Pain is a sensation felt by every living being. We know that humans feel the sensation of pain and we assume that mammals feel pain from their behavior when we stimulate pain receptors in their bodies. Mammals tend to avoid pain stimulation by moving away from that stimulation.
Given that criteria, the physical avoidance of pain, we might conclude that all living creatures feel pain when something destructive happens to their bodies. This might include plants as well, but that would be extreme conjecture.
All medical scientists describe the avoidance of pain as a means of survival. If it hurts, watch out! It might kill you! Humans have a strong instinctive desire to avoid pain.
Going to a dentist for a dental repair inspires great fear in most people, even though it is well known that the dentist will not kill you. Nonetheless, many dental patients want a light form of general anesthesia, where no pain is felt, simply for a tooth extraction, which with local anesthesia is not uncomfortable.
PAIN RELIEF IS SOMETHING NEW
Over three centuries ago, there were no medications for pain except for derivatives of the Poppy Plant. These derivatives were rarely used but were known by a few doctors.
Opium is the name for the latex produced within the seed pods of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum. The plant is believed to have evolved from a wild strain, Papaver setigerum, which grows in coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea. Through centuries of cultivation and breeding for opium, the species somniferum evolved.
Today, P. somniferum is the only species of Papaver used to produce opium. Opium contains morphine, codeine, noscapine, papaverine, and thebaine. All but thebaine are used clinically as analgesics to reduce pain without a loss of consciousness. Thebaine is without analgesic effect but is of great pharmaceutical value due to its use in the production of semisynthetic opioid morphine analogues such as oxycodone (Percodan), dihydromorphenone (Dilaudid) and hydrocodone (Vicodin).
The psychological effects of opium may have been known to the ancient Sumerians (circa 4,000 B.C.) whose symbol for poppy was hul, “joy” and gil, “plant”. The plant was known in Europe at least 4,000 years ago as evidenced by fossil remains of poppy seed cake and poppy pods found in the Neolithic Swiss Lake Dwellings. Opium was probably consumed by the ancient Egyptians and was known to the Greeks as well. Our word opium is derived from the Greek.
The poppy is also referred to in Homer’s works the Iliad and the Odyssey (850 B.C.). Hippocrates (460-357 B.C.) prescribed drinking the juice of the white poppy mixed with the seed of nettle.
The opium poppy probably reached China about the fourth century A.D. through Arab traders who advocated its use for medicinal purposes. In Chinese literature, there are earlier references to its use. The noted Chinese surgeon Hua To of the Three Kingdoms (220-264 A.D.) used opium preparations and Cannabis indica for his patients to swallow before undergoing major surgery.
In 1805, the German pharmacist Friedrich W. Serturner isolated and described the principal alkaloid and powerful active ingredient in opium. He named it morphium after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. We know it today as morphine.
This event was soon followed by the discovery of other alkaloids of opium: codeine in 1832 and papaverine in 1848. By the 1850s, these pure alkaloids, rather than the earlier crude opium preparations, were being commonly prescribed for the relief of pain, cough, and diarrhea. This period also saw the invention and introduction of the hypodermic syringe.
Although the chemicals from the poppy were known, they were not used.
Women in childbirth, the most severe pain known to mankind, were not given any form of relief. Yet, women had children and survived.
When I was in my last year of Medical School at the University of Bologna, our NeuroSurgery Professor made a statement in his lecture:
No human has ever died from pain!
He explained that a person could die from a heart attack which the pain had precipitated, but it was the Heart Attack, not the Pain that caused the death.
A healthy person will not die of pain – no matter how bad that pain is!
We see the truth of that statement over and over again as women give birth to children and soldiers have their arms or legs ripped off in warfare. But, today, when a person is in pain, he demands relief.
LAWS ABOUT PAIN
There are millions of people who are addicted to drugs. Again, the drugs they want come from the Poppy plant as described above. They use the drugs, not for pain, but for pleasure. The technical term is: EUPHORIA.
When these people want pleasure, they don’t listen to music or read a book or seek a partner for sex: Nope! They generally inject themselves with a derivative from the famous Poppy, grown in Aghanistan, and sold throughout the Western World in the form of HEROIN or MORPHINE.
The usual term for this type of individual is: Drug Addict. The drug refers to a chemical found in the poppy plant, and the addict describes the state of the person using the drug.
As every intelligent person knows, Nothing is Free in the Universe. If you get “pleasure” you pay a severe price in “addiction” which is one of the most painful human states.
Addicted patients who stop their Poppy plant derivative go into a dreadfully painful state of withdrawal. Their mind and body feels to them as though it were in Hell, as described by Dante’s Inferno.
Withdrawal is so psychologically painful, that the addict is compelled to find his “drug” or he thinks that he will die. This is the cause of the high crime rate amongst addicts who will stop at nothing to find enough money to purchase their drug.
Many countries in the world try to overcome the addiction by providing the addict with similar types of drug, such as Methadone.
Switzerland simply provides the addict with the forbidden drug! The Swiss say their program works. They have many people who go to “Drug Clinics” and are given injections of “Heroin”, for example, after which they go to work or go home.
This program is less than 10 years old, and the final evaluation has yet to be made. Will the “addicted” population grow or get smaller?
In the U.S., doctors in most states are now required to provide “patients” with pain relief, whether they are known addicts or not.
In China, addicts are taken into custody and “de-toxified.” Selling or carrying Narcotics in China is severely punished. Frequently with a bullet. We can see that this is a social issue, not a moral one.
Addicts have a mental flaw. They may not have pain when they use their “medicine” but they are so weak without it, that we must consider them as “disabled.”
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