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Introduction by Esther Lardreau-Cotelle
|Translation by Karine DEBBASCH|
Migraine, hemicrania, cephalea, cephalalgia, head pain, head illness, etc.: a large number of terms, whose different meanings are not self-evident, refer to what is commonly called "headache".Etymology, in this particular case, is of little help.
Migraine and hemicrania are alterations from the Medieval Latin: via the Late Latin word hemicrania, or hemicranium, which apparently was more frequently used, hemigranea, hemigrania, migranea and migrana were borrowed from the Greek hemicranion and hemicrania, themselves composed of hemisus (half) and cranion (cranium). These terms refer to half the head as the locus of the migraine (hemicrania) and also to the pain felt in this half of the head: the illness coincides with its anatomical localization. In Greek or Latin Antiquity, it was indeed quite frequent to name a disease after the affected locus, so that analyzing the names of the diseases often amounts to defining them.Although migraine and hemicrania are, from an etymological point of view, perfect synonyms, the two words are not used with the same meaning. As for any doublet, or any pair of words issued from the same etymon, each word acquired one particular meaning. The common word ‘migraine’ appeared in the 12th century with the non-medical acception of "despite, boredom" (this meaning survived until the late 19th century, for instance through the verb "migrainer" ("to migraine") : "to cause a migraine, aggravate considerably, bore", which one can notably find in the Goncourt brothers’ writings); it had a normal phonetic evolution and underwent quite important modifications of its meaning in the course of two centuries. The more learned "hemicrania", on the contrary, seems to have appeared in the 16th century (Ambroise Paré used the word), at the time of the re-Latinization of the French language; directly borrowed from the Latin and the Greek, it only underwent minor transformations. Due to this phonetic evolution, migraine is, in its form, further away from the etymon, and it also presents a looser connection between signifier and signified than the word hemicrania does.
These two terms should therefore not be considered as exact synonyms. Between the 16th and the 20th centuries, ‘hemicrania’ was used to refer to unilateral headache, whereas the word ‘migraine’, its etymology forgotten, was used – as early as the end of the 18th century (by Tissot, for example), but mostly during the 19th century – to refer to extremely varied forms, from forms accompanied by bilateral pain to painless ones.Until a date that can be situated between 1829 (Prosper Martin) and 1831 (Pierre-Adolphe Piorry), the term ‘hemicrania’ was systematically chosen over ‘migraine’ . But afterwards, ‘migraine’ prevailed, and hemicrania became used only to refer to a symptom. Migraine was no longer a mere anatomic definition, and the tendency was, on the contrary, to emphasize a series of symptoms and prodromes that so far had not been neglected altogether, but considered as very secondary when compared to the defining sensation of pain.
Honoré Daumier. Le mal de tête (The Headache)
Vapors. - Album comique de pathologie pittoresque,
The decision to digitize documents was not accidental. Some texts, either because the Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire de Médecine does not possess them or because there are beneficiaries, could not be digitized – which is why some important references in the history of migraine are not available for on-line consultation, although they are featured in the bibliography.But the corpus has also been deliberately restricted, at least in part, to the late 18th and the 19th centuries, insofar as the concept of migraine fully developed during that particular period of time. It would be wrong and anachronistic to believe that "migraine has always existed." A given medical problem appears at a given time, in a given place, according to a particular state of medicine and physiology or pharmacology. Nevertheless, the sensations of migraine and the facts of the disease probably are perennial.
Diseases are to be viewed in their cultural environments. Particular time periods or regions tend to elect one disease as representative of their history. Each period, each country, has its "own" diseases. In the 18th century, the French often referred to the pox as "the Neapolitan disease", which the English called "the French sickness". England suffered from the spleen. Nineteenth-century France had "migraine": "one may say that France is the homeland of migraine" . For nineteenth-century France, after the Revolution and the Terror, migraine was a real problem, and was a grimacing image of the various fractures in the country, be they social or sexual. It was the disease of intellectuals, the disease of ill-married women, the disease of the bourgeoisie.It would nevertheless be wrong to believe that in ancient times "head pain" was an unknown disease. It would also be wrong to think that people in the 19th century refused to look back on previous centuries.
