Migraines are more than just headaches. Migraine symptoms, which affect approximately one in seven people around the world, can include throbbing pain on one side of the head, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and vision problems called auras. Today, several classes of medications are prescribed either to prevent migraines or to stop them once they have begun. But in previous centuries, migraine treatments were neither very practical nor as effective.
Whether using scalpels or leeches, bleeding was the most common cure for migraines (and many other ailments) before the advent of modern medicine. For most of history, Western physicians have subscribed to the humoral theory that human health is governed by four fluids (moods) that must be kept in equilibrium. The disease was explained as an imbalance of moods and it was thought that bleeding would rebalance the system. The methods have varied, however. In the case of migraines, the Greek doctor Aretaeus suggested sticking a barbed goose feather over the unhappy patient's nose and pushing it until the blood flows.
Even in the 18th century, it was still believed that bleeding could help migraines. The Swiss doctor Samuel Auguste Tissot, who was the first to describe migraines as a distinct disease in the 1770s, recommended bleeding, better hygiene and a diet, as well as medications including infusions of orange leaves. and valerian.
The 11th century physician, Abu al-Qasim, suggested planting a clove of garlic in the head of the migraine. He offered a practical recipe:
"Take a garlic; peel and cut at both ends. Make an incision with a large scalpel in the temple and keep under the skin a cavity wide enough to introduce the garlic and conceal it completely. Apply compresses and tighten them, let it stay for about 15 hours, then remove the device. Extract the garlic, leave the wound for two or three days, then apply cotton soaked in butter until it suppures.
Once the wound began to ooze (which was considered a good sign), the doctor cauterized the incision with a hot iron. Cauterization was intended to prevent infection, although modern research has shown that it actually lowers the threshold for bacterial infections.
Suction shaping – inversion of warm glass vessels on the patient's body – would have the same function as bleeding. Nicolaes Tulp, famous Dutch doctor, represented in Rembrandt's painting dating from 1632 The anatomy lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, treated a migraineux in suckers. She quickly recovered.
A substance called cantharidin, a powerful blister secreted by the Meloidae Coleoptera family, was also applied as part of the tasting and blistering process to attract bad moods. Unfortunately, if cantharidin was administered too long, it could be absorbed into the body and cause painful urination, gastrointestinal and renal dysfunction, as well as an organ failure. (Perhaps independently, cantharidin has also been used as an aphrodisiac.)
One of the oldest types of surgery, trepanation involves cutting a part of the skull and exposing the brain tissue to the treatment of injuries or chronic diseases such as migraines. The Dutch physician of the 16th century, Petrus Forestus, who painstakingly recorded the ailments and treatments of his patients, performed a trepanation on a person suffering from incurable migraines. In brain tissue, he found what he called a "black worm." According to a 2010 study by neurologist Peter J. Koehler, the mass could have been a chronic subdural hematoma, a build-up of blood between the brain surface and its extremities. covering – and a possible cause of the patient's agony.
5. dead moles
Ali ibn Isa al-Kahhal, the leading ophthalmologist of the medieval Muslim world, described more than 130 diseases and eye treatments in his innovative monograph. Tadhkirat al-kaḥḥālīn (The notebook of oculists). Although his descriptions of the ocular anatomy are well founded, he also spoke about remedies for headaches. Here his prescriptions seem more suspicious. To treat migraines, he suggested tying a dead mole to the head.
6. electric fish
Long before scientists fully understood the principles of electricity, doctors at the time had recommended it as a cure for migraine. Scribonius Largus, doctor of the court of the Roman emperor Claude, found that the torpedo fish, also called electric ray, originating from the Mediterranean Sea, had the power to shock all those who touched it. Largus and other doctors have prescribed shocks to cure headaches, gout and anus prolapse.
In the mid-eighteenth century, a Dutch newspaper reported that the electric eel, found in South America, emitted even more powerful shocks than Mediterranean fish and was used to relieve the head. One observer wrote that people with headaches "put one hand on their head and the other on the fish, and will be helped immediately, without exception".
7. Mud foot baths
Compared to expired rodents, hot footbaths must have a distinctly decadent sound for those who suffer from extreme pain. Nineteenth-century doctors suggest that migraine sufferers go to Marienbad (now Marianske Lazne) and Karlsbad (today Karlovy Vary), two spa towns in the current Czech Republic. While mineral waters were useful in relieving congestive headaches, it was believed that mud-foot baths drew blood to the feet and moved it away from the head, thus calming the nervous system. "The footbath should not be taken too hot and the feet should be rubbed over each other while washing the mud and then with a thick towel. A brisk walk can be used to maintain circulation, "suggested Apollinaris Victor Jagielski, a Prussian army doctor, in 1873.