Traditional Treatments for Headache

  • Redda Tekle Haimanot
  • Sheng–Yuan Yu
  • K. Ravishankar
  • Mario Fernando Prieto Peres
  • Luiz Paulo Queiroz
Reference work entry


Traditional remedies for headache are widely practiced throughout the world. They appear to be more popular in Africa, Asia, and South America. In this chapter, the different methods used traditionally to manage headache in these parts of the world are described by experienced experts in the field. In China, acupuncture and herbs constitute the main approaches while in India Ayurveda, homeopathy, yoga, head massage, herbs, and dietary remedies are commonly used. In Africa and Ethiopia in particular, herbal medication, cauterization, and cupping with or without bloodletting are often employed to traditionally treat different type of headaches. In South America, medicinal plants appear to dominate although spiritual therapy is also getting more and more popular. The increasing use of secretion from frog has also been reported in Brazil. The chapter has also interesting descriptions of the traditional beliefs and hypotheses on the causation of headache as perceived by various cultures in different countries.

What comes out of the various experiences is the wide use of traditional remedies in headache treatment worldwide. In terms of herbal medication, it is evident that different ingredients and dosage are prescribed to different patients. Dosages are often not standardized and therefore have the potential risks of harmful side effects. In addition, the use of traditional methods to treat any symptom of headache could delay the diagnosis and management of serious conditions such as meningitis and other intracranial pathologies.

The popularity of traditional medicine is so significant that some countries particularly in Africa are working toward integrating effective and safe traditional remedies into their national health-care systems. The World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating such efforts so that safety is not compromised when traditional remedies are popularized.


Traditional Treatment Sham Acupuncture Ayurvedic Medicine Traditional Remedy Traditional Chinese Herb 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Lifting The Burden 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Redda Tekle Haimanot
    • 1
  • Sheng–Yuan Yu
    • 2
  • K. Ravishankar
    • 3
  • Mario Fernando Prieto Peres
    • 4
  • Luiz Paulo Queiroz
    • 5
  1. 1.Addis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyChinese PLA General HospitalBeijingPeople's Republic of China
  3. 3.The Headache and Migraine Clinic, Joslok Hospital and Research Center, Lilavati Hospital and Research CenterMumbaiIndia
  4. 4.Universidade Federal de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  5. 5.Department of NeurologyUniversidade Federal de Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil

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