Various forms of the term “migraine” have been around since the 2nd century. We know that figures like Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi experienced migraines and it is generally agreed that Hildegard von Bingen did as well.* Some argue that Julius Caesar did as well, though that is less certain. At times the term has had broader meaning, covering a variety of conditions, and at other times, a more limited one, narrowing definitively to what we now call migraine in the 18th century. Even so, it is possible to trace people’s writing on what we now call migraine through several points in human history.
["Hildegard von Bingen dictating to her secretary," Rupertsberg Codex,
20th century facimile of 12th century original (now lost), source: Wikimedia Commons]
[Abu al-Qasim Al-Zahrawi, 20th century drawing formerly (possibly currently) used in Iranian textbooks, source: Wikimedia Commons]
*For arguments regarding Hildegard von Bingen and migraines see this post. These arguments are made more complicated by the fact that though she wrote about migraines herself, the theory that she experienced them herself is entirely a modern one.
**Some claim skulls from 7000 BCE that show trepanation (holes drilled into the skull) as even earlier evidence of migraine, especially as this was a remedy also recommended in the 17th century. While it is entirely possible that this was the case, the link is tenuous at best.
Borsook, David, Arne May, Peter J. Goadsby, and Richard Hargreaves, eds. The Migraine Brain: Imaging Structure and Function. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Magner, Lois N. A History of Medicine. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., 1992.
Sacks, Oliver. Migraine: Understanding a Common Disorder. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.
Medicine in Ancient Egypt - Indiana University
Arateus the Cappodacian on Headaches (and part 2) - Digital Hippocrates
A Headache History - Oxford Journals
A Brief History of Migraine - A Train
Migraine (Simple English)
Aretaeus of Cappadocia
Galen of Pergamon
Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi (Latinized form: Rhazes)
Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (Latinized form: Albucasis)
Ibn Sina (Latinized form: Avicenna)
Hildegard von Bingen