In today’s regulatory environment, because of its
gastrointestinal side-effects, acetylsalicylic acid might would
not likely be approved as an over-the-counter medicine. Although
there are numerous alternative non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs, including natural ones such as figwort (which has almost no
side effects), aspirin remains the most widely used.
How aspirin works remained a mystery until 1971, when John
Robert Vane, showed aspirin “suppressed the production of
prostaglandins and thromboxanes.” Prostaglandins are cell
messengers and have many roles in the body, such as causing
constriction and dilation of muscle cells, aggregating platlets,
and regulating inflammation; thromboxanes help form blood clots.
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