Born in Cupar, Fife, Alexander Wood was one of the first pupils of Edinburgh Academy. He graduated with an MD from Edinburgh in 1839. Dr Wood conducted a general practice in the New Town of Edinburgh and lectured on the Practice of Physic in the Extra-mural School. He was an antagonist of homeopathy and published two books, 'Homeopathy Unmasked' and, a year later, 'Sequel to Homeopathy Unmasked'. To Alexander Wood goes the credit of being the first doctor in Britain to give pain-relieving drugs by the subcutaneous route. When injecting a naevus with an acid solution of chloride of iron, it occurred to him that the syringe might be used to inject a narcotic in cases of neuralgia. In an article he describes how he visited a patient suffering from cervico-brachial neuralgia at 10pm on 28th November 1853 and injected 20 drops of a solution of muriate of morphia of a strength about double that of the official preparation. When seen at 11am next day, the patient was still asleep and was aroused with difficulty. He realised that the benefit to his patient from the injection was probably from absorption of morphine and not a local effect.
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commissioned by the Fellows to mark their appreciation of the work the sitter had done for the welfare of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 1861