This is the trick that only man can do. To use one form of life to combat the effects of other forms of life. While the invention of gunpowder made man invincible, this weapon had no effect on certain microorganisms that were creating havoc by spreading infections. And the casualties due to infections were more than those in the bloodiest battles. It was then that a discovery was made that certain organisms, like molds, could stop the growth of harmful bacteria thus reigning in the infection level. This was the birth of antibiotics. To say that the concept of antibiotic is recent will be false. The earliest human beings with any sizable amount of brains, the Neanderthals, were known to use certain substances that can kill bacteria. But their use until the discovery of antibiotics was not prevalent. When earlier a simple cut could prove lethal, with the discovery of antibiotics the death toll due to infection was greatly reduced. Thus it opened up another area where man could venture into without having any fear. Antibiotic is the compound that is produced by certain microorganisms that have the capability to inhibit the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. Man’s fight with microorganisms is as old as the birth of man, and antibiotics ensured that man stays the winner. To know since how long this potent weapon had been used by man against microorganisms, read the article below on the interesting and amazing information on the origin and background of antibiotics.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Antibiotics
Over 50,000 years ago the Neanderthals used certain herbs and natural substances to kill the bacteria in the wounds and stop their propagation. Human remains have been found with various herbs that are said to be used for therapeutic purposes by the early man. They used both organic and inorganic substances to prevent bacterial infection.
The Egyptians during the 1550 BC extensively used substances to treat infections. They generally used a mixture of honey, lard and lint to dress up wounds. This ointment was a more effective than what was previously used because of the use of honey which not only destroys the bacterial cells but also heals the wounds. The Egyptians also used resins and onions as effective antibiotics as they have antibacterial properties. The Romans used ‘tincta in melle linamenta’ as an antibiotic. This also had honey as the main ingredient. Honey was also widely used by the Greeks to dress up their wounds. Sometimes they combined honey with copper oxide for greater effect. The use of honey as an antibiotic continued even during the World War II. Honey was mixed with lard and used to treat wounds and skin infections.
During the 1920s, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming showed that molds have very good antibacterial properties. It was perhaps the first scientific confirmation of antibiotic properties. But it is said that ancient Egyptians were the first to use molds as antibiotic. A papyrus around 1550 BC states that “wound rots….then bind on it spoiled barley bread”. They also used different types of mold to treat infections. The use of molds has also been documented by the ancient Chinese. They used molds to treat boils, carbuncles and various other skin infections. Even wine and vinegar were used as antibiotics throughout the ages.
The efforts to find powerful antibacterial substances were still going on during the 19th century. The use of beneficial bacteria to get rid of pathogens was also widely adopted. The experiments of Louis Pasteur furthered the knowledge of antibiotics a great deal. He was the first one to confirm that ‘good’ bacteria can indeed be used to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
The discovery of penicillin in the year 1928 by Alexander Fleming revolutionized the field of antibiotics. Initially his findings were not taken seriously but researches by two doctors in the late 1930 brought penicillin into clinical use. To market this product the two doctors approached British manufactures but without any success so in the summer of 1941 they went to America. Here, they managed to rope in several companies to manufacture penicillin and this is responsible for making penicillin accessible for wider use. The success of penicillin was enormous. It was effective against a huge number of infections.
The 1960s saw further research for the development of second generation antibiotics. These antibiotics are semi synthetic and can overcome some of the problems of antibiotic resistance.