If you’ve ever fantasized about drilling a hole in your head to get rid of migraine symptoms, know that you are not alone, and that you are not the first. Since prehistoric times, migraine attacks have caused immense agony, driving sufferers to try shocking, and often dangerous, experiments to end the constant nausea, vomiting, and excruciating migraine headaches.
Don’t try this at home
Archeologists believe that the first migraine treatment might have been trepanation, the drilling of holes into the skull to find relief from migraines (and sometimes life itself). Cave paintings and skull remains from 9,000 years ago suggest that early man believed that boring a hole into your head would cure migraine headaches, in addition to epileptic seizures, and mental disorders. So convinced (and desperate) were migraine sufferers to find relief from debilitating headaches and nausea, that trepanation continued to be the migraine treatment of choice until as recently as 17th century Europe.
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Other bizarre (and horrifying) treatments for migraines have included brandishing hot irons to the head, bloodletting, inserting of garlic into an incision made in the temple, and witchcraft.
Ancient Greeks were nauseated by migraines
Hippocrates must have suffered migraines with aura back in 400 BC. He vividly described typical migraine attacks, from the first symptoms of aura- strange hallucinations, nausea, and disorientation, to pulsating head pain, and then the relief from vomiting. Ancient Greek physician Galen of Pergamon coined the term “hemicrania” (half-head) to describe the crippling headaches, which was later translated as “migraine.” Like other contemporary philosophers, he deduced that migraine symptoms like vomiting, queasiness, stomach cramps, and lightheadedness confirmed a connection between the stomach and the brain in migraine illness.
Migraine triggers remain the same
In the Middle Ages, scientists and philosophers identified certain migraine triggers as being the source of migraine attacks. Early physicians recognized extreme light sensitivity, migraine food triggers, and hormonal changes that afflict women during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause as common migraine triggers. Today, scientists confirm over 100 migraine triggers, including food, hormones, weather, air pressure, and lifestyle habits.
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Migraine stigma today
Famous author and migraine sufferer Joan Didion got it right when she said, “That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack, an ambiguous blessing.”
Migraines strike millions of people today, and experts still disagree on exactly what causes migraines and how to treat them. The most widely held belief today is that migraines are neurological, that inflammatory chemicals in the brain interact with your nerves and blood vessels, triggering a migraine attack. But as any migraineur knows, the ramifications of migraine disorder extend beyond the mere physical pain symptoms. Migraine patients often suffer depression and anxiety, as family members, friends, and employers fail to recognize their symptoms as a disability, and continue to refer to their migraines as “another headache.”
Read more about migraine symptoms:
Migraine Headaches and Dizziness- Stop the Ride, I want to get off!
Why do Migraines cause Nausea and Vomiting?
Lights…Camera…Migraine! 10 Curious Facts about Light Sensitivity
Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide and Migraine: Implications for Therapy
Digging up Bones; the Excavation, Treatment and Study of Human Skeletal Remains
What is migraine? Controversy and stalemate in migraine pathophysiology- Pubmed, NCBI