It emerges from a study on plant remedies used in Italian folk medicine between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries conducted by researchers at the Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems in the Mediterranean in collaboration with the Institute of Neurological Sciences of the National Research Council (CNR). In this work, about 42% of the plant-based treatments utilized by Italian folk medicine to heal headache seems to represent the continuity of the medical tradition over about two thousand years. The results were published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology
According to the World Health Organization, headache is among most common disorder of nervous system, resulting in serious problems and disability. Researchers from the National Research Council - Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems in the Mediterranean (ISAFOM-CNR) and Institute of Neurological Sciences (ISN-CNR) were interested in the subject with a study on plant-based remedies used by Italian folk medicine between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The research was published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
"In the light of current pharmacological knowledge, about 79% of plants used in the past show, nowadays, secondary metabolites with anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive, and analgesic actions that could be useful to treat basic forms of headaches", explains Giuseppe Tagarelli of the Istitute for Agricultural and Forest Systems in the Mediterranean (ISAFoM-Cnr). "Active molecules such as flavonoids, terpenoids, phenylpropanoids have shown in vivo, in vitro or in human trials a large spectrum of anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive and analgesic activities. For example, diterpens extracted from sunflower, elderberry and wormwood act on mice like NSAIDs (non-steroids anti-inflammatory drugs) that people intake to treat headaches, as well as to reduce the inflammatory state in rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. In general, the secondary metabolites show inhibitory activity against the NF-?B, NO, COX-2, TNF-α pathways which play an important role in triggering different types of headaches”.
Moreover, Tagarelli says “in this work, 41.9% of the plant-based treatments utilized by Italian folk medicine between the late nineteenth and the early to mid-twentieth century to heal headache, were already in use in the period between the fifth century BC and II AD, as evidenced by Hippocrates, Pliny the Elder, Dioscorides, Galen and Sereno Sammonico. So they seem to represent the continuity of the medical tradition over about two thousand years”. “The award of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine to Prof. Youyou Tu for her discovery and development of artemisinin that is the most effective drug against malaria, he concludes, gives us a lesson: sometimes it is needed to look back, to look forward”.
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