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[F. W. Sertürner and the discovery of morphine. 200 years of pain therapy with opioids].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Zentrum Anaesthesiologie, Rettungs- und Intensivmedizin, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen.


Since many centuries mankind has been aware of the poppy (papaver somniferum) and has known its product opium as an analgesic drug. Until the beginning of the 19 (th) century its compounds were not known, making it almost impossible to apply the substance in exact doses. 1803/04, Friedrich Wilhelm Sertürner (1783 - 1841) succeeded in isolating a crystalline substance from opium in the test tube, which he called morphium. In animals and in man he was able to prove that this new compound he had discovered was the principium somniferum of opium. He isolated morphine, the first pure opioid available for calculated pain therapy with one defined compound. Moreover, he laid the foundations of a new class of pharmaceutical drugs, the alcaloids.

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