Cocaine History

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Although the use of the coca plant dates back as far as 3000 B.C when the Incas would chew on the leaves to offset the effects of living at a high altitude, cocaine was not discovered until 1859 when "German chemist Albert Niemann first extracted cocaine from the coca plant 's leaves" (History of Cocaine Dec. 9, 2016). Unfortunately, even after the discovery of cocaine, it wasn 't until the 1880 's when research into the medical applications of the drug truly began. (History of Cocaine Dec. 9, 2016). The biggest breakthrough in the medical field in regards to the use of cocaine was in the field of ophthalmology, as it proved to be an excellent anesthetic as well as vasoconstrictor (Altman, 1985). Besides ophthalmology, cocaine also proved …show more content…
However, prior to 1884, there had been several other similar discoveries including in 1860, when Albert Niemann discovered that the drug numbed his tongue shortly after application. (Grzybowski 297) Although Carl Koller was the main individual responsible for the discovery of the anesthetic properties of cocaine, a good amount of credit is also given to Sigmund Freud who originally encouraged Koller to study the effect of cocaine on the eye (Grzybowski 298). Cocaine aided operations on the eyes not only because of the anesthetic properties, but also because of the ability to reduce bleeding through vasoconstriction (Grzybowski 298). Even today, cocaine remains the only drug with both anesthetic and vasoconstrictive properties (Barash 193). In 1902, Heinrich Friedrich Willhelm Braun, a German surgeon, furthered the development of modern anesthesia by adding adrenaline to the cocaine solution which would help slow the process of absorption and make the numbing effect last longer; in turn, using this new solution would increase the amount of time surgeon 's would have to operate before the effects wore off completely (Grzybowski 299). Cocaine seemed to be the breakthrough in local anesthesia that many were searching for, the possibilities seemed endless and while cocaine solutions were mostly …show more content…
Since 1885 when the application of cocaine in neuro-ophthalmology was discovered, "the use of cocaine has become a standard diagnostic substance for the confirmation of the impairment of the sympathetic pathways, in clinical use mainly for Horner 's syndrome" (Grzybowski 299). Because cocaine acts by its capacity to inhibit the reuptake of dopamine, serotonin and nor-adrenaline in the central nervous system, there are increased levels of these neurotransmitters in the synaptic cleft. "A recent study has suggested that the combination of phenylephrine and cocaine can induce mydriasis as a indicator of the systematic reduction in the sympathetic innervation, which could aid in the diagnosis of Parkinson 's disease" (Grzybowski 300). Horner 's syndrome is a result of the disruption of the ipsilateral sympathetic pathway. If any part of the sympathetic pathway is disrupted, cocaine will fail to dilate the pupils which means it is a good indication of the presence of Horner 's syndrome. The use of cocaine to diagnose Horner 's syndrome is a form of testing called pharmalogical testing. (Pilley,

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