The contraceptive pill is one of the most important scientific advances of mankind. But few know that it is closely related to a Mexican tuber. It is the barbasco, which grows in the south. Since the middle of the 20th century, it has been used in the production of synthetic steroid hormones. This is the story of the origin of the contraceptive pill.
The barbasco grows in the southeast of the Latin American country. Already the Mayas used it to cure diseases, or as a poison to embed in their arrows.
“Many do not know the origin of the contraceptive pill. It is not only created in Mexico, but it is through natural resources from southeastern Mexico that it is possible. Steroid hormones are synthesized. And this is very important. This is where cortisone, the contraceptive pill and more than 300 medicines come from. All of them derived from barbasco,” explains Gabriela Soto Laveaga. She is an academic at Harvard University.
Thanks to this raw material, reproductive medicine and pain treatment achieved considerable advances.
For many years, barbasco was collected by Mexican peasants. Later, scientific research on its properties was deepened.
“The barbasco collectors made the language of chemistry and science their own. This made it possible for them to open up new lives in the field. And to challenge the notion of what it meant to be Mexican in the mid-20th century,” says the expert.
One of the inventors of the contraceptive pill is the Austrian Carl Djerassi. But the Mexicans George Rosenkranz and Luis Ernesto Miramontes participated. Both appear in the original patent of this drug.
The discovery of the pill happened in Mexico on October 15, 1951. It was a research promoted by the Mexican laboratory Syntex, according to Notimex. And it became one of the discoveries that changed the world.