History of Morphine
Opium has been used for thousands of years to help with severe pain. The earliest recorded actual use was in the third century BC by a Greek man named Theophrastus. There are other records around the same time that indicate it was used as a local anesthetic and as a general anesthetic prior to surgery. Used for centuries in this manner, and there are records through 1000 AD that show Opium was still one of the most popular medications for those with severe pain.
Developed in the 19th century, and named for the Greek god Morpheus, morphine is an opiate that was originally used as a painkiller, and a cure for alcohol and opium addiction. In 1804 morphine was discovered in Germany, and was sold to the public around 1817 as an analgesic. Eventually, morphine was being manufactured commercially by 1827. Over the following years, research found morphine had higher addictive properties than alcohol and opium.
During the Civil War, doctors prescribed morphine to soldiers as a way to combat the extensive pain that accompanied their severe injuries. There is also some speculation surrounding the number of soldiers during this time that became addicted to morphine. This was known as the “soldier’s disease,” even though it was somewhere around 1915 when that term was first used.
Morphine was used to Create Heroin
In the 1870s, morphine was used to synthesize heroin. In 1898, Bayer sold heroin on the market as an analgesic. Morphine was the most commonly abused medication; until heroin made its debut. Heroin is about one and half to two times as strong as morphine, speaking of specimens of equal weight. Because of its composition, heroin is faster acting than morphine; however, it is also more addicting. Needless to say, both heroin and morphine are very dangerous and the latter should not be used without doctor supervision.
Morphine as a Controlled Substance
In the United States, in 1914, morphine was considered a controlled substance and possession was illegal without a prescription. Robert Robinson established the makeup of morphine in the 1920s. There has also been three different methods discovered allowing the synthesis of morphine since 1952 when a patent was applied for that involved coal tar and petroleum.
The poppy is still the leading source of morphine, and it has been proven that morphine can be derived from more of the plant than just the seeds. Morphine was considered to be the most widely used and abused narcotic until heroin was introduced. And times when heroin is in short supply, those with an addiction will quickly turn to morphine.
A discovery was made in 2003 that found naturally occurring morphine in the human body, called endogenous morphine. This was long believed to be true, because there is an opiate receptor in the body that only reacts to morphine. This incredible discovery could possibly lead to society having a cure for one of the most deadly and devastating addictions on the planet.