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Old 07-21-2003, 09:40 PM   #1
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Got a headache? Read this!

Ancient headache cures proven effective
Bob Beale
ABC Science Online
Monday, 21 July 2003



Garlic may have properties to help headache sufferers (Pic: Michigan Dept of Agriculture)


Many ancient headache treatments, recorded by Persian physicians, have been proven in modern-day studies to be effective pain relievers according to a new German report.

Medieval Persian texts revealing that opium and cannabis were often used, as well as oil from willow trees - from which aspirin was derived centuries later - suggest that many other such remedies should be scientifically tested for therapeutic value as well, says Dr Ali Gorji, of the Institute for Physiology, Munster University, in Germany, in a report in the journal Trends in Pharmacological Sciences.

"Despite progress in the development of therapy in recent years, effective and potent drugs are still required for the treatment of headache," Gorji says. "The search for new pharmacologically active analgesics obtained from plants has led to the discovery of some clinically useful drugs that, during the past two centuries, have played a major role in the treatment of human diseases. However, most medicinal plants prescribed by Persian physicians remain largely unexamined."

Persian headache treatments go back to the 6th century BC, but physicians there in the medieval era scrupulously observed and diagnosed different headache types and assembled much information on traditional remedies from ancient Greece, Egypt, India and China to augment their own innovative treatment arsenal, he says.

In turn, Persian medical theories and knowledge were brought to the West during the renaissance and some of them have influenced medicine ever since, although they are little recognised as such.

"Medieval Persian physicians described the treatment of headache using many substances with variable modes of action. They attributed the therapeutic actions of plants to a specific analgesic, sedative or prophylactic drug property of variable strength," he says.

Their medicines were mainly applied topically to the head: they were mixed with vinegar, the head was shaved and the skin was washed with water and salt to increase their penetration. To reduce side-effects and dilute potent substances, some were mixed with flour, egg white, or milk. Others were given orally, nasally and rectally.

Treatment plans, which recognised trauma and environmental factors as the causes of some headaches, included abstinence from certain foods or activities, foot and head massage, as well as the use of ointments, essential oils and even leeches. All are finding renewed favour in mainstream and alternative medicine today.

Medicine cabinet in the garden

But it is the long list of medicinal herbs and plant extracts - some of them toxic in large doses recorded in these old documents that Gorji believes may hold hidden chemical treasures. They include garlic, camomile, artemisia, deadly nightshade, camphor, caraway, frankincense, myrrh, saffron, spearmint, turmeric, henna, Spanish lavender, gum arabic and rose oil.

Myrrh, for example, has been shown to delay the onset of pain in mice through its interaction with the brain receptors for narcotic drugs such as opium. Opium poppy itself - and cannabis - was widely used by the Persians for strong pain and was applied to the skin or ingested.

Garlic contains antioxidants and other active compounds that may inhibit some of the causes of migraines, and frankincense has been shown to have pain-relieving and sedative effects in rats. Rose oil, which was prescribed for recurrent unilateral and bilateral headaches, contains several active substances including eugenol, which acts on pain receptors in the spinal cord in rats.

"Medieval Persian physicians accumulated all the existing information on medicine at that time and added to this knowledge their own astute observations and experimentation, with the introduction of many new remedies," said Gorij. "Such information provides comprehensive data on clinical remedies based on centuries of experience in the field of headache, and thus might help the testing of the probable benefits of these remedies for the treatment of cephalic pain [headache]."
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Old 07-21-2003, 09:46 PM   #2
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garlic
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Old 07-21-2003, 09:48 PM   #3
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Yeah.....gotta love garlic. I knew it was great for stuffy noses and other cold/flu symptoms. I had no idea they'd ever used it for headaches until I saw this article.
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Old 07-21-2003, 10:43 PM   #4
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It's worth trying.
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Old 07-22-2003, 07:39 AM   #5
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i'm sick of getting bad headaches!!!
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Old 07-22-2003, 01:58 PM   #6
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Now if I can just find something for backaches. Ouch!!
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Old 07-22-2003, 04:06 PM   #7
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Great article! Thanks!

But I think I'll stick to my good old tablets! ( I'm such a druggie when it comes to headaches, I can't stand them. )
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