Willow bark made its way into scientific literature in 1763 through the work of English vicar Edmund Stone. It had been among folk remedies of rural workers. Stone decided to pick it out for study because he believed that remedies came in the vicinity of ailments and observed that both willows and fevers occurred commonly in swampy areas. He dispensed a fixed amount of willow bark powder every four hours to many feverish patients, recorded the results, and wrote a letter complete with a speculative explanation of its efficacy to the Royal Society of London. The specific explanation he gave turned out to be wrong and his clinical method was crude. Nevertheless, his systematic approach and attempt at a principled explanation were close to that of science.


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