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    Intoxicating ethanol in old-time painkiller now fuels cars and drunks

    “Every trader and storekeeper in the prairie provinces (then the North West Territories) is affected by a court ruling that bans the sale of a popular painkiller,” the Battleford Saskatchewan Herald reported December 2, 1878.

    The court ruled that the painkiller, Jamaican ginger extract, is an intoxicant, and as such its importation is prohibited by an Act of the North West Territories.

    “Heretofore it has been treated as an ordinary article of merchandise, useful for medical purposes, and from its portability well adapted to the trade of the plains,” the Herald states. “No exception has ever been taken to the sale of essence of ginger in the Saskatchewan District, and none of those who dealt in it had any idea that they were contravening the law. Now, however, its sale has been interdicted, and licenses are required to sell pain-killer and kindred preparations.”

    Chemists would later find that Jamaican ginger extract contains, by weight, 70 to 80 percent ethanol, an alcohol now used as a gasoline additive to reduce global-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Many of those who drank Jamaican ginger were undoubtedly left “feeling no pain.”

    Ethanol is still being widely drunk, sometimes with good and sometimes with bad effects, according to Dr. Ethan Cowan, in an online article Ethanol intoxication in adults. Dr. Cowan writes:

    “Two-thirds of American adults consume beverages containing ethanol (ethyl alcohol), and moderate ethanol intake appears to reduce the risk of myocardial infarction and other heart diseases. However, up to 10 percent of adults in the United States abuse ethanol, and acute ethanol intoxication is associated with a number of complications including traffic accidents, domestic violence, homicide, and suicide. Uncomplicated ethanol intoxication is estimated to be responsible for over 600,000 emergency department visits each year in the United States.”

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    TAGS: Painkillers, Jamaican ginger, Alcohol, Ethanol, Intoxication, Heart attacks, Traffic accidents, Illness

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