The 2,000-Year-Old Wonder Drug: Aspirin

The World’s 2,000-year-old wonder drug is aspirin, a pain reliever that actually keeps the doctor away. The drug’s main component, salicylic acid, has been used for at least 2,000 years to reduce fevers, headaches, and inflammation.

While Hippocrates (the “father of medicine”) and the ancient Egyptians used willow and other plants that were high in salicylic acid, reports Yahoo! Health.

The practice of using willow bark has stood the test of time, with reports that even Lewis and Clark carried some on their expedition, relying on it to treat fevers during their expedition. Pharmacists began experimenting with the acid and prescribing chemicals related to it, until German chemist Felix Hoffman created modern-day aspirin in 1897.

Aspirin has been hailed as a wonder drug by several studies, who report that 75 mg of the drug each day can cut the risk of someone developing colon cancer by up to 28 percent. It can also reduce the odds of dying from colon cancer after diagnosis by 30 to 40 percent.

The drug, officially known as acetysalicylic acid (ASA) has also been used to treat and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, notes The New York Times. The United States Preventative Services Task Force began recommending the ancient wonder drug for men ages 45 to 79 and women ages 55 to 79. They stated that these people should take a low-dose aspirin pill every day, except if they are at risk for gastrointestinal bleeding or other health issues.

While the 2,000-year-old wonder drug has its benefits, it should be noted that there are risks as well, at least with modern-day aspirin. ASA can cause an asthma attack, bleeding stomach ulcers, and clotting disorders. It is recommended to speak with a doctor about benefits and risks of taking aspirin before you start a daily regimen.