Opium: Therapeutic use

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 2:24 pm

Therapeutic uses of opium have been known for centuries. Ancient Assyrian medical writings mentioned poppy juice. Ancient Greek physicians knew the medicinal effects of poppies as did Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” (460-377 B.C.), and Hua To, Chinese surgeon of the Three Kingdoms (a.d. 220-264). In ancient Rome, opium was used both as a religious drug and as a poison to commit suicides or murders. Hannibal allegedly committed suicide by taking opium and Nero’s mother poisoned a stepson with opium to assure Nero’s ascendance to power. In more recent times, opium use was widespread in the United States and Britain during the nineteenth century. Opium and its derivatives were used as a treatment for almost every ailment, as well as by addicts, and by artists seeking recreation and enhanced creativity.
Several powerful and important modern medicines are derived from opium or are synthetic or semi-synthetic narcotics with opiate-like effects. Many of these medicines are primarily used to control pain but are also used to control coughs and diarrhea, and as anesthesia.

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