Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Ice cream headache

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 10 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1364

Rapid Response:

Re: Ice cream headache

Ibn-e- Sīnā known to the West as Avicenna (b: 980 AD, Afshana near Bukhara— d:Hamedan, 1037 AD) was one of the most outstanding and influential Persian physicians and philosophers (1). He wrote more than 450 treatises on medicine, philosophy, religion and logic.

Al-Qanun-fi-al-Tibb (The Canon of Medicine) is the most famous work among Avicenna’s medical books. He categorized diseases in the Canon of Medicine based on organ-based arrangement (2,3).

Neurologic diseases chapter is an attractive and detailed part of this book. One of the most important parts of neurologic chapter allocated to headache (Soda'). He mentioned several types of headache and discussed about a type of headache that named Soda' Sāzej Bāred (4).

Sāzej means simple and points to a disease that often is due to an obvious external factor (like malodorous smells or living in a noisy place). Bāred means cold and reflects this point that trigger factor is a cold thing (like eating a cold food).

So we can say that Ice cream headache, from Avicenna’s viewpoint, is an example of Simple Cold headache.

1. Gorji A., Khaleghi Ghadiri M. History of epilepsy in Medieval Iranian medicine. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2001 Jul;25(5):455-61.
2. Zargaran A., Mehdizadeh A., Zarshenas MM., Mohagheghzadeh A. Avicenna (980–1037 AD). J Neurol. 2012 Feb;259(2):389-90.
3. Tabei SZ., Riazi A., Medical Sciences in the Third Millennium: An Avicennian Approach. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2009;11(1):4-9.
4. Avicenna, The Canon (Persian translation), 3rd edition. Tehran: Ministry of Health and Medical Education of Iran, Committee of Computerizing Medicine and Hygiene, 2007.

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 May 2012
Mohammad Hashem Hashempur
Ph.D student
Heydari M.
Research center for Traditional Medicine and History of Medicine
Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.