Migraine in the Medieval Times

History of Migraine

Migraine may be compared to the feeling of a mighty hammer pounding down on upon your head. Sound in excess and light in the form of glare may become unbearable while suffering from an episode of migraine. A piercing, inflammatory, ringing feeling is experienced by the one suffering from the condition. Read on in this publication about the brief history of Migraine or the prevalence of migraine in the medieval times.

This description of migraine was surely not written yesterday. In fact migraine was first defined in an encyclopedia that was compiled by Franciscan monk Bartholomaeus Anglicus also known as Bartholomew the Englishman, as long back as the 13th century.

Fewer maladies could be said to have persisted, through the course of history for as long, as migraine has. Looking at the history of the disease tells us that people of by gone years, took the disease more seriously than the folks of today. Many lessons are there to be learnt from the past, for those suffering from the condition in the present age.

The History of Migraine

1The First Cases of Hemicrania in History

Migraine History

We can narrow down upon the starting point of the history of migraine to a named disorder that mentioned by Galen, the most prominent philosopher and physician of the Roman empire, who is said to have lived in between the years 129 and 216 CE.

Galen described migraine, or hemicrania as the man had named it, differently from other types of aches that occurred to the head. The particular disease was described as a painful ailment affecting half the head, and caused by the ascent of gases from the intestines that were excessive for the system, and as well too hot, or too cold.

The 12th-century text of Causae et Curae, which are generally accepted among scholarly circles to be authored by the celebrated German saint, Hildegard of Bingen, who is said to have lived in between the years 1098 to 1179. The documents provide a compelling explanation as to why migraine affects only half the brain at a particular instant. It has in fact been described as a condition so terrible that if it seizes the whole head, then the pain would reach unbearable proportions. The writings of Galen were lost with the downfall of the Roman empire, yet the use of the term hermicrania continued among the concerned circles, and was subsequently adapted into and adopted by cultures and societies over the passage of time. For instance, in Middle English medical history, we find the mention of the term emigranea, whereas in medieval Wales the term migran was used. William Dunbar, who was a writer from Middle Scotland, who used the term magryme, while describing the pain experienced during an episode of migraine in a poetic rendition. The specific description been in the lines an arrow piercing the brow. A pain so terrible that the poet could not bare to look at the light.

Dunbar also expressed the aftermath of a migraine, what was called the, ‘postdrome’, that the new morning brought along, as the writer sat down to his trade, and the words eluded him because of the pain. The feeling specifically described as, ‘dulled as dullness’, which left the body in a weary state and the spirit asleep. All through the 16th as well as the 17th centuries, a host of natural remedies has been documented in manuscripts and other printed media collections, thus suggesting a sophisticated sense of general awareness of the disease, among the population.

The recipe book of Jane Jackson, which dates back to the year 1642, may be considered as an example. The texts provide six separate recipes for what the author refers to the disease as “Migrim in the Head”.

Also Read: Essential Oils to Cure Headaches

2Losing Importance of The Disease

Losing Importance of The Disease

These descriptions of the disease that we acquire from history brings us to the conclusion that our ancestors by all means dealt with migraine with the utmost of seriousness. Our generation considers migraine as a palpable and severe disorder. Not without reasons, as one in every 7 on the planet is affected by migraine.

Nonetheless, we often tend to categorize the disease as a common headache, underestimating it, rather than overlooking it all together. Patients may often ignore the recurring conditions, and eventually the episode may go untreated, and develop into a more critical nervous disorder.

Also Read: Strange ways to Cure a Headache

Historical texts and media also suggest to us that the questions the needed be asked of us, is not how we could treat migraine with the medical legitimacy that it deserves, but rather the whens and the whys, as to why mankind all of a sudden stopping taking the disease seriously, like they did in the years of tore.

Somewhere around the 18th century, migraine as a topic started becoming stuff of ridicule. May 1782, for instance, a flamboyant personality was present at the King’s Theatre Masquerade in London. The person and introduced himself to the audience present as, ‘Le Sieur Francois de Migraine, Docteur en Medicine’. Salt humour if you may call it to be. While the summers raged during the month of August of 1787, the General Evening Post in Prais, spoke of migraine as if it was alcoholism. Migraine during the period was fast becoming a topic of the joke. It was often mentioned as a condition, which affected only certain types of women.

By the turn of the 19th century migraine was conveniently categorized as a disease which was contracted by women coming from the lower, and lower middle strata of society. A condition of the mind, which was brought about by excessive toil and the subsequent fatigue. A condition, moreover which was brought about by insufficient nourishments, constant lactation, and other such causes that you would associate with a woman of the mentioned class of society.

It was only during the 1980’s that many victims, if you may call them to be, of the disease, we call migraine, participated in the sharing of their experiences. Art was their media. What ensued were close to 500 pieces of art which depicted the condition of those suffering from the disease.

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By Abhro