Taking aspirin or another pain reliever to halt a headache is a common daily activity in developed nations. Many people don’t know that aspirin’s active ingredient is derived from a tree bark that’s been used for thousands of years in various parts of the world. Our ancestors employed numerous herbs with chemical properties that help to alleviate pain.
Since the time of the ancient Egyptians, the bark of the White willow tree has been used for pain relief. It contains salicin, a chemical that was identified during the first half of the 1800s, as the bark’s active ingredient. Because of the time and expense required in extracting this compound, a synthetic version, salicylic acid was created in Germany. Due to its side effects (ulcers in the intestinal tract and bleeding) a less harsh derivative, acetylsalicylic acid was named aspiring and sold as a pain reliever by Bayer.
Seeking to determine the effectiveness of local herbs, researchers at Griffith University in Australia recently published a report of the findings involving a study conducted for five years evaluating the properties of Lemon grass. It found that plant does relieve migraines and other headaches.
Native Australians have used this herb as a traditional medicine. The study was published in Evidence-based complementary and Alternative Medicine. Lemon grass interferes with and stops human platelets from clumping together similar to the actions of aspirin.
Dr. Kelly Rogers, Professor Lyn Griffiths and Dr. Darren Grice were the lead researchers and identified a specific lemon grass extract, eugenol as the chemical possessing the aspiring like clot prevention effect.
Platelets stick together and form clumps that are essential for repairing wounds. However, in other situations, their clumping is unwarranted, and can cause clots that lead to strokes, a life threatening situation.
“Headaches and migraines cause abnormal activities in our bodies, such as altering our serotonin levels and interfering with the normal function of our blood platelets,” Dr. Rice noted. “The compound eugenol inhibits platelets clumping together and the release of serotonin.”
Serotonin, is a chemical found in large concentrations in the brain that regulates many bodily functions including mood, sleep, muscle contraction, appetite, learning, memory and plays a role in the development of migraines.