Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wednesday's article in The Oregonian, "Oregon's suicide headache tree," reported that the camphor scent from the Oregon myrtle (also called California laurel) can cause severe headaches in some people and may contain important clues to "understanding mysterious cluster headaches."

Italian researches began to investigate the connection between Oregon myrtle and these headaches after learning of the case of a 69-year-old gardener who "was struck by a severe headache centered in his left eye" while pruning Oregon myrtle.

According to The Oregonian, Oregon myrtle was used by Native Americans to treat headaches: "Sufferers inhaled crushed leaves or applied a poultice to the forehead," a practice that bears comparison to homeopathy, which is based on "the principle of similars," according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website. The principle of similars, or "like cures like," states that "a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people."

Researcher Dr. Silvia Benemei of the University of Florence told The Oregonian, "'We are close to the identification of the mechanism.' [...] Finding the responsible chemicals could help explain what causes the disorder, and perhaps point the way to better treatments."

Image by Walter Siegmund (200&0 from

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