M. Luedke, E. W. Massey Neurosciences and History 2015;3(3):96-100
Type of article: ORIGINAL
M. Luedke1, E. W. Massey1 1Department of Neurology. Duke University Hospital, Durham, NC, USA.
Thomas Jefferson, the 18th and 19th century revolutionary, statesman, and third President of the United States, suffered numerous debilitating headaches throughout his lifetime. These headaches, or 'fits' as he called them, have fascinated historians. They have alternatively been identified as migraines, tension, or cluster headaches; yet, despite Jefferson's copious personal records and correspondence, his headaches continue to defy classification.
While the cause of Jefferson's headaches remains debatable, Jefferson was explicit regarding his choice of headache pharmacotherapy. His records catalogue numerous purchases of 'bark', referring to an 18th century fever-treatment called Jesuit or Peruvian bark. Jefferson's choice of this treatment provides insight into 18th century headache medicine. Likewise, an understanding of Jesuit Bark, and its biologically active component, quinine, permits a novel reexamination of Jefferson's headaches.
Thomas Jefferson, headache, Jesuit Bark, quinine, Cinchona
Neurosciences and History 2015;3(3):96-100
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