So what was in that medical bag? Let's start with an ordinary medicine most of us have in our medicine cabinets, aspirin. In it's familiar form it has not been around forever. While infusions of willow bark have been used as painkillers by indigenous people and folk healers for centuries, the mixture was terribly irritating to the stomach. ASPIRIN, the Bayer trademark for an acetyl salicylic acid compound was developed in something like its present form just before the turn of the last century. In 1899 Felix Hoffman added an acetyl group compound to salicylic acid (from willow bark) to reduce its irritant properties. By 1900 it was a familiar tool in the medical tool box. Aspirin is probably the least harmful of the painkillers used at that time and on to the present day.
Of course, Robert had other pain killers in his doctors bag. What about a painkiller for surgery? Aspirin just wouldn't cut it, so to speak. Next time, heavy duty painkillers from previous decades. And this is scary stuff!! Stay tuned for laudanum.
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