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Italian folk plant-based remedies to heal headache (XIX-XX century)

, Elvira V. De Marco, Olivier Gallo,
Published: 1 January 2018

Abstract: Headache has been recognized since antiquity. From the late nineteenth to the early to mid-twentieth century, Italian folk remedies to treat headache were documented in a vast corpus of literature sources. The purpose of this paper is to bring to light the plant-based treatments utilized by Italian folk medicine to heal headache in an attempt to discuss these remedies from a modern pharmacological point of view. Moreover, we compare the medical applications described by Hippocrates, Pliny the Elder, Dioscorides, Galen and Serenus Sammonicus with those utilized by Italian folk medicine to check if they result from a sort of continuity of use by over two thousand years. A detailed search of the scientific data banks such as Medline and Scopus was undertaken to uncover recent results concerning the anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive and analgesic activities of the plants. Fifty-eight (78.4%) plant-based remedies have shown in vivo, in vitro or in human trials a large spectrum of anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive and analgesic activities. Moreover, thirty-one of remedies (41.9%) were already included in the pharmacopoeia between the 5th century BC and the 2nd century AD. Italian folk medicine could be a promising source of knowledge and could provide evidences for active principles that have not as of yet been fully used for their potential.
Keywords: Ethnomedicine / Folk medicine / Headache / Plant remedies / Plant-based drugs

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