On the contrary, 19th-century medical dissertations were all supposed to feature a summary of the knowledge acquired in the course of Antiquity. The writings of Galen , Pseudo-Galen , Aretaeus , Caelius Aurelianus or Alexander of Tralles were seldom read (the references often were second hand), but they kept being repeated. As for the Hippocratic corpus, it was only mentioned to provide authority; indeed, although it does contain words such as "cephalalgia", "head pains", "pains around the head", "heaviness in the temples", "heaviness in the head", there is nothing in it that portrays the migrainous disease – apart from a passage from Epidemics , which seems to describe ophthalmic migraine, without attributing it explicitly to migraine.Independently of this academic tradition, and independently of the translation choices that Littré and Daremberg made in their attempts to make the ancient writers accessible, it is not obvious that the condition described in Antiquity by the Greek terms hemicrania, heterocrania (Aretaeus), or under the Latin terms hemicrania, hemicranium, corresponds to what the 19th century called "migraine". The Encyclopédie and the first 19th-century encyclopedias still presented definitions in which the concept of pain was central, but the perspective radically changed after the first 25 years of the 19th century.
For quite a few years, parallel traditions, namely veterinary medicine and astronomy, had actually been shedding light on "strange" ocular phenomena – hemiopsy , phosphenes , etc. – followed by cephalalgia; the medical tradition, starting with Hippocrates, had considered these as part of a specific disease, scotodynia . Medicine therefore considered it impossible to separate these phenomena from migraine.
Representation of a migrainous aura with ophthalmic symptoms (hemianopsy or loss of part of the visual field; positive scotoma with perception of a dark spot – bottom right; amblyopia or dimness of vision), and osmophobia (hypersensitivity, intolerance to odors). No pain.
Jean-Jacques Grandville, Sans titre (No title),
But the founding dissertation, thanks at once to its impact and to its decisiveness, is that of Piorry, who invented the concept of ophthalmic migraine  (see also Jules Pelletan de Kinkelin ): among the various sensations a patient is likely to experience, ophthalmic symptoms (in particular scintillating scotoma ), close to vertigo (Mémoire sur le vertige ; see also Ménière’s article ), or speech deficiencies, are no less decisive than the pain itself. Piorry’s work was furthered by Liveing’s book and Hubert Airy’s article, previously mentioned, and also by three important medical dissertations: that of Dianoux , who presented what physicians knew about the condition in 1875; that of Robiolis who, in 1884, investigated the hypothesis of the ophthalmologist Nicati (who had envisaged "migraines" for each special sense organ (i.e. ophthalmic, auditory, olfactory and gustative migraines); and that of Fink , in 1891, who presented what was known at the time on hysterical migraine. The three decisive articles by Galezowski , Féré and Babinski were also a continuation of Piorry’s work.
The point nevertheless was not to replace the old definition with another one, equally nominal, but to substitute clinical descriptions for that definition.For physicians as different from one another as Trousseau and Liveing, the starting point was no longer in a theoretical definition, but in what could be observed, be it a) at the hospital or b) in the laboratory (experimentation).
a) One cannot but notice that a number of cases reported in the medical literature come from hospital or asylum populations . Connections can therefore be made between patients who do not belong to the same nosographic groups . The family history of the patient (his or her heredity), his or her personal history, and the efficacy of a given antimigrainous treatment are essential for the diagnosis: phenomena different from those that migraine usually features are not a priori excluded, provided they belong to a migrainous history, and can be treated with antimigrainous drugs. Links might therefore be made between diseases as seemingly different from one another as gout and migraine (Trousseau, Chaumier , Soula ), epilepsy and migraine (Liveing, all the texts by Féré presented here, Gowers), or hysteria and migraine (Babinski, Fink) – transformations, or similitudes. Room is made for marginal, irregular forms, as well as for minimal and attenuated forms of the disease which, were it not for the history of the patient and the history of his/her family, would fail to be recognizable: yawning, episodes of muteness, itching, congestion of the face, vertigo, formation of bright images on the retina, can all fall under a migraine diagnosis.b) Another evolution of paramount importance when compared to the previous centuries is the resort to laboratory experimentation. Auzias-Turenne introduced in 1846  and used again in 1849 a mechanistic vascular model, rejecting both the doctrine of sympathy  and the finalistic conception of causality on which it was based. From the second half of the 19th century, the truly "vasomotor" theories (Du Bois-Reymond , Möllendorff , Eulenburg , Jaccoud , Latham ) were based on the recent development of physiology, as well as on a major experimental discovery, attributed to both Claude Bernard and Brown-Séquard: vasomotor nerves regulate the arterial blood flow. The sympathetic nerve could be cut, or on the contrary stimulated, in animals in the laboratory. Due to an excitation of the sympathetic nerve, vasoconstriction (the diminution in the caliber of vessels caused by the contraction of its muscles) produces local anemia (paleness, decrease in body temperature, etc.). Due to a paralysis of the sympathetic nerve, vasodilation (augmentation in the caliber of vessels caused by relaxation of its muscles) produces hyperemia (flush, local increase in temperature, etc.). There could therefore be:
This change in perspectives did not deter researchers from working on forms of migraine in which pain was prevalent. An extremely rare form was thus isolated: ophthalmoplegic migraine  (also referred to as "Möbius’ disease ", or as "Charcot-Möbius’ syndrome"), a migraine accompanied by paralysis of some eye muscles (from the Greek ophtalmos: eye, and plege: blow). Charcot may not have been the first to describe it (in 1860, Gubler described a paralysis of the stem of the oculomotor nerve, preceded by migraines, although it is not entirely clear that one can consider it as a real "ophthalmoplegic migraine". Nevertheless, in 1890 Charcot gave it the name under which it has been known ever since.At the end of the 19th century, speaking of "migraine" as if it represented a nosological unit did not make sense any longer. Migraine was not seen as a mere disease anymore, but as a multiple entity that could be divided into various syndromes: ordinary migraine, ophthalmic migraine, ophthalmoplegic migraine. In many respects, this classification is what made today’s conception of migraine possible.
