Article ID: CBB000933025

“Fabelhafte Dinge”: Arzneimittelnarrative zu Coca und Cocain im 19. Jahrhundert (2009)


Fabulous Things. Drug Narratives about Coca and Cocaine in the 19th Century. This contribution focuses on the history of Coca leaves and Cocaine in the second half of 19th century Europe. Even though, to date, no direct link has been established between the activities of the Milano physician Paolo Mantegazza, and the Göttingen chemist Friedrich Wöhler, it is not a mere coincidence that both published their findings in the same year, namely, 1859. Mantegazza authored the first treatise claiming that Coca had psychoactive qualities and touted its broad therapeutic faculties; he claimed that it should be introduced into European pharmacotherapy. In Wöhler's laboratory, cocaine was isolated from leaves by his pupil Alfred Niemann; later, Wilhelm Lossen refined and corrected Niemann's results. Narratives about medicinal drugs often streamline history into a story that starts with multiple meanings and impure matters and ends with well-defined substances, directed at clear-cut diseases and symptoms. In the case of Coca, however, the pure substance triggered no such process well into the 1880s, whereas the leaves continued to circulate as an exotic, pluripotent drug whose effects where miraculous and yet difficult to establish.


Description On the coincidental work of Milano physician Paolo Mantegazza and the Göttingen chemist Friedrich Wöhler who both published on the psychoactive qualities of Coca leaves.

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Authors & Contributors
Pieters, Toine
Snelders, Stephen
Gootenberg, Paul
Herzberg, David
Spillane, Joseph F.
Kaplan, Charles D.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Comparative Studies in Society and History
Osmanli Bilimi Arastirmalari: Studies in Ottoman Science
Medicina nei Secoli - Arte e Scienza
Atti e Memorie, Rivista di Storia della Farmacia
Johns Hopkins University Press
Princeton University Press
University of North Carolina Press
Matthiesen Verlag
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick
Inner Traditions
Psychotropic drugs
Pharmaceutical industry
Narcotics and drugs
Freud, Sigmund
Bignon, Alfredo
Mariani, Angelo François
Corti, Bonaventura
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
18th century
17th century
Latin America
United States
Prussia (Germany)
National Medical Institute (NMI)

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