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MEDICAL HISTORY
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 178-180

Gastric headache: Historical concept still widely prevalent


1 Department of Psychiatry, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya University, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, AJ Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Surgical Gastroenterology, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya University, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication13-Jul-2015

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Anil Kakunje
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya University, Mangalore - 575 018, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-9727.160710

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  Abstract 

Ethno-medicine refers to the study of traditional medical practice which is concerned with the cultural interpretation of health, diseases and illness and also addresses the healthcare-seeking process and healing practices. Headache is one of the common symptom for consultation with a doctor. Several patients visiting doctors and specialists with the complaint of headache, attribute the cause to gastritis, gas or to any similar terminology in their local language. Since, the cause connects between head and stomach the condition is known as "gastric headache". The knowledge of gastric headache and its description details were greatly contributed by the medical traditions of ancient Greece, Persia Egypt, India, and China. The possible causality of the gastrointestinal diseases in inducing headaches has been little investigated. We do see a significant proportion of patients visiting varied specialists attributing headache to gas/gastritis. We believe that attribution patterns, explanatory models and research is needed to study gastritis/gas as a cause for headache in different cultures. The difference in the understanding and beliefs of the illness between the clinician and patient can result in inappropriate assessment or dis-satisfaction.

Keywords: Culture, gas, gastric, headache


How to cite this article:
Kakunje A, Kumar K, Ramachandran V. Gastric headache: Historical concept still widely prevalent. Muller J Med Sci Res 2015;6:178-80

How to cite this URL:
Kakunje A, Kumar K, Ramachandran V. Gastric headache: Historical concept still widely prevalent. Muller J Med Sci Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Dec 6];6:178-80. Available from: http://www.mjmsr.net/text.asp?2015/6/2/178/160710


  Gastric Headache: Historical Concept Still Widely Prevalent Top


Ethnomedicine refers to the study of traditional medical practice which is concerned with the cultural interpretation of health, diseases and illness and also addresses the healthcare-seeking process and healing practices. The response of any society to challenges of sickness is based on its own beliefs and practices. This response in many cases in most developing countries is irrespective of one's educational background or standing in the society. [1] The healthcare problems of most developing countries are strongly associated with its cultural and social practices and beliefs and has tremendous impact on help seeking and delivery of health care. Cultural factors influence understanding, presentation, diagnosis, management, course and outcome of many diseases. [1] Headache is one of the common symptom for consultation with a doctor. The causes for headache is varied, and is given in detail in the International Classification of headache disorders. [2] On several occasions finding a cause for the headche is a headache for the clinician. However, there are several patients visiting doctors and specialists with the complaint of headache and attributing the cause to gastritis, gas or to any similar terminology in their local language. Since, the cause connects between head and stomach the condition is known as "gastric headache". Although the history of headache and migraine has been widely discussed in the literature, the condition known as "gastric headache" has received little attention. [3]

Every culture provides explanations and causal attributions for somatic symptoms. These explanations, in turn, set up expectations that influence the ways that individuals attend to their bodies and the sort of symptoms they recognize and report to others. The prevalence of explanatory models and prototypes may also influence the prevalence of specific clinical presentations of symptoms and syndromes. [4] The attribution for the problem may come from cultural influence/traditions of the societies. The knowledge of gastric headache and its description details were greatly contributed by the medical traditions of ancient Greece, Persia Egypt, India, and China.

In the medical texts of medieval Persia, the physicians clearly used the term "participatory headache". Avicenna stated that "…sometimes headaches are created by the participation of other organs which have more neural relations with the brain such as the stomach and etc… and the most participating organ with the brain is the stomach". In medieval Persian medicine, the gastric headache was diagnosed when gastrointestinal symptoms were present before and along with the onset of the headache. This type of the gastric headache is caused due to excess of warmth, coldness, dryness, or moisture in the stomach and factors weakening the gastric digestion. [3]