Other texts, some of them published in the first half of the 20th century, are just as important as the ones mentioned above. Wolff and his colleagues rekindled work on the vascular hypothesis . As for the neurological hypothesis , it was considerably enriched by a series of articles by Lashley , Leão , and Milner .
But this opinion cannot be maintained in view of the documents we have. The medications proposed during a given period were indeed consistent with the theories of that period, even though one may occasionally notice some discrepancies.It is impossible to summarize in just a few lines the whole range of pre-19th-century therapies, as they varied both according to the schools and according to the type of head pain one wished to treat. The treatments usually promoted, as a general prevention,  both a dieting and a healthy lifestyle: practicing gymnastics, bathing, walking, traveling, playing games for the spirit and/or for the body  were recommended to avoid feeling unhappy, bored, angry or worried, but also to avoid an excess of feelings. The purpose of the diet was to facilitate digestion and to avoid plethora, one of the major causes of hemicrania.
A few categories of medications based on different principles can nevertheless be listed.
In the 19th century, the specifics (cephalic and anodyne remedies) disappeared. The violent criticism of polypharmacy (pharmacy based on the massive and multiple prescriptions of medicinal substances) was approximately contemporary with the criticism of the concepts of "head disease" and "head pain". The therapies varied along with the theoretical models of migraine.
The faradaic current, an alternative current obtained by induction with a variable magnetic field (Ruhmkorff or Clarke coils), produced discontinuous rhythmic muscular contractions (a significant interval separated the end of one wave from the beginning of the next one) that were used to increase blood flow and diminish muscle inflammation.Prior to 1870, small portable devices were manufactured, allowing doctors to take to their patients’ homes a cell that was powerful enough to treat their crises.
Faradization Galvanization Mixed
Made by Ch. Chardin in Paris, ca.1875.
© Private collection, ASPAD
Mixed electromagnetic apparatus
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|1||The substantive form of this verb only occasionally has this meaning : "Tous sont des migrainés, comme ils disent, de profession" ("They are all professional migraine sufferers") (See G. Sée, Du traitement des maux de tête (céphalées, migraines, névralgies faciales) par l’antipyrine (On the treatment of head pains – headaches, migraines, facial neuralgias – by antipyrin, Bulletin de l’Académie de Médecine, 1887, second series, t. XVIII, p. 267 ). The same can be said of the adjective "migraineux", which Soudry used in 1864 (A. Soudry, Quelques remarques sur la migraine (A Few Remarks on Migraine), medical dissertation n° 26, Paris, printed by A. Parent, 1864, p. 15 ), or of the substantive "migraineux", used in 1866 by Michellet (J. Michellet, Considérations pathologiques sur la migraine (Pathological Considerations on Migraine), medical dissertation, Paris, printed by A. Parent, 1866, p. 20 ). But the adjectives "migrainé" and "migrainant", frequently used at the end of the 19th century, can still be found in the literature with the meaning of "boredom" ("migrainé": E. Garrett Anderson, Sur la migraine [On Migraine], Paris medical dissertation n° 138, 1870, p. 4 ; A. Thomas, Contribution à l'étude de la migraine [Contribution to the study of Migraine], Montpellier medical dissertation n° 63, 1889, p. 50 ). ; "migrainant": E. Garrett Anderson, 1870, p. 18.|
|2||The previously mentioned article on "hemicrania", featured in the 1833 Dictionnaire de médecine et de chirurgie pratiques (Dictionary of Practical Medicine and Surgery), is probably one of the last academic occurrences of the term.|
|3||K. Von Linné, Genera morborum, in auditorum usum, Leiden, Upsaliie, C. E. Steinert, 1763, p. 40.|
|4||For example: H. de Balzac, L’œuvre de Balzac, Physiologie du mariage, Paris, Le Club français du livre, 1966, t. 12, p. 1226 (méditation XXVI, § 1); E. Zola, Œuvres complètes, Pot-Bouille, Paris, Fasquelle, 1967, t. 4.|
|5||A. Joltrois, É. Abraham, Madame a sa migraine (Madam has a migraine again), one-act comedy-vaudeville, played in Paris at the Folies-dramatiques on December 7, 1858, Paris, Librairie théâtrale, 1858.|
|6||E. Audran, La mascotte (The Mascot) (1880), comic opera, libretto by Alfred Duru and Henri Chivot, Paris, Montgredien et Cie, [s.d.], acte III, air n° 20, p. 275 à 302.|
|7||For example: H. Daumier, Le mal de tête (The Headache), from the "Imagination" series n° 9, published in the Charivari issued on April 23, 1833.|
|8||A. Haig, Influence of salicylic acid and its salts on the excretion of uric acid, Proceedings Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London, New Series, January-March 1888, n°8, 18, II, p. 326. Acknowledgements to Gill Jackson and the Royal Society of London.|
|9||Hemiopsy: from the Greek hemi (half), and ops (eyesight): loss of half of the visual field. The French term used today is "hémiopie".|
|10||Phosphenes: from the Greek phos (light), and phainein (appear): sensation of light caused by something other than light.|
|11||Scotodynia: from the Greek skotos (darkness), and dinos (vertigo): vertigo accompanied with darkening of vision, illusion of objects spinning, heart palpitations, buzzing in both ears. Synonym of "scotomia" and "dark vertigo".|
|12||This particular form of migraine has been given several different names: "iris migraine" (Piorry), "ophthalmic migraine (Pelletan); "eye migraine" (Allory, Tamin, Galezowski); "classic migraine", as opposed to "common migraine". Today, according to the International Headache Society (The International Classification of Headache Disorders, second edition, Cephalalgia, 2004, vol. 24, Suppl. 1, p. 25), the expression "migraine with aura", as opposed to "migraine without aura," is to be preferred to the too restrictive expression "ophthalmic migraine".|
|13||Scotoma: from the Greek skotos (obscurity, dark, shade): an area of diminished vision within the visual field, situated either in the centre or in the periphery. The patient may be aware of a dark spot (positive scotoma); or he/she may not be aware of the blank spot, bump into objects, or have the impression that objects disappear (negative scotoma). Scintillation: mobile bright spot, generally in zigzags, that can accompany scotoma.|
|14||Only few migraine sufferers were hospitalized at the beginning of the century – although there were patients in the services of Chomel, at the Charité hospital in 1822, and at the Hôtel-Dieu in 1838. But, during the second half of the century, hospitalizations were far more numerous, especially for ophthalmic migraine, and a fortiori for ophthalmoplegic migraine (see below).|
|15||In 1870, in the Salpêtrière Hospital, the Sainte-Laure building, which so far harbored Delasiauve’s service, was so dilapidated that the administration had it evacuated. Patients diagnosed with insanity, epilepsy and hysteria had been indiscriminately hospitalized there. The evacuation was taken as an opportunity to separate the insane from the epileptic; and the hysterical patients, who also suffered from seizures, were housed together in a specialized ward, the "ward of simple epilepsy", placed under the supervision of Charcot. In 1879, there were at the Salpêtrière 137 simple epileptic patients, including hysterical patients (see Ludger Jules Joseph Lunier, Etablissements d’aliénés. Des épileptiques : des moyens de traitement et d’assistance qui leur sont applicables, Annales médico-psychologiques (Lunatic Asylums. Of Epileptic Patients: How to Treat and Assist Them), 1881, n° 5, p. 231, tableau II ). This allowed Charcot to shed light on the resemblances and differences between the two neuroses, and to isolate hysteria; and also to reason, as Liveing had done, in terms of neurotic equivalents, so that modes of thinking and therapeutics might be imported from one disease to another. There was no ward specific to migraine sufferers, but it was known that they had to be treated as epileptic patients, with potassium bromide.|
|16||J.A. Auzias-Turenne, Théorie ou mécanisme de la migraine (Theory or Mechanism of Migraine), Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des Sciences / Institut de France, Paris, Gauthier-Villars, juillet-décembre 1846, t. XXIII.|
