Six Crazy Hangover Remedies Used Throughout Ancient History

Everyone has their own hangover cures; whether they work or not is obviously debatable. What’s for sure is that our modern-day ways of getting over a banging headache and vague sense of regret are way more palatable than they used to be. 

Humans have been drinking too much since way before painkillers, burgers, or energy drinks existed to ease the pain. And some of the ways they used to deal with the consequences are pretty mind-blowing… here are just a few. Apologies in advance if these don’t make your nausea any better.

HORSE BRAIN
(China)

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Some ancient Chinese texts refer to ma’nao – or horse brain – as a recommended way to beat a hangover, though there aren’t many specifics available on how exactly to prepare or consume it. Which is… maybe for the best. The book this info comes from, ‘Avoiding the Dire Straits’ by Mathieu Torck, points out that the ma’nao could technically refer to a less exciting mineral (agate) used in traditional Chinese medicine. But, since horses were readily available at the time, especially to soldiers, and there was no taboo on eating them, it doesn’t take much to imagine that’s not what they meant.

DEEP-FRIED CANARY &
SWALLOW’S BEAKS
(Ancient Rome)

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If there’s one thing that we know about the Ancient Romans its that they liked to party, so it makes sense that they had a range of intriguing hangover remedies. One supposed cure was to consume the beaks of sparrows, once they’d been burned and ground to ash. Yum. According to the writer Pliny the Elder, a whole deep-fried canary, sheep lungs, and raw owl eggs were also on the morning-after menu.

BULL PENIS
(Italy)

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Formerly known as pizzle, dried bull penis is apparently something that partiers on the island of Sicily used to swear by as a hangover cure in centuries past. The reasons that they thought it would help range from the vitamins and proteins in it to the idea that your hangover would be so disgusted with you that it would literally leave your body. We’ve certainly been so disgusted with our hangovers that we could leave our body behind.

SHEEP’S EYES
(Mongolia)

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Though it’s actually still used in Mongolia today, this one goes all the way back to at least the days of Genghis Khan. Specifically, the remedy is pickled sheep’s eyeballs. There’s actually something to be said for pickled things in general as a hangover cure, given their high salt content. The eyes, though, we can’t speak on. Who knows, maybe they’re onto something.

OYSTERS, ANCHOVIES &
COW’S TONGUE
(England)

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To those that poke fun at the U.K.’s cuisine, well… maybe you’ve got a point. These delicious-sounding ye-olde-English remedies come from a menu prepared by famed 1600’s London writer and diarist Samuel Pepys for New Year’s Day. On the menu for the first meal of the year were a barrel of oysters, a large bowl of anchovies, and smoked cow’s tongue. Oh, and loads of wine and ale, which presumably made it all go down a whole lot easier.

RABBIT DUNG TEA
(U.S.)

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Thought cowboys were cool? You might have to think again after hearing about what they drank the morning after one too many in the saloon, circa the 1850s. A go-to was apparently pellets of rabbit dung, brewed into a tea. There might be some nutrients in there, we guess, but we’re not in the Wild West anymore. Just get a burger.

And there you have it! As you nurse your pounding head this weekend, at least be thankful for the fact that the options available to you today are more appetizing. And for aspirin.

If you’re currently on the right side of a hangover, then a range of quality wines, craft beers and cocktail sets are available now on the BottlesXO app for instant delivery in Shanghai and Suzhou. Click here to download the app and start ordering.