Thursday, January 08, 2009

Aspro - A Si Po Lo

What did our grand parents and uncles and aunties take in the 50's and 60's Sibu?

If we did not go to a doctor (e.g. Dr. Xavier) we would just take a tablet or two of Aspro ( or ah si polo in foochow) It was the Penadol of those days. Most of our parents could buy several packets of Aspro from the local drug stores so that they could be ever ready for any ache or pain.

At first the Aspro tablets came in the pink package as shown in the photo and they were not the efferverscent type . They were sold by the Chinese drug stores like Thian SengTongDrug Store (4 Cross Road)

(I digitalized this advertisement from a very old magazine published in Sibu in the 1950's)

owned by Chang Kung Lung which imported medicines from Japan and other foreign countries. Mr. Chang also operated the Sibu Hotel situated at No. 2 Kampong Pulau Road. I remember him as a very fair Chinese man ( One of the few Cantonese in Sibu) who was very stern looking. He would stand behind hisw glass cabinets and take out the medicine . His wife was also helping in the shop. Later his son took over most of the business.

As far as I can remember the first fully registered western pharmacy was opened only in the 1970's called the United Medical Hall. The owner was a Mr. Tiong . However I believe he was not really a western educated pharmacist but someone who had some kind of training in Singapore. However I may be wrong but he did make a huge fortune.

Later there was the Aspro clear effervescent tablet which we enjoyed watching as they were thrown into a glass of water and the tablet would dissolve.

I really liked to take these tablets and they helped me clear my headaches. And I like the name also on my tongue - ah si polo.

These tablets actually contain the active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid, otherwise known as aspirin. (NB. Aspirin is also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine.)

Aspirin belongs to a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It works by blocking the action of a substance in the body called cyclo-oxygenase.

Aspirin in low doses, eg 75-100mg, does not have this effect and is used instead as an anti-clotting or blood-thinning agent.Aspirin is also used in the emergency situation of a heart attack. Anyone who has the symptoms of a heart attack (chest pain, possibly radiating towards the arm or neck, shortness of breath) should take one 300mg aspirin tablet as soon as possible, as this has been shown to increase the chances of surviving a heart attack. This is because the aspirin prevents the blood clot that is blocking the supply of blood to the heart from growing any bigger. The tablet can be crushed under the tongue for faster absorption into the bloodstream, as the area under the tongue is very rich in blood vessels.

Mild to moderate pain including headache, migraine, neuralgia, toothache, sore throat, period pain.

Relieving aches, pains and fever associated with colds and flu.

Relieving pain and inflammation of sprains and strains, rheumatic pain, sciatica, backache, fibrositis, muscular aches and pains, joint swelling, and stiffness.

To improve survival in emergency situation of a heart attack.

However children under 16 years of age should not take aspirin, unless on the advice of a doctor. This is because aspirin use in children has been associated with a rare condition called Reye's syndrome. This condition affects the brain and liver and though extremely rare, can be fatal.

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