Historical milestones and discoveries that shaped the toxicology sciences

  • Antoinette N. Hayes
  • Steven G. Gilbert
Part of the Experientia Supplementum book series (EXS, volume 99)


Knowledge of the toxic and healing properties of plants, animals, and minerals has shaped civilization for millennia. The foundations of modern toxicology are built upon the significant milestones and discoveries of serendipity and crude experimentation. Throughout the ages, toxicological science has provided information that has shaped and guided society. This chapter examines the development of the discipline of toxicology and its influence on civilization by highlighting significant milestones and discoveries related to toxicology. The examples shed light on the beginnings of toxicology, as well as examine lessons learned and re-learned. This chapter also examines how toxicology and the toxicologist have interacted with other scientific and cultural disciplines, including religion, politics, and the government. Toxicology has evolved to a true scientific discipline with its own dedicated scientists, educational institutes, sub-disciplines, professional societies, and journals. It now stands as its own entity while traversing such fields as chemistry, physiology, pharmacology, and molecular biology. We invite you to join us on a path of discovery and to offer our suggestions as to what are the most significant milestones and discoveries in toxicology. Additional information is available on the history section of Toxipedia (


Italian Chemist Poison Control Center Tienilic Acid Significant Milestone Amanita Phalloides 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Borzelleca JF (2007) The art, the science, and the seduction of toxicology: An evolutionary development. In: AW Hayes (ed.): Principles and Methods of Toxicology, 5th edn. Informa Healthcare, New York, 1–22Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gallo MA (2008) History and scope of toxicology. In: CD Klaassen (ed.): Casarett & Doull’s Toxicology-The Basic Science of Poisons, 7th edn. McGraw-Hill Company, New York, 3–10Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Watson KD, Wexler P, Everitt JM (2000) Highlights in the history of toxicology. In: P Wexler, PJ Hakkinen, G Kennedy, FW Stoss (eds): Information Resources in Toxicology, 3rd edn. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Stirling DA (2006) History of toxicology and allied sciences: A bibliographic review and guide to suggested readings. Int J Toxicol 25: 261–268PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ramoutsaki IA, Ramoutsakis YA, Tsikritzis MD, Tsatsakis AM (2000) The roots of toxicology: An etymology approach. Vet Hum Toxicol 42: 111PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bailey MD (2007) Magic and Superstition in Europe: A Concise History from Antiquity to the Present. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Taylor AS (1875) Medical Jurisprudence and Medicine. Henry C. Lea, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mayor A (2003) Greek Fire Poison Arrows and Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World. Overlook Duckworth, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Askitopoulou H, Ramoutsaki IA, Konsolaki E (2000) Analgesia and anesthesia: Etymology and literary history of related Greek words. Anesth Analg 91: 486–491PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hutchinson J (1997) Words to the wise: Poison arrows. Br Med J 314: 7082Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Onions CT (1939) The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: On Historical Principles. Oxford University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Milles D (1999) History of toxicology. In: H Marquardt, SG Schäfer, RO McClellan, F Welsch (eds): Toxicology. California Academic Press, San Diego, 11–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Reese JJ (1891) Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology. WMF. Fell & Co., PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Chisholm H (1911) Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 27, Horace Everett Hooper, UKGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Dubois KP, Geiling EMK (1959) Textbook of Toxicology. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Casarett LJ (1975) Origin and scope of toxicology. In: LJ Casarett, J Doull (eds): Casarett & Doull’s Toxicology-The Basic Science of Poisons. Macmillan Publishing Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Doull J, Bruce MC (1986) Origin and scope of toxicology. In: CD Klaasen, MO Amdur, J Doull (eds): Casarett & Doull’s Toxicology-The Basic Science of Poisons. Macmillan Publishing Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ziering A, Malatestinic N, Williams T, Brossi A (1970) 3’-Methyl, 8-methyl, and 8-phenyl derivatives of 5,9-dimethyl-6,7-benzomorphans. J Med Chem 13: 9–13PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Thompson CJS (1924) Poison Mysteries in History, Romance and Crime. Lippincott,Williams & Wilkins, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hucker CO (1975) China’s Imperial Past: An Introduction to Chinese History and Culture. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Shang Z (1999) [Discussion on the date of appearance of the title Shen nong ben caojing (Shennong’s Herbal Classic).] Zhonghua Yi Shi Za Zhi 29: 135–138PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Hamada T (1980) [On the arrangement of the drugs contained in “shen nong ben cao jing” (2): Botanical drugs.] Yakushigaku Zasshi 15: 26–38PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Haas LF (1999) Papyrus of Ebers and Smith. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 67: 578PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hood LJ, Leddy S, Pepper JM (2006) Leddy’s and Peppers Conceptual Basis of Professional Nursing. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Jowett B (1900) Dialogues of Plato. Collier and Son Colonial Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ashraf M (2007) Top Ten: Lives of the Greatest Monarchs of History. Lulu.comGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Saunders NJ (2006) Alexander’s Tomb: The Two Thousand Year Obsession to Find the Lost Conqueror. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    White H, Denniston JD, Robson EL (1912) Appian’s Roman History. Macmillan Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    NYT (1884) Some Famous Poisoners. New York Times, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Decker WJ (1987) Introduction and history. In: TJ Haley, WO Berndt (eds): Handbook of Toxicology. Hemisphere Publishing Corporation, New York, 1–19Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Larson E (2003) Devil in the White City: Murder Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. Random House, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Larson E (2006) Thunderstruck. Crown Publishers, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Kurian G (1998) A Historical Guide to the U.S. Government. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Szinicz L (2005) History of chemical and biological warfare agents. Toxicology 214: 167–181PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Ekino S, Susa M, Ninomiya T, Imamura K, Kitamura T (2007) Minamata disease revisited: An update on the acute and chronic manifestations of methyl mercury poisoning. J Neurol Sci 262: 131–144PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Haley TJ, Berndt WO (1987) Toxicology. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Petroianu GA (2008) The history of cholinesterase inhibitors: Who was Moschnin(e)? Pharmazie 63: 325–327PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Smith AG, Gangolli SD (2002) Organochlorine chemicals in seafood: Occurrence and health concerns. Food Chem Toxicol 40: 767–779PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Botticelli JT, Pierpaoli PG (1992) Louis Gdalman, pioneer in hospital pharmacy poison information services. Am J Hosp Pharm 49: 1445–1450PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Botting J (2002) The history of thalidomide. Drug News Perspect 15: 604–611PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag/Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antoinette N. Hayes
    • 1
  • Steven G. Gilbert
    • 2
  1. 1.Wyeth ResearchAndoverUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological DisordersSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations