Why Would a Laurel Wreath Be a Hangover Remedy?

A Greco-Roman papyrus recommends stringing together Alexandrian laurel twigs into a necklace and wearing it, if you have a “drunken headache” or hangover.

Laurel wreaths = bay leaves. Fresh bay leaves are full of some of the same stuff as eucalyptus. Twigs also contain the same aromatics. The smell apparently lowers blood pressure in some people.

So yeah, a refreshing smell that might clear your head and make you feel a little better.

The article isn’t entirely clear if we are talking about Laurus nobilis or another plant, the “Alexandrian laurel.” There are two guesses about what this ancient tree was, if it wasn’t an actual laurel. One is Calophyllum inophyllum, which is native to Africa and has leaves that are used as a migraine cure in some countries. Unfortunately the sap is poisonous, so you’d want to be cautious using those twigs as aromatics!

The other is Danae racemosa, an evergreen native to Iran and Turkey that’s only decorative. (So it’s probably not the one being used.)

This doesn’t mean that everything done in the ancient world was sensible, but they weren’t any stupider than people today. Modern people need to think before they assume..


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