Nitroglycerin is a heavy, colorless, oily liquid produced by nitrating glycerol and it is well known for its explosive nature. First synthesized by the Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero in 1847, and then later adopted commercially by Alfred Nobel, it is the primary component is a number of explosives including dynamite. The main use of nitroglycerin, by tonnage, is in explosives and in propellants.
However, nitroglycerin is also widely used in medicine as a vasodilator to treat heart conditions, such as angina and chronic heart failure. Nitroglycerin has been one of the oldest and most useful drugs for treating and preventing attacks of angina pectoris. After more than 130 years of such use, in 2002 it was discovered that these effects arise because nitroglycerin is converted to nitric oxide in the body by mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase, and nitric oxide is a natural vasodilator in the body.