Having a headache for ten days that refused to respond to conventional medicine or alternative methods made me wonder, what did the ancients do to relieve their pain? I'm familiar with ideas from willowbark tea, the staple of any fantasy novel and something that is well versed in fact, to Zeus's last resort of having Hephaestus take an axe to his head, thus bringing forth the fully formed goddess Athena. Since neither of those two ideas seemed plausible for the moment, I decided to do some further research and stumbled upon this article from 2003, written after a German report showed that ancient Persian techniques are starting to prove effective in treating migraines. While some of the techniques used (ie the method of administration) may need to be altered to today's more...cultured audience, some of the plants mentioned can be found in your everyday pantry such as garlic. Others, such as rose oil, can be found in any health food store or wherever Indian groceries are sold. Not only did the Persians study plants and their effects, but they also took catalogued different types of headaches and which remedies were the most effective.
Read the full article written on ABC Science Online back in 2003 here.