The primary motive was to save countless lives that were lost every year by diseases and conditions unknown to the physicians of the time. This led to the increased practice of surgery which was often hindered by the excruciating pain it brought to the patients.
In an effort to relieve pain during surgery, surgeons employed all kinds of means they could. Some used derivatives of herbs and plant extracts like opium and marijuana and others preferred alcohol concoctions to knock out a patient. Some even went as far to consider physically placing a blow on the head to render unconsciousness. Such processes were arbitrary and often rendered detrimental consequences emphasizing the need of an effective anesthetic agent.