Migraines currently impact tens of millions of people around the world and have a presence in history. Fortunately, scientific study has continued, and the treatments have evolved along with a better understanding of migraine causes.
Let’s explore how migraine was discovered and treated in the past and what the research of our consulting scientist, Dr. Angela Stanton, tells us.
Early Research of Migraines
Migraines were (and continue to be) hard to diagnose, and treatments were even more difficult to grasp before the 19th century.
“It is almost impossible to do justice to such a vast literature spanning over 2,000 years,” JMS Pearce, from the Department of Neurology and Headache Clinic, Hull Royal Infirmary wrote in “Historical aspects of migraine,” published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry in 1986.
Accounts of migraines surfaced long before Hippocrates, the “Father of Migraines” who described the pain and auras he experienced in his writing.
In fact, the first account of migraine as a periodic syndrome is found in 3,000 B.C. Mesopotamian poems, according to Pearce.
Roman, Greek, French, and English physicians, as well as the distinguished Arabic schools of the 11th, 12th, and 13 centuries, and Ayurvedic practitioners on the Indian continent put forth incredible effort to zero in on a specific condition and find a cure.
According to Pearce the “Theories of the nature of migraine begin to embrace the rapidly developing knowledge of medicine and physiology in the nineteenth century. Inflammations and a variety of vascular disorders ranging from cerebral congestion to arterial constriction or dilatation were popular notions. Pituitary swelling or menstrual factors were claimed as causes.”
Early Treatments: From the Bizarre to the Frightening
During the struggle to remedy what were likely migraines, the range of treatments included: a clay crocodile bound to the head by Egyptians, the use of plants as laxatives courtesy of Hippocrates, cannabis as a treatment in India, leeching and bloodletting in Rome, Greece and England, while in China acupuncture was being used to treat migraine at least by the second century.
Other treatments explored in the past include herbs, spices, plasters made of earthworms, and cupping. These were the less extreme options.
On the other side of the spectrum:
Forestus, the “Dutch Hoppocrates” recommended trepanation or placing a hole in the skull of those suffering from migraine. Archaeologists have discovered that there were different methods of trephining: scraping; grooving, boring and cutting; rectangular intersecting cuts.
Claude Pouteau, an 18th Century French physician, believe cauterization, or burning part of the skull was key, but only if the patient was desperate.
And let’s not forget about incisional garlic, recommended by Abulcasis. The procedure was done only after the usual red-hot iron failed to end the migraine. It consisted of peeling and cutting the skin of the head and making an incision at the temples with a large scalpel to make space beneath the skin and completely hide the garlic.
Modern Day Migraineurs Are Still Suffering and In Danger from Common Medical Treatments
While there have been advancements in research, modern medicine is still supporting the use of harmful treatments, mainly in the form of damaging medications.
Most of the modern medications often prescribed for migraineurs “set off severe adverse effects that are often so permanent that even after quitting them, though free of migraines, the migraineur may sustain debilitating lifelong brain or heart damage,” according to Heath By Principle’s consultant scientist, Dr. Angela Stanton. These prescribed pharmaceuticals include anti-seizure medications, reuptake inhibitors, simple serotonin meds, beta blockers, and opioids/narcotics/barbiturates.
At Health By Principle, we believe in another path, one that is built upon the extensive research of Dr. Stanton. It is a natural and healthier protocol in which client safety and quality of life are our primary concerns.
Migraine brains are different—more active. We explore that fully in our discussion of electrolyte homeostasis. Dr. Stanton’s research focuses on the heightened use of electrolytes in the brains of migraineurs, which means that many are deficient in key minerals. This mineral/electrolyte deficiency facilitates migraines, which is why we make our supplements: to help migraineurs lessen the severity and frequency of migraines via electrolyte supplementation.