Thursday, October 31, 2013

            Morphine is used predominantly as a painkiller and to develop other, similar painkillers.  Morphine was named for the Roman god of dreams and sleep, presumably due to its numbing effect on pain and mood and the sleep it often induces.  Morphine can also, unfortunately, causes digestive upset including nausea, vomiting, and constipation, along with other side effects like seizures and a slowed heartbeat.  It is also extremely addictive, as are compounds derived from it, the so-called opiods.  Why opiods?  Morphine (and some similar compounds) come from Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy, though it can also be synthesized in a lab.  Morphine has five chiral centers (highlighted in red in the two-dimensional drawing below).

images from Wikipedia, red highlights on 2D structure mine

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