In this project I will investigate the therapeutic uses of aspirin and its effects on individuals, medical science and the world. I aim to come to a conclusion whether Aspirin is the greatest discovery made. I will look at informative articles from reliable sources to gain my information and present it in this project.

History of Aspirin

Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid as it is known in science was discovered by the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates in approximately 400 B.C. Hippocrates extracted powder from the bark and leaves of a willow tree to create a medicine which is now known as aspirin.

Salicin was the original, standard form of aspirin which many Chemists and Pharmacists researched to improve its purity and effect. Raffaele Piria, an Italian chemist, split salicin into a sugar and an aromatic component and converted the latter, by hydrolysis and oxidation, to form salicylic acid.”

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The final push for the production of aspirin came from a German Chemist named Felix Hoffmann. He rediscovered the formula originally found by Charles Frederic Gerhardt to change its effect on the stomach, as pure salicylic acid was dangerous to stomachs.

Hoffmann added a chemical called acetyl chloride to combat the effects on the stomach to salicylic acid. He also found a more effective way of producing salicylic acid by extracting it from a plant called ‘spiraea ulmaria’ which gives the ‘spir’ in aspirin. Hoffmann then patented aspirin in 1900 and sold it in powder form.

Therapeutic Uses

Aspirin is known as a miracle drug because it can treat a variety of illnesses and prevent life-threatening heart attacks or strokes. Aspirin was originally used as a pain relief drug but then also found to treat cardiovascular disease, arthritis, fever, colds and brain haemorrhage.

Aspirin can be used as a pain relief drug, an anti-inflammatory, an antipyretic and an antiplatelet to repair damaged blood vessels etc. aspirin is heard to reduce the risk of developing cancer, strokes, heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and pregnancy complications.

Some of these breakthroughs have only been discovered very recently and I’m sure there will be more in the future. In fact a recent breakthrough showed that aspirin combined with omega-3 fish oil can help the treatment to bowel cancer.

A study led by Malcolm Dunlop of the University of Edinburgh, compared the aspirin habits of 2800 people with cancer and 3000 without. The team found that the risk of getting cancer was 25 per cent lower in those who had been taking 75 milligrams of the drug daily compared with those who had not.

Because of aspirin’s ability to cure and prevent a variety of illnesses and organ failure, it has been regarded as the most important drug discovered. Dr Phillip Majerus of Washington University believes aspirin is the most effective drug we have and says;

“If we eliminated all but three drugs, aspirin would be one of the three”

Aspirins growth

Since the invention of aspirin by Felix Hoffmann in 1899, aspirin has massively increased in popularity and now found in almost every household, in America millions take Aspirin Daily to prevent Heart Disease and the many other illnesses it prevents.

Aspirin’s popularity grew over the first half of the twentieth century, spurred by its effectiveness in the wake of Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, and aspirin’s profitability led to fierce competition and the proliferation of aspirin brands and products.

Life Changing Experiences

Aspirin over the years has saved thousands of lives and it continues to work miracles on patients with cardiovascular disease and stroke victims. One story, is from Katherine Michaels aged 59, Katherine was walking with her walking club when suddenly she had a tight feeling in her chest and felt nauseous, she thought she was getting a virus, only to discover it was a heart attack.

As soon as Katherine made it to her Doctor, she was prescribed Aspirin to help her recover from that traumatic experience. Now she eats a healthy diet, does regular exercise and takes her aspirin and she no longer has health problems and can continue with her walking club.

How does it Work?

Aspirin works by reducing the amounts of prostaglandins and thromboxanes in your system. Prostaglandins are responsible for inflammation and thromboxanes are known to cause blood clotting, hence the name thrombosis. Aspirin works by inactivating the cyclooxygenase enzyme which is needed for the synthesis of prostaglandins and thromboxanes.

This mechanism is far more superior to other pain killers because the reaction is irreversible so it has prolonged effect. The mechanism also allows aspirin to work quickly as the enzyme it disables is essential to prostaglandins and thromboxanes and will reduce the number quickly and efficiently.

Side effects

Despite all of the miracles aspirin woks on the human body, there are also a list of side effects which may put other customers off. Some side effects may be damage to kidneys if prescription is a high dose, hives and swelling, tinnitus, aggravation to the stomach and Reye’s syndrome. Reye’s syndrome is the inflammation of the brain and liver failure. It is very rare that this happens as it requires a high dose in children which may cause the disease.

Although millions of healthy people in the USA take aspirin, the findings show that for otherwise healthy people the risks of taking aspirin outweigh the benefits. The doctors stressed that patients who had already suffered a heart attack should continue to take the drug.


Despite aspirin being the most popular and effective painkiller today, there are still many other painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs on the market such as ibuprofen, morphine, codeine and paracetamol. These drugs are alternatives to aspirin if customers are worried that some side effects may affect them. For example people with asthma are strongly recommended to avoid aspirin and ibuprofen as this may lead to an asthma attack.

American researchers have discovered that a drug used to relieve cramps is more effective than aspirin at reducing stroke risk. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School found that taking anti-clotting drug cilostazol reduces the risk of having a stroke by a quarter and the possibility of experiencing dangerous side affects by one-half.

However many people turn to aspirin as it has fewer side effects compared to other painkillers, and some painkillers have worse or even life-threatening side effects to specific people.


During my studies I have came to the conclusion that Aspirin is one of the greatest discoveries ever because it is the most versatile drug on the planet. Aspirin can relieve symptoms for as many as 15 different diseases and pains.

Aspirin has been on the frontline of medical advance for a while now and it still continues to provide fantastic discoveries and breakthroughs. Aspirin gives maximum effect with minimum side effects using a unique and super quick mechanism.

I came to this conclusion by assessing the sources I have investigated and these sources have showed me the effects aspirin has in medical science. Although some sources criticized it’s side effects, I have understood how aspirin is one of the most important drugs there is.

Without aspirin, medical science wouldn’t be the same and many lives would be lost. This drug has proven its name as a ‘miracle drug’ and is without a doubt the most successful drugs on the market.


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