WLM ID: aiuz, aiuy, aiva, aivb | Catalog Record
Displayed from left to right is a bottle for Boehringer Muriate of Cocaine, a tin for menthol and cocaine throat lozenges, a bottle for powdered cocaine manufactured by Park, Davis & Co., and a glass bottle for fluid extract of cocaine manufactured by Eli Lilly and Co.
Cocaine was the first local anesthetic for regional anesthesia. Regional anesthesia involves numbing only part of the body by injecting local anesthetics into or near nerves, where they interrupt the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Cocaine is a derivative of a plant native to South America, Erythroxylon coca, or coca for short. The cultivation of the plant pre-dates the Incan civilization. Long before the arrival of European explorers, coca was used by indigenous peoples of South America as a remedy for a number of health conditions, including headaches.
In 1859, a German chemist, Albert Niemann (1834-1861) extracted the active substance from coca leaves and named it cocaine. However, it wasn't until 1884 that it became widely known as a local anesthetic. In that year Dr. Karl Koller (1857-1944), a German ophthalmologist, announced his successful use of cocaine as a topical anesthetic for eye surgery. In Europe and the United States there was an immediate surge of experimentation with cocaine, leading to revolutionary developments in regional anesthesia as well as new surgical procedures.