A History of the Medicines We Take (Paperback)
From Ancient Times to Present Day
A HISTORY OF THE MEDICINES WE TAKE gives a lively account of the development of medicines from traces of herbs found with the remains of Neanderthal man, to prescriptions written on clay tablets from Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC, to pure drugs extracted from plants in the nineteenth century to the latest biotechnology antibody products.
The first ten chapters of the book in PART ONE give an account of the development of the active drugs from herbs used in early medicine, many of which are still in use, to the synthetic chemical drugs and modern biotechnology products. The remaining eight chapters in PART TWO tell the story of the developments in the preparations that patients take and their inventors, such as Christopher Wren, who gave the first intravenous injection in 1656, and William Brockedon who invented the tablet in 1843. The book traces the changes in patterns of prescribing from simple dosage forms, such as liquid mixtures, pills, ointments, lotions, poultices, powders for treating wounds, inhalations, eye drops, enemas, pessaries and suppositories mentioned in the Egyptian Ebers papyrus of 1550 BCE to the complex tablets, injections and inhalers in current use. Today nearly three-quarters of medicines dispensed to patients are tablets and capsules. A typical pharmacy now dispenses about as many prescriptions in a working day as a mid-nineteenth- century chemist did in a whole year.
Circling around Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Middle East, into the UK, then around the world before zipping back and forth through time to define terms and find examples in a way that’s meant for a middle-school textbook about foods and plants as medicine, the origin of how we think about infection and contamination, measuring medication, and forming treatments.NetGalley, Kristine Fisher
An extremely detailed history of medicine, herbal supplements, dental health, and more. Very interesting for the curious-minded individual. Anyone in the medical field will find this answering questions they didn’t know they had. Curious little tidbits that are actually good conversation starters as well as for discussion with other medical professionals. For example, a patient bringing up the history of toothpaste to her dentist. Also good for midwives and health practitioners and herbalists.NetGalley, Mary Antzak
Firstly, I’m neither a pharmacist nor a physician: I am simply a layman and thus unqualified to judge the accuracy of the contents of A History of the Medicines We Take. I wanted to read the book because of a general interest in history and what goes into my body.NetGalley, Colin Edwards
The book is fascinating. Part One runs through a history of medicines from prehistoric times to the latest biotechnology, showing that the understanding of drugs and their effect is constantly progressing. Part Two demonstrates the same progression of improvement in how those drugs can be administered, e.g. via by mouth, by injection, patches, etc..
The book shows how pharmacy started with individuals who would note what plants were beneficial for certain conditions; how pharmacists would make up tablets and powders by hand; and how the need to deliver medicines to the growing population in British cities and the US resulted in companies like Pfizer and Wellcome.
Dioscorides wrote De Materia Medica in the first century AD and included several uses for willow leaves and bark. We now know that willow contains salicin which breaks down to form salicylic acid. We take that as aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). However, although there may be sound science behind the use of some ancient remedies, I’m not tempted to try the cure for baldness noted in a papyrus: lion fat, hippopotamus fat, crocodile fat, cat fat, serpent fat and ibex fat.
To reassure you that the book isn’t all about ancient history, it discusses the latest medicine too. The NHS saved £210m in 2017-18 by switching to biosimilars for just three patented drugs.
It was an interesting read and I recommend it for anyone interested in the history of science.NetGalley, Stephen Goldberg
The book covers lots of information about medicines and is well thought out and very well researched.NetGalley, Hazel Thomson
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Jen Tangen
Great fun for me! BUT. I am a retired RN who has cared for patients in multiple settings in the US, a history geek, love reading both historical fiction and nonfiction, and learned some very interesting things.
A History of the Medicines We Take was an entertaining read in many respects. I certainly learnt a few things along the way, and much of the information was interesting.NetGalley, Nicki Markus
An interesting, delightful, and well-researched look at the history of medicines we take today. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride through the ages as each time period's contribution was reviewed. I also really enjoyed the history of how the dosing and delivery of medications evolved. I have always been fascinated by the science behind medicines and the sense of exploration the scientists demonstrated in the development of pioneer treatments. Medication development requires calculated risk, creativity, and dedication to progress. Despite the complex nature of medications, this book did a great job of breaking it down into simple to understand segments and tied it all together in a natural progression. While those with medical or pharmacology backgrounds will likely get the most out of the specific, detailed content, lay people will learn a lot and appreciate the complexity of medicine. There are takeaways for all levels of interest and learning.NetGalley, Brandi Rawlins
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Jenny Dunne
This book grabs you from the very first paragraph describing the earliest forms of medicine used leading on to how animals use plants to treat their ailments – zoopharmacognosy. It goes on to describe how humans noticed these behaviours to investigate the plants for their own needs. The description of the archaeology of medicinal plants used by early man is fascinating. Its full of interesting facts and very accessible.
I would recommend this book to students of pharmacology as it helps to put modern day medicine into perspective.NetGalley, Tanja Flanjak