15 Revolting Hangover Cures From History


1. Ancient Greece: Boiled cabbage.

The Greeks recommended eating boiled cabbage after a heavy night, claiming that the strong smell helped to restored the senses.

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2. Ancient Rome: Raw owl’s eggs and fried canary.

Thanks to Pliny the Elder, raw owl’s eggs or fried canary were the brunch of choice.

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3. Ancient Egypt: Put a spell on some beer.

Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts, translated by J. F. Borghouts, offers this spell to cure what ails you.

Hail to you Lady of Hetepet (Hathor, goddess of drunkenness)! There is no restraining Seth when he has set his heart on conquering a heart in that name of his of “Beer,” to confuse a heart, to conquer the heart of an enemy, a fiend, a male ghost, a female ghost, etc. This spell is said during the drinking of beer; to be spat up. Truly effective, (proved) millions of times!

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4. Mesopotamian: Licorice.

Via Alcoholism: Elizabeth C. Penick, Oxford University Press,

This combo was offered as a cure: “Take licorice, beans, oleander… to be compounded with oil and wine before the approach of the goddess Gula (or sunset).”

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5. Assyrians: Ground up swallow beak.

The Assyrians had a handy cure- mix the the beak of a swallow with Myrrh oil and down it.

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6. Middle ages: Raw eel.

Raw eel not floating your boat? Bitter almonds were also thought to help things along.

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7. 1600s: Goddard’s Drops.

Created by physician Jonathan Goddard, ‘Goddard’s Drops’ contained ammonia mixed with “a few irrelevancies added, such as skull of a person hanged, dried viper, and the like”. King Charles II was fond of the drops as a hangover cure.

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8. 1600s: Juice of Tree Ivy squirted up the nostrils.

You can thank herbalist Nicholas Culpeper for this one.

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9. 1700s: Thyme.

And you can thank Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus for this one.

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10. 1800s: Soot.

Enterprising chimney sweeps had a glass of warm milk with a teaspoon of soot.

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11. 1824: Vinegar around the temples.


A helpful hangover cure, from The Medical Adviser - pour vinegar down the afflicted’s throat, and rub it in the temples too. If this didn’t work, then a bucket of water over the head.

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12. 1853: D.R. Harris Pick Me Up Tonic.

Invented in 1853, and sadly not on sale any longer, this tonic was favoured by the gentry, and contained cardamom, ammonia, cloves and camphor.

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13. 1878: Prairie Oyster.

A dark day, when the Prairie Oyster was invented. Raw egg yolk, Worcester sauce, Tabasco, vinegar, salt and pepper. BLERRGHHHHHHH.

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14. 1881: Peppermint water.

How about this Victorian hangover cure?

5 grams Sulphate of Iron
10 grams Magnesia
11 drops Peppermint water
1 drop Spirit of Nutmeg

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15. 1938: Coca-Cola and milk.

online.wsj.com / Via edithshead.tumblr.com Condé Nast Publications

Invented by the head banquet man at the Ritz, this cure involved shaking a bottle of chilled Coke, and squirting it into a glass of cold milk. This cure was served at the coming out party of Brenda Frazier, whose press agent commented that after the cure “you take a little nap and after that you feel wonderful.”

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All images via The British Library under Creative Commons unless otherwise stated.

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Ailbhe Malone is the UK lifestyle editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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