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William Brooke O'Shaughnessy

William Brooke O'Shaughnessy (October 1808, Limerick, Ireland - January 1889) was an Irish physician famous for his work in pharmacology and inventions related to telegraphy. He is most notable for introducing the therapeutic use of cannabis sativa to Western medicine.

Additional recommended knowledge

O'Shaughnessy studied forensic toxicology and chemistry in England, and graduated from the University of Edinburgh Medical School in 1829. In 1831, at the age of 22, he introduced intravenous fluid and electrolyte-replacement therapy in the treatment of cholera.[1] O'Shaughnessy joined the British East India Company in 1833 and moved to Calcutta, remaining in India for approximately nine years where he fulfilled the roles of surgeon, physician, professor of chemistry, and scientist.[2]

His first stint in India was marked by work in the subjects of botanical pharmacology, chemistry, telegraphy, galvanic electricity, and underwater conduction, among others. In 1841, he returned to England where he introduced cannabis sativa to Western medicine and continued his scientific writings.

In 1844, O'Shaughnessy returned to India where he worked in various government positions in the fields of pharmacology and assay. During this period he began work on various telegraph instruments and systems. After briefly returning to England in 1852, O'Shaughnessy was appointed Superintendent of Telegraphs in 1853. During the years 1853-5 he installed 3500 miles of telegraph across India and wrote numerous manuals and reports on his telegraph inventions.

In 1856, O'Shaughnessy returned to England where he was knighted by Queen Victoria for his work on the telegraph in India; he was also appointed Director-General of Telegraphs at this time. During the following years O'Shaughnessy wrote on telegraphy-related subjects, including a book of Private Codes for encrypted telegraphy.

In 1860, O'Shaughnessy returned to Europe for sick leave where he remained in obscurity until his death in January, 1889.

See also


  1. ^ Mikuriya, Tod H., MD, Marijuana Medical Papers, 1839-1972
  2. ^ Conrad, Chris. Hemp for Health. pp.20-21. "He graduated Edinburgh Medical School in Scotland. He validated folk uses of cannabis in India, discovered new applications, and ultimately recommended gunjah for a great variety of therapeutic purposes. O’ Shaughnessy established his reputation by successfully relieving the pain of rheumatism and stilling the convulsions of an infant with this strange new drug. He eventually popularized its use back in England. His most famous success came when he quelled the wrenching muscle spasm of tetanus and rabies with resin. While he could not cure this man or other terminal patients, he did observe that the medicine reduced their symptoms of spasticity and their suffering, and allowed them to reappraise their circumstances and take on a dignified acceptance of their own mortality."
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "William_Brooke_O'Shaughnessy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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