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The History of Antibiotics

May be everyone has ever taken antibiotic for some reason. Antibiotics like Penicillin and Terramycin are often prescribed even when they are not needed. Your doctor may have told you to take antibiotics to ease the symptoms and treat infections like boils, pneumonia and fever. Certainly you have tried an antibiotic unguent to treat bad cuts or scrapes.

Antibiotics are often called "miracle drugs" because they are very efficient against infections. But the truth is that they are not "miracle drugs". It will better to name them "microbe drugs". The name "antibiotic" comes from two Greek words which mean "against life". Antibiotic consist of ingredients which stop the growth of bacteria.

The first records of antibiotic usage come from more than 3000 years ago. At that time Asian people have already found certain moulds that cure infections. Despite the Indians of Central America and the Chinese had not known the essence of treatment and diseases, they had used molds to treat infected wounds. And they had done it efficiently. They believed in spiritualism and magic. They thought that moulds send away evil spirits which cause the disease. Nowadays, things do not stand the same way. People have already gained some knowledge for the infections. In the 1860s, a French scientist Louis Pasteur found that bacteria cause some diseases and it can be fight against using other bacteria. There starts the true knowledge about bacteria and infections.

The first men who made an effective medicine from bacteria were Rudolf Emmerich and Oskar Low, two doctors from Germany. They also find out that microbes which cause a disease may successfully cure another disease. The germs were taken from infected bandages. The two doctors grew tem in test tubes. They successfully isolated a bacterium, known now as Bacillus pyocyaneus, which colors infected and opened wounds in green. The Germans put some of these bacteria Bacillus pyocyaneus in test tubes with other germs. The result of the experiment was that the Bacillus pyocyaneus killed the other bacteria. Fortunately, the killed bacteria happened to be germs which cause cholera, diphtheria, anthrax and typhoid fever.

Rudolf Emmerich and Oskar Low decided to use the bacteria Bacillus pyocyaneus to make a medicine which will cure infections. They named the medicine "pyocyanase". It was expected to be the first antibiotic widely used for treatment oh patients in hospitals. Alas, the two German doctors had not realized that it was too early to present such a medicine. It was discovered that some of the patients who take "pyocyanase" get better but some of them get even worse. Nobody was aware of how this drug worked and how to control its action. This caused prohibition against taking pyocyanase.

A safe and effective antibiotic was really needed. Physicians did not know how to heal infections. Such medicine was not found until 1928. Then, a scientist named Alexander Fleming made a discovery that shook the antibiotic medicine to its foundations. He was carrying a study on the bacteria called Staphylococcus aureaus. It is the cause for complaints which lead to brain diseases. He found that moulds in one of his petri dishes became spoiled. He ascertained the fact that the mold had eliminated the germs around it because there was an antiseptic ring of gelatin around the spot of mold. Later he named the mold penicillin.

Unfortunately, penicillin could not cure diseases such as the bubonic plague. Because of this, an American, Dr. Selman Waksman discovered a medicine which he called streptomycin which was effective against other diseases.

Not later, sulfonamides were discovered. They were drugs made of chemicals that are used for dye production. They proved to be very effective against diseases caused by infections. Regrettably, sulfa drugs gave very serious side effects. It was found that sulfa drugs weakened bacteria rather than kill it. However, weakening the germs gives the body a chance to recover.

About the Author: Robert has created several successful websites including Medical Basics 101

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