‘Plant of Joy’ – Anesthesia


It is rightly believed that among the oldest means of general anesthesia was opium poppy, known in Mesopotamia. The ‘plant of joy’, as the Sumerians called it, is often present in images of the goddess of writing and science, Nisaba.

Somewhere in the VIII century, thanks to Arab merchants, opium poppy appeared in India and China.

Thanks to Dutch doctors, European surgical practices, called ‘sensitivity loss’, became known in Japan, where they entered the scientific discipline, among other things known as rangaku.

Among those who studied ‘Dutch science’ was Dr. Hanaoka Seishu. With deep knowledge of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, he has worked since 1795 to restore the lost formula of mayfezan. After a long period of experimentation, including on his wife, who lost her sight due to side effects, he created a drink, Cusensan, as Hanaoka called him, immobilized the person, paralyzing skeletal muscles, making him insensitive to pain for several hours, after what he lost consciousness and, depending on the dosage, could be unconscious for a quarter to a day.

On October 13, 1804, 60-year-old Kang Aya, a 60-year-old woman suffering from breast cancer, underwent a partial mastectomy using tsusensan. Described in detail in his ‘Surgical Book’, this operation is considered the first of the documented surgical interventions performed under general anesthesia…

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