The epidemic of Opioid Overdose in the U.S.
Before we dive into this problem and the consequences I would like to tell you a bit about the history of opium.
The story of the Papaver throughout history
Opium, also called poppy tears is the dried latex obtained from the Papaver. There is archeological evidence that humans used these seeds for food, anesthetics, and rituals. The finds are from the Mediterranean region and date back to 5000 BCE. There have been at least 17 finds of Papaver somniferum from Neolithic settlements. These settlements were found in Switzerland, Germany, and Spain.
Evidence of the use of the poppy seed was found In a burial site in the Cueva de los Murcielagos, (Bat Cave) in Spain. The Greek and many more cultures (the Sumerian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Indian, Minoan, Roman, Persian, and Arab Empires) used it on a regular basis. In those times it was the most potent form of pain relief. The first know poppy farm was in Mesopotamia, approximately 3400 BCE. The Sumerians called the plant Hul Gil which means joy plant.
Akbar the Great Mogul lived from 1542 to 1605. He was the third and greatest of the Mughal emperors of India. It seems that this emperor had a liking for grapes, melons, and pomegranates. He would eat these fruits when drinking wine or opium. It seems that in 1580 he would alternate between arrack or palm wine, with a spiced infusion of opium. During these times the cultivation of poppy was encouraged.
The Emperor Yongzheng
The first recorded edict against opium-smoking was issued in 1720 by the emperor Yongzheng. This emperor seems to have been quite despotic but his reign was very efficient. He reigned from 1723 to 1735 and this period was peaceful and prosperous. He cracked down on corruption and reformed the financial administration.
What happens to a camel on drugs
Charles Masson (alias of James Lewis) was born in 1800. He was the first European to appreciate the archeological heritage of Afghanistan. In one of the stories of his travels, he tells about his conductor eating opium. This man would also give opium to his camel who for a while would run quite wild and not always on the path.
Opium overdose makes violent
Louis de Grandpre was a French army officer who traveled the Indian Ocean region in 1789-90. He observed that the natives of the peninsula Malacca (Malaysia) were eating great quantities of opium, a substance they really liked. The Government had a group of guards who would patrol the streets during festivals.
Those who had taken an overdose would be prone to committing horrible crimes, often using a poniard (dagger) called Krist or Krick. The Krick is carried in a wooden sheath, has a blade of half an inch broad and eight inches long and has a serpentine form. On top of it, the blade was often poisoned. To be attacked by it meant certain death. On seeing a madman running through the streets and attacking people the guards would immediately kill him.
This is probably where the expression Run Amok stems from.
The Opium War from 1839 to 1842
The first opium war was between the United Kingdom and the Qing dynasty of China. There were various reasons for this war and trade was an important one. The big demand in Europe for silk, porcelain, and tea in the 17th and 18th centuries created a recipe for an imbalance between the 2 countries. Add to this the problem of diplomatic relations and the different views on the administration of justice in China.
Opium use in the American Civil War was widespread (1860-1865)
15 Years before the civil war started the use of anesthesia was recorded. In most cases, it was chloroform or ether which was used during amputations. Some 30.000 amputations were performed during this war and only 75% of the soldiers survived this kind of surgery. A doctor might have barely 10 minutes to perform this amputation. Later on, to combat the pain soldiers would become addicted to opium.
The opium trick for crying babies
Mrs. Mary Hume-Griffith was the wife of Dr, Albert Hume-Griffith who was a British medical missionary, From 1900-1908 they worked and lived in Persia (Iran) and in the Turkish province of Mosul (in present-day northern Iraq). While her husband was working, she would spend a lot of time with the women who lived in the Andarun (women’s quarters). She found out that it was common practice to give crying babies a little bit of opium to suck on.
The Hague Convention on drug control
The first global attempt to control the traffic in opium and related drugs like morphine, heroin, and cocaine occurred via the Hague Convention in 1912. It was signed by 42 nations. The agreement was on drugs which needed to be imported as they were necessary for medical or scientific purposes. The convention could not be implemented as the first World War broke out.
Happenings in the Dutch East Indies
By the year 1913, the import of opium to the Indonesian archipelago was forbidden. In theory, consumption was not allowed without a special license (these were normally not issued to natives). Still, there were a few towns in the Dutch East Indies where the smoking of opium was permitted. During that time, there was a strong movement in Holland to abolish the opium traffic completely. It was argued that if opium was not available, then something else would take its place like alcohol or other substitutes.
There was once an incident when 25.000 Chinese coolies who were working in the tin mines in Banka (an island lying east of Sumatra) went on strike as the Government forbade the importation of opium. Only after the ban was lifted the work started again.
The Banka island is linked to a sad story from the second World War.
These are just some little tit-bits of the history on poppy. Later on, a method of injecting directly into the veins was invented and that promoted the development of morphine and other derivatives of opium.
The opioid epidemic
Nowadays we are suffering an opioid epidemic. I think this is the time to define what is an opiate and what is an opioid. According to Casa Palmera, “there are three classifications of opiates…”. Naturally occurring opium and its derivatives including morphine, partially synthetic derivatives of morphine (called opioids) such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone, and finally the third type, fully synthetic compounds like Fentanyl, Alfentanil, Levorphanol, Meperidine, Methadone, Codeine, and Propoxyphene.
Up until modern times, we have witnessed the positive benefits and the negative problems with natural opium and its natural products. However, natural things cannot be patented and that is where synthetic (fully or partially) opioids come in. Big Pharma can patent synthetic opioids and make a very large profit.
Especially if the natural derivatives of opium are strictly controlled. It appears that a prescription for an opioid can be easily obtained, so synthetic opioids are flooding the streets with devastating results. It is hard to comprehend that more than 100 people die each day of opioid overdoses and 40% is from prescribed painkillers? The problem with these painkillers is that they are just as addictive as their natural counterpart.
It is curious that we prescribe methadone (a synthetic opium-mimicking chemical) to help overcome heroin addiction. Both natural opium and synthetic opioids are highly addictive. The industry has as the main goal to earn money, even if your health goes down the drain. The statistics do not lie. In 2010, around 25.000 people died from overdoses and the numbers in 2017 were almost double, 47.600 died accidentally from an overdose.
The dangers of an overdose
It turns out that in America, one is more likely to die of an opioid overdose than from a car accident. The sad thing is that this can be linked to the huge marketing efforts of Big Pharma.
In the year 2011, the NPR published an article about the addiction of Oxycodone. This is one of the most prescribed opioids in the United States. You might not believe this but it seems that in Florida, doctors prescribe this drug 10 times more than in the rest of the country. Over the past 10 years, a West Virginia town which only has a little over 3.000 inhabitants was flooded with an unbelievable 21.000.000 units of this drug. That number means 6.500 pills per resident. I could hardly believe it when I read this. Amazing these poor people are still alive.
Another amazing thing is that life expectancy has declined in recent years and that is directly related to a spike in preventable death, like overdoses. One really should ask the question of how come we get our lives shortened while healthcare is so much better?
This whole thing is not the fault of shady drug dealers, it is the licensed physicians who write these harmful prescriptions to their patients. Here comes more alarming data. From 2008 to 2012 doctors wrote more than 80 opioid prescriptions for every 100 Americans. While Big Pharma is filling their pockets, our health goes down the drain!
Lets put it this way. Doctors are being brainwashed and bribed by pharmaceutical companies. Recently there was the story of an orthopedic surgeon who received nearly $2.000.000 from companies who manufacture hip and knee replacements. I can imagine this surgeon was operating day and night. Here one also has to ask the question were all these replacements really necessary?
Doctors are not always up to date so when they are told a drug like OxyContin is safe they will prescribe it. They do not know there is overwhelming scientific evidence which proves the contrary.
Last month a new study was published in JAMA Network Open. The researchers found that there is a direct link between the marketing of opioid products to the physicians and an increase of prescriptions which result in elevated mortality from overdoses.
Between 2013 and 2015, 1 in 12 doctors received opioid-related marketing. Talking about your family doctor, some 20% received opioid marketing.
Medical healthcare has advanced a lot these last hundred years. Ailments which were impossible to heal in old times can now be healed. Many marvelous new operating procedures have been invented, so actually, all should be OK. Well, it is not OK.
Behind the scenes, many unsavory deals have been made. Big Pharma and the FDA go hand in hand. The FDA has approved and allowed certain medicines to go to market which have so many side effects that you might just recover from the original ailment to suffer numerous new ones.
This means you remain a life long client of medicine (just what Big Pharma wants). Natural healing methods using what Mother Earth offers us are not allowed, as it cannot be patented. We all would be a lot healthier changing our lifestyle and diet.
Nature offers many plant-derived solutions for pain, lack of sleep, and many more ailments the modern human suffers from. One of them is CBD oil which I have used myself and also gave it to my dog.
Source: World Library, Wikipedia, Ty Bollinger, his newsletter of January,29,2019
Photo Source: Pixabay
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