How does the pain killer Aspirin work inside the body?

Aspirin has been in the market since 1899, relieving people’s pains, fevers and inflammation. Scientific research has shown that the drug works because it affects the body’s production of prostaglandins. These substances, produced in response to stress, are in a way, opposites of aspirin: they heighten pain and stimulate fever and inflammation. Ordinarily, prostaglandins have desirable effects. When a pin pricks you, for example, your skin takes particular notice, since prostaglandins sensitize nerves that carry pain impulses to the brain. And if you get an infection from the pin prick, these substances help to increase the body temperature to fight the invading micro-organisms. Further, prostaglandins dilate blood vessels in the infected area, allowing more blood to come in to aid healing. This often causes inflammation.

Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid bonds with an enzyme that helps produce prostaglandins, preventing it from doing its work. With reduced prostaglandin production, pain, fever and inflammation ease. Research also shows that part of aspirin’s pain killing power comes simply from the placebo effect – the user’s belief that aspirin will in fact bring relief. Aspirin also reduces blood clotting, an additional property that could prevent cardiovascular diseases.

More reading:
Aspirin (Wikipedia)
History of aspirin (Wikipedia)
Prostaglandin (Wikipedia)

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