|17||Sympathy: from the Greek sun (with), and pathos (affection). There are two different medical meanings; 1°) physiologically, sympathy is a non mechanical interrelationship, a harmony between different organs of a body, such that one organ participates in what happens to the other (the phrase "sympathetic nerve" is derived from that first meaning); 2°) pathologically, it refers to a relationship between different organs such that a disease produces observable effects, not in the initially affected locus (seat of the disease), but in another locus that has no mechanical relationship with the first one.|
|18||S. F. Jaccoud, Traité de pathologie interne, Paris, A. Delahaye, 1870, t. 1, II, livre III, chap. 1, « migraine – hémicrânie », p. 452-456.|
|19||The definition of ophthalmoplegic migraine has not evolved much, but its classification as a form of migraine has been abandoned: it is now considered as a kind of neuralgia. The International Headache Society (The International Classification of Headache Disorders, second edition (ICHD-II), Cephalalgia, 2004, vol. 24, Suppl. 1, § 13.17 "Ophthalmoplegic "migraine"", p. 131-132.) defines it as a series of recurrent attacks of migrainous headache, associated with paresis of one or several ocular cranial nerves, in the absence of discernible intra-cranial lesion.|
|20||H. G. Wolff, Personality features and reactions of subjects with migraine, Archives of neurology and psychiatry, 1937, vol. 37, p. 895-921; H. G. Wolff, J. R. Graham, Mechanism of migraine headache and action of ergotamine tartrate, Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, Chicago, 1938, n° 39, p. 737-763; Wolff’s headache and other head pain, (1948), edited by Donald J. Dalessio, New York, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1980 (fourth edition).|
|21||It may be summarized (and simplified) in the following manner: the various neurological phenomena that precede cephalalgia would depend on the outbreak of a cortical wave called cortical spreading depression (CSD), corresponding to cerebral excitation followed by a depression of the membranous potential, gradually spreading at a speed of 3 mm/minute, via the neurons, without respecting vascular territories.|
|22||K. S. Lashley, Patterns of cerebral integration indicated by scotomas of migraine, Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 1941, vol. 46, p. 331-339.|
|23||A. de A. P. Leão, Spreading depression of activity in the cerebral cortex, Journal of Neurophysiology, 1944, vol. 7, p. 359-390.|
|24||P. M. Milner, Note on a possible correspondence between the scotomas of migraine and spreading depression of Leão, Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology Supplement, 1958, vol. 10, n° 4, p 705.|
|25||The opposition between treatment of a crisis and general treatment of migraine is absolutely not contemporary. It was already made in Antiquity. In the 19th century it gave rise to systematic consideration.|
|26||See for instance Caelius Aurelianus’s concept of laxatio animi, spiritual counterpart to physical therapy through relaxation.|
|27||R. Rey, Histoire de la douleur (A History of Pain), Paris, Editions La Découverte et Syros, 2000, p. 153.|
|28||L. Fuchs, Du traitement de la migraine par le bromure de potassium (On the Treatment of Migraine with Potassium Bromide), Paris, G. Steinheil, 1896.|
|29||M. Barudel, De l’hémicrânie causée par l’anémie ; de son traitement par le bromure de potassium, Recueil de mémoires de médecine, de chirurgie et de pharmacie militaires (Of Hemicrania caused by Anemia; of its Treatment with Potassium Bromide, Collection of Military Medicine, Surgery and Pharmacy Dissertations), 1867, 35, XVIII, p. 371-390.|
|30||J.M.A. Beni-Barde, Manuel médical d'hydrothérapie (Medical Manual of Hydrotherapy), Paris, Masson, 1883, p. 352-355.|
|31||L.-J.-D. Fleury, Traité thérapeutique et clinique d’hydrothérapie : de l’application de l’hydrothérapie au traitement des maladies chroniques dans les établissements publics et au domicile des malades ; études de philosophie médicale et de pathologie générale (Therapeutic and Clinical Treatise of Hydrotherapy: on the Use of Hydrotherapy in the Treatment of Chronic Diseases, both in Public Establishments and in the Patients’ Homes), Paris, P. Asselin, 1866.|