Dramamine Became A Nausea Cure By Accident
Dramamine is a recreational drug that people take to feel good or to hallucinate. At least, that's what we're told. We have no firsthand experience whatever about that. What we do know for sure is that Dramamine's a motion sickness pill, and if you pop 20 of them recreationally, that's an entirely unintended use. And in fact, originally, its use for motion sickness was also unintended.
Johns Hopkins scientists Leslie Gay and Paul Carliner developed Dramamine as an antihistamine, for allergies. In 1947, a woman (unnamed by history) showed up at their allergy clinic with a case of hives and was willing to try out their experimental drug. "Compound 1694" cleared the hives up. Also, possibly related to the little yellow pill, she didn't feel motion sick on arriving at the clinic, despite taking the streetcar, which normally made her want to hurl.
Gay and Carliner tried giving the drug to other motion sick people, and it caused instant relief. Then, for a wider trial, they gave the drug to 1,376 soldiers shipping out to Germany. These soldiers had no say in whether they were participating in the experiment, but when you join the military, you pretty much accept that you're not going to be making many personal choices for a bit. Every soldier but one who got seasick felt better after taking the Dramamine.
It really was fortuitous that that one woman who took the drug reported the side effect. While seasickness is very common, not a lot of people walking into a clinic off the street feel motion sick. If you get car sick or train sick, doctors would expect you to avoid that particular mode of transport if possible on the day of your experimental drug trial.
But Gay and Carliner weren't that surprised to learn Compound 1694 had some alternative use. Medicine is an inexact science, and any random drug is likely to affect the body in various unexpected ways. You may well have heard about how Viagra was a blood pressure medication before test subjects reported unexpected erections. And let's not forget all those artificial sweeteners discovered by accident when scientists tasted random chemicals. You generally should not taste random chemicals, but scientists still do, hoping for unexpected erections.
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