HEADACHE

2010

Taking a drink made from the infused flowers of HONEYSUCKLE seems a pleasant way of getting rid of a headache, as is ROSEMARY tea, in a simple infusion of the leaves and flowers, or you could just rub the forehead with a handful of the herb, and one can do the same with PEPPERMINT leaves, or drink the tea. BISTORT tea is used in Cumbria. Probably the best of all the headache remedies is LIME-BLOSSOM tea. It is used a lot in France, where “tilleul” is taken, a slightly sedative drink. It is a very pleasant drink, and is taken a lot for insomnia, too. MARIGOLD water was for a long time a favourite for a headache. PEACH leaves bound round the head will bring relief. A freshly cut slice of raw POTATO held to the temples is a headache cure, just as a HORSERADISH leaf, bruised and wetted, could be tied to the head. That is the American way, but the cure is simpler in Britain. All you need do is smell it, which is the Norfolk claim, or in Sussex, just holding the scrapings tight would do the trick. Country people in Essex used to rub the forehead with a handful of SEA WORMWOOD to cure a headache. Its near relative, SAGEBRUSH, need only to be smelt to cure a headache, at least according to the Navajo. Using CONKERS, powdered, as a snuff was a way of curing catarrh or headache. The Pennsylvania Germans used it that way, but this was quite an early habit. The idea was to make one sneeze. Apparently it was also recommended as an infusion or decoction to take up the nostrils.

FEVERFEW is an effective headache remedy. A cold infusion of the flowers will do the trick, possibly because it is a painkiller, and also because it is mildly sedative. Even migraine will succumb, so it is claimed. RED CLOVER, being mildly sedative, has been traditionally used for curing a headache, and RED POPPY too, being sedative, is also a headache and migraine remedy. It is actually called Headache, and the belief was that picking it could cause the headache, so it is interesting to find that the cause can also be the cure. The leaves of the CASTOR OIL PLANT have been used for headaches. African peoples like the Mano of Liberia rub the leaves in water, and bathe the head with the result, while in the southern states of America, a similar practice merely involves wrapping the forehead in the leaves, which will treat a fever as well. A RHUBARB leaf held to the forehead will relieve the headache, though any large leaf will probably do as well. A prescription from the Physicians of Myddfai is more of a charm than a genuine remedy. We are told that we should take an apronful of sheep’s sorrel, and boil it in the milk of a one-coloured cow till it is nearly dry, and apply it as a plaster to the head, “the patient keeping his bed, being covered with clothes, so as to cause him to perspire”. The Anglo-Saxon Apuleius prescribed RUE for many ills, including simple headache, which is to be cured by drinking it in wine, or dabbing the head with rue and vinegar. Modern folk medicine still recognises chewing a leaf of rue as being a cure for nervous headaches, and in the Middle Ages we find that a plaster of rue with ground ivy and laurel was prescribed for headache, especially for “an ache that endureth long”. Even HEMLOCK has been used. See Wesley: for “a chronical Head-ache… wear tender Hemlock-leaves, under the feet, changing them daily”! Another from the Lacnunga has a prescription involving BEETROOT. Roots of beet, pound with honey, wring out, apply the juice over the nose. Let him (the patient) be face upward toward the hot sun and lay the head downward until the brain be reached. Before that, he should have butter or oil in the mouth, the mucus to run from the nose. Let him do that often until it be clean. BASIL has been used for centuries to counter headaches and colds, either by an infusion, taken hot at night, or by taking it as snuff. Dried basil leaves have been used in this form for a very long time.

African cures for a headache included the use of leaves of NEVER-DIE (Kalanchoe crenata) in the Yoruba Ewe ritual, just as in Mexico the leaf of another species, CURTAIN PLANT (Kalanchoe pinnata), known as hoja fresca there, would be put over each temple.