Why Not Try This Newly Discovered 1,900-Year-Old Hangover Cure?

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Most people like a drink—even the ancient Egyptians, it seems. While sifting through ancient texts, researchers have found a reference to a “drunken headache cure” that was used 1,900 years ago.

The suggested cure was found amongst 500,000 texts originally found during archaeological investigations of Oxyrhynchus, in Egypt, back in 1915. The scraps of papyrus now sit in the University of Oxford’s Sackler Library, though they’re difficult to translate because there are so many and lots are seriously damaged.

The cure for a “drunken headache” is published in the most recent transcription from the Oxyrhynchus papyrus records. It describes that the sufferer should string together the leaves of a shrub called Alexandrian chamaedaphne — often claimed at the time to ease headaches—and then possibly wear the result around their neck. It’s not clear how effective the cure was.

In fact, this is just one of 30 medical records recently published. Others describe “acute diseases, medical recipes, surgical texts, and doctors’ reports.” One translation, by Marguerite Hirt from the University of Cambridge, is particularly gruesome:

“… the eye … I began … by the temple … the other from the temple … to remove with a small round-bladed knife … the edge of the eyelid from outside … from within until I scooped out …”

Things may have moved on with hangover cures — but not necessarily with all surgery. [Egypt Exploration Society with Live Science]

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