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Distillations | Science History Institute

325 EpisodesProduced by Science History InstituteWebsite

Each episode of Distillations podcast takes a deep-dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present.


Sex(ism), Drugs, and Migraines

Egyptian scriptures from 1200 BCE describe painful, migraine-like headaches, so we know the disorder has afflicted people for at least three thousand years. Still, the condition continues to mystify us today.

Anne Hoffman is a reporter, a professor, and a chronic migraine sufferer. She spent the past year tracing the history of migraines, hoping to discover clues about a treatment that actually works for her. The journey took her in some interesting directions. One common theme she found? A whole lot of stigma.


Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Reporter: Anne Hoffman Photo illustration by Jay Muhlin Additional audio production by Dan Drago


Theme music composed by Zach Young.

"Valantis" and "Valantis Vespers" by Blue Dot Sessions, courtesy of the Free Music Archive.

Additional music courtesy of the Audio Network.

Research Notes

Interviews Matthew Crawford, Doan Fellow, Science History Institute. Margaret Heaney, professor of neurobiology, Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Joanna Kempner, sociologist and author of Not Tonight: Migraine and the Politics of Gender and Health. Anne MacGregor, medical researcher and clinician. Brian McGeeney, assistant professor of neurology, Boston University School of Medicine.  Sources Brooklyn Museum, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. “Hildegarde of Bingen.” McClory, Robert. “Hildegard of Bingen: No Ordinary Saint.” National Catholic Reporter, March 24, 2012. Meares, Hadley. “The Medieval Prophetess Who Used Her Visions to Criticize the Church.” Atlas Obscura, July 13, 2016. PBS Frontline. “Hildegard’s Scivias.” Songfacts. Für Hildegard Von Bingen. Wikipedia. “Scivias.” Last modified October 23, 2018, Cannabidiol (CBD): Bazelot, Michaël, Chen Tong, Ibeas Bih, Dallas Mark, Clementino Nunn, Alistair V. W. Whalley Benjamin. “Molecular Targets of Cannabidiol in Neurological Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics 12 (2015): 699–730. Chen, Angus. “Some of the Parts: Is Marijuana’s ‘Entourage Effect’ Scientifically Valid?Scientific American, April 20, 2017. Grinspoon, Peter. “Cannabidiol (CBD)—What We Know and What We Don’t.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, August 24, 2018. Science Vs. “CBD: Weed Wonder Drug?” Podcast audio, November 15, 2018.. Migraine: Kempner, Joanna. “The Birth of the Dreaded ‘Migraine Personality.’” Migraine Again, November 30, 2017. Neighmond, Patti. “Why Women Suffer More Migraines Than Men.” Shots: Health News from NPR, National Public Radio, April 16, 2012. Peterlin, B. Lee, Saurabh Gupta, Thomas N. Ward, and Anne MacGregor. “Sex Matters: Evaluating Sex and Gender in Migraine and Headache Research.” Headache 51(6) (2011): 839–842. Sharkey, Lauren. “Why Don’t We Know More about Migraines?BBC Future, British Broadcasting Corporation, July 2, 2018. Wikipedia. “Aretaeus of Cappadocia.” Last modified December 6, 2018. Cannabis for Migraine: Mandal, Ananya. “Migraine History.” News-Medical, August 23, 2018. MDede. “Are Cannabinoids and Hallucinogens Viable Treatment Options for Headache Relief?Neurology Reviews 22(5) (2014): 22–23. Available at MDedge, Clinical Neurology News.

Archival: Grass—The History of Marijuana. Directed by Ron Mann. Toronto: Sphinx Productions, 1999. Hildegard of Bingen. Directed by James Runcie. London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1994. Reefer Madness. Directed by Louis J. Gasnier. Los Angeles: George A. Hirliman Productions, 1938.

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