The discovery of morphine:
The origins of morphine can be traced back to 1522 when the scientist and alchemist Paracelsus is said to have used laudanum, as a pain killer. He advised that this should be used sparingly. The popularity of laudanum increased with the East India Company’s interest in opium trade in 1757. In 1804 the German scientist Friedrich Sertürner identified morphine as an alkaloid extracted from the poppy plant. 13 years later morphine was marketed as a drug to cure alcohol and opium addiction. It was only later that they realised that morphine could be equally addictive. The drug was extensively used during the American Civil War.

The discovery of the hypodermic needle:
An important factor in the adoption of morphine as a pain killer was the invention of the hypodermic needle in 1853. French surgeon Charles Pravaz and Scottish physician Alexander Wood independently invented the hypodermic needle. Wood had a patient who was suffering from neuralgia which was a sharp pain in the nerves. Using the device he was able to administer morphine to ease the pain.

How is morphine made?
Morphine is made from opium poppy. Latex is gathered from unripe poppy pods. Another method of manufacturing morphine uses poppy straw which you get from the dried stem and pods of the plant. The crushed poppy plant is treated with sulphuric acid. The resulting mixture goes through numerous extraction processes. Finally alkaloids are precipitated ammonium hydroxide or sodium carbonate. This is further purifying morphine from other opium alkaloids. In 2003 it was discovered that a very small quantities of morphine are found to be produced in the body by natural processes.

The uses of morphine:
Morphine can be used to treat a number of ailments. A few of these include patients suffering from heart attacks, pain associated with surgery, trauma and chronic pain like cancer. It is used as general anesthesia, a substance that puts you to sleep if you need to have a surgery, so that you don’t remember it.

Morphine is used as general anesthesia, a substance that puts you to sleep if you need to have a surgery, so that you don’t remember it.

The side effects of morphine:
Like everything else, too much of morphine is not good for you. It can cause constipation. If taken in excess it can even lead to cardiac arrest. Morphine can cause blood pressure to fall. It may make you feel faint, make things look blurred, give you shortness of breath or slow breathing. So even though morphine relieves stress remember too much of it is not good.


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