One type of headache in the Iranian traditional medicine is the participatory gastric headache. It is defined as the headache not originating from the disorders of head and neck; rather the pain in the head is caused by gastric dysfunction and its diseases. Textbooks of the Iranian traditional medicine such as the Qanon, Zakhireh-e Kharazmshahi, Al-Havi, Exir-e Azzam, Moalejat-e Aghili, and Sharh al-Asbab va al-Alamat has details of the headache originating from the gastric and Gastrointestinal disorders. Treatment of this type of headache is completely dependent on the treatment of the gastric disorder. [5]

Traditional Indian medicine believes migraine usually arose from stomach disturbance. Incidentally, there is a close correlation between the symptoms of migraine with those of Amla-pitta (state of acid-alkali imbalance in the body) causing symptoms such as shiroruja (headache). [6]

The medieval physicians of the Middle east listed various signs and symptoms, apparent causes, and hygienic and dietary rules for prevention of headaches. The medieval writings provided long lists of substances used in the treatment of headaches. Many of the approaches of physicians in medieval period could be of use to modern medicine. Both hunger and gluttony were recognised as causes of headache. Changes in weather, depression, lack of sleep, sustained exertion, gastrointestinal disorders, dehydration, exposure to sun or heat, and hyperthermia or hypothermia were also known to cause headache, as were disorders of the ears, eyes, and nose. Persian practitioners believed that "most illnesses arise solely from long continued errors of diet and regimen", they placed special emphasis on food and diet in their therapeutic management of headache. [7]

Interestingly, dietary headache or headache induced by food components and additives has been recently recognised. According to the modern medicine, the gastrointestinal disturbances are common in some types of headaches, particularly the migraine headaches. However, the possible causality of the gastrointestinal diseases in inducing headaches has been little investigated. [3]

One of the common causal attribution of persons coming with headcahe to medical attention is 'Gas' or similar terminologies like 'vayu' etc. People attribute varied symptoms and somatic complaints to 'Gas'. 'Gas' is reported to be the cause for the distress and the primary duty of the treating clinician is to relieve them of the gas. They consult doctors from all systems of medicine and specialists of all branches. Gas can really be a difficult symptom to handle and many reach psychiatrists. [8]

The majority of alternative medicine users appear to be doing so not so much as a result of being dissatisfied with conventional medicine but largely because they find these health care alternatives to be more congruent with their own values, beliefs, and philosophical orientations of health and life. [9]

We do see a significant proportion of patients visiting varied specialists attributing headache to gas/gastritis. We believe that attribution patterns, explanatory models and research is needed to study gastrits/gas as a cause for headache in different cultures. The difference in the understanding and beliefs of the illness between the clinician and patient can result in inappropriate assessment or dis-satisfaction. If the practioners do not understand a patient's traditional health beliefs they may not accept the treatment or become non-compliant with the treatment.

 
  References Top

1.
Chukuezi C, Chukuezi A. Myths and beliefs in aetiology and treatment of ear, nose and throat diseases amongst the Igbo of Nigeria. The Internet Journal of Otorhinolaryngology 2009;11:2.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
International Headache Society. International classification of headache disorders. Cephalalgia 2013;33:629-808.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Fazljou SM, Togha M, Ghabili K, Alizadeh M, Keshavarz M. In commemorating one thousandth anniversary of the Avicenna′s Canon of medicine: Gastric headache, a forgotten clinical entity from the medieval Persia. Acta Med Iran 2013;51:279-83.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Kirmayer LJ, Sartorius N. Cultural models and somatic syndromes. Psychosom Med 2007;69:832-40.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Joo SB, Keshavarz M, Togha M. Participatory gastric headache in the Iranian traditional medicine. J Islamic and Iranian Traditional Medicine 2011;1:383-90.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Vaidya PB, Vaidya BS, Vaidya SK. Response to ayurvedic therapy in the treatment of migraine without Aura. Int J Ayurveda Res 2010;1:30-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
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7.
Gorji A, Khaleghi Ghadiri M. History of headache in Medieval Persian medicine. Lancet Neurol 2002;1:510-5.   Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Kakunje A, Puthran S, Shihabuddeen IT, Chandran MV. ′Gas Syndrome′: A culture bound syndrome. Online J Health Allied Sci 2013;12:9.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Astin JA. Why patients use alternative medicine: Results of a national study. JAMA 1998;279:1548-53.  Back to cited text no. 9
    




 

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