Change in the New World

In: English and Literature

Submitted By dcfarsi
Words 850
Pages 4
Drugs

A great deal of attention is paid to the terrible death toll among the native inhabitants of the New World caused by the European's introduction of new diseases for which they had no immunity. It should also be noted that over half of the Europeans coming to the Americas died within a year of their arrival, usually from some fever, and that the death toll among Europeans in the interior of Africa was so great that it remained largely unexplored by them until well into the 19th century. The Europeans were quick to use native remedies for their ailments, and the bark of the chincona tree -- from which quinine was extracted -- was of great help to them. The medical establishment of Europe resisted the introduction of these new drugs, however, and it was not until the 1830's, for instance, that quinine was brought into general use. This lag has continued to be the case. It was only in 1952, for instance, that Western medical researchers recognized the value of Rauwolfia, a root that the inhabitants of India had chewed to relieve nervousness for centuries. The active substance was extracted from the root and sold as miltown, the first tranquilizer. Given this general resistance to "native remedies," the medicines and medical techniques of the new lands had relatively little effect on Europe. The importance of the drugs of the new worlds lay in another direction.
We have noted that medieval Europeans displayed violent swings of emotions. Part of this may have been simply a difference in cultural norms, but it should be noted that the men and women of medieval Europe had relatively little personal control over their states of mind. Like most other parts of the world, the Europeans had an effective depressant in alcohol, but, unlike any other of the world's civilization, they did not have an alkaloid stimulant. These were quickly important from their native lands,…...

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