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I have been using aspirin for my headaches and was never really interested in what this medication is, or what can do. I read that it is acetylsalicylic acid and that it helps with preventing heart problems too. But what is salicylic acid then? What is the main difference between acetylsalicylic acid and salicylic acid?

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As you have mentioned, aspirin is used as a prevention measure for lessening the risk of heart attack, stroke and prevents the creation of blood cloths. But, this could sometimes lead to bleeding and that is why aspirin for these purposes must be approved by a doctor. As for salicylic acid, I have heard that it is used in a form of gel for skin swelling (for removing plantar warts).
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ASA (aspirin) breaks down into salycylic acid in the bloodstream. Check out the Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspirin to see how it works.
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You've got your plethora of acetylsalicylic acid info now. Here is a good amount of information on salicylic acid and what it's used for. I'm not really answering your question here, but this ought to at least help. :)
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Salicylic acid originally came in the form of white willow tree bark extract.  People have used this park for centuries as an analgesic and antipyretic.  (fever, pain and inflammation) This had a very bitter taste and caused gastric mucosa irritation.  Around 1897 it was discovered that a simple chemical modification change to acetylsalicylic acid made it much more palatable.  It became commercially available as the first blockbuster drug and so the pharmaceutical age began.

 

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Taken from Wikipedia entry on "Acetyl"
Acetylation helps a given drug reach the brain more quickly, making the drug's effects more intense and increasing the effectiveness of a given dose. The acetyl group in acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) enhances its effectiveness relative to the natural anti-inflammatant salicylic acid.
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I mean what led to the discovery of acetylsalicylic acid from salicylic acid.
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