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Author Topic: How did doctors treat severe headaches a century ago?  (Read 4460 times)

Offline logicat5

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Just a quick question regarding medical history for a book (fiction) that I am writing. For the sake of historical accuracy, what kind of treatment would doctor's have presecribed for severe headaches (brought on by brain tumour but this isn't found out) in 1897/1898? Just a prelim. really as books have a habit of developing of their own accord! It can be herbal treatment as well due to the nature of the text, but just wondering generally about medicine of the time. I know a fair amount, but I really want to dig around and get opinions. Thanks!
« Last Edit: 10/02/2009 12:24:58 by daveshorts »


 

Offline RD

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Re: How did doctors treat severe headaches a century ago?
« Reply #1 on: 04/02/2009 23:00:58 »
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Laudanum (pronounced /ˈlɔdnəm/, /ˈlɔːdənəm/), also known as opium tincture or tincture of opium, is an alcoholic herbal preparation of opium ... By the 19th century, laudanum was used in many patent medicines to "relieve pain...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laudanum
 

Offline RD

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Re: How did doctors treat severe headaches a century ago?
« Reply #2 on: 09/02/2009 21:53:02 »
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The New York Times
 July 24 1885


AN OVERDOSE OF LAUDANUM.

Page 7, 39 words

NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 23.--Miss Lillie McLaughlin, of South Union, Ky., a brilliant and beautiful girl of 18 years, who was visiting relatives here, took an overdose of laudanum for headache and died this morning.
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C0DEED91039E533A25757C2A9619C94649FD7CF
« Last Edit: 09/02/2009 21:55:30 by RD »
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: How did doctors treat severe headaches a century ago?
« Reply #3 on: 10/02/2009 08:37:26 »
Trepanning was commonly used surgery for severe headaches and other such problems.
http://library.thinkquest.org/J0111742/Trepanning.htm
Ah well, better than a whole in the head!
 

Offline RD

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Re: How did doctors treat severe headaches a century ago?
« Reply #4 on: 10/02/2009 12:18:28 »
Trepanation was being performed in the stone age ... http://query.nytimes.com

and by DIYers in the 1960s ...

Quote
Amanda Feilding also performed a self-trepanation with a drill, while her partner Joey Mellen filmed the operation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trepanation

[ Definitely a boring movie :) ]
 
« Last Edit: 10/02/2009 19:03:08 by RD »
 

Offline OldDragon

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How did doctors treat severe headaches a century ago?
« Reply #5 on: 10/02/2009 20:16:58 »
Possibly they would have prescribed white willow bark, which is an ancient remedy from where the common aspirin has been derived, but research had, I think, by then identified salycin as the active chemical in it, and that it is converted to salycilic acid once in the human system. This, besides being an analgesic, also boosts the immune system, is an antioxidant, and an anti-inflammatory.

Edited to add that salycin can also be found in other plants/herbs, although white willow seems to be the most commonly used one.
« Last Edit: 11/02/2009 21:26:39 by OldDragon »
 

Offline RD

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How did doctors treat severe headaches a century ago?
« Reply #6 on: 10/02/2009 20:52:43 »
According to this site the brand name "Aspirin" was not use until January 1899,
 if true this would make the word "Aspirin" an anachronism in Marzipan's novel set in 1897/98.
« Last Edit: 10/02/2009 20:58:02 by RD »
 

MDriver1981

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How did doctors treat severe headaches a century ago?
« Reply #7 on: 10/02/2009 23:49:16 »
Alcohol
 

Offline OldDragon

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How did doctors treat severe headaches a century ago?
« Reply #8 on: 11/02/2009 15:57:01 »
I didn't suggest the doctor prescribed 'Aspirin' but white willow bark, and probably to be drunk as a tea infusion to ease the pain. There is evidence of that being a common remedy within my family, or the chewing of the willow bark for toothache etc., at around that period of history. My grandfathers - being from farming stock - were both given this by their mothers/grandmothers, and I can recall my own maternal grandmother using it, and she was born in 1878. By 1899 she was working as a children's nurse for people whom she referred to as 'the gentry'. She knew of many old herbal remedies, and later married a horticulturalist, also well versed in propogation and uses of the medicinal herbs.

 

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How did doctors treat severe headaches a century ago?
« Reply #8 on: 11/02/2009 15:57:01 »

 

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