History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

24 March 2014

Hangover Cures

Considering the Georgian era was a time of hard drinking and mass overindulgence, one would think that finding period remedies for a hangover would be all too easy. Not so. Either I’m simply not using the right words* to elicit hits in period books, or they simply didn’t “treat” a pounding head as we do today. I don’t find any mention of sore heads brought on by drink in books of housekeeping receipts, or in medical treatment guides, or even in The Complete Servant, which tells you how to deal with all kinds of other strange challenges.

*I’ve tried every combination of headache, head-ache, head-ake, head-ach, cure, remedy, drunken, drunkenness, over indulgence that I can think of.

So what did I find? Well, “hair of the dog” both the phrase and concept are period. From the OED:

a hair of the dog that bit you : an alcoholic drink taken to cure a hangover.

1546   J. Heywood Dialogue Prouerbes Eng. Tongue i. xi. sig. Eiv,   I praie the leat me and my felowe haue A heare of the dog that bote vs last nyght.

1611   R. Cotgrave Dict. French & Eng. Tongues at Beste,   Our Ale-knights often vse this phrase, and say, Giue vs a haire of the dog that last bit vs.

1706   E. Ward Rambling Fuddle-Caps 4   We leap'd out of Bed with a strong Appetitus, To swallow a Hair of the Dog that had bit us.

1834   W. A. Caruthers Kentuckian in N.Y. I. iv,   He presently proposed that we should go..and see some fine fellers..who were going to have a night of it. Well, said I, ‘a little hair of the dog is good for the bite.’

1841   Dickens Barnaby Rudge lii. 239   Drink again. Another hair of the dog that bit you, captain!
As close a reference as I could find in The Complete Servant

That Charles II supposedly paid five thousand pounds for the receipt of his favorite cure, Goddard’s Drops, which appear to be some kind of volatile salts (aka smelling salts/spirit of hartshorn) that were applied to the temples for relief.

Culpeper says Juice of Ivy, inhaled!
And Pliny, who most of the men of the ton would have read at some point, recommended owl eggs and raw garlic (a precursor to Jeeves’s well known “Worcestershire sauce, raw egg