I reblog this piece because it describes something which is not often considered beyond a relatively small circle. It is also pleasing to read of one of my heroes, Charles Waterton. Please do read this and other posts on their blog. Who knows, you too may get hooked on anaesthetics; in a benign way, of course.
The Amazonian arrow poison that revolutionised Anaesthesia
The Anaesthesia Heritage Centre has opened a new temporary exhibition on muscle relaxants. It showcases authentic curare weapons alongside anaesthetic equipment to tell the history of muscle relaxants in the practice of anaesthesia.
Curare is a deadly poison found in the Amazonian Basin of South America. When injected into the bloodstream it acts as a muscle relaxant which paralyses and asphyxiates prey.
[TRIBAL ELDER BINAN TUKUM HUNTING WITH HIS SON FOR MONKEYS IN THE RAINFOREST. COPYRIGHT LAZLO MATES]
Curare was the first muscle relaxant (or neuro-muscular blocking agent) to be introduced into western medicine. It revolutionised the practice of anaesthesia and allowed life saving operations, which were previously considered too dangerous, to be performed for the first time.
South American tribes will shoot curare coated darts or arrows from blow pipes and bows to kill or stun animals for food and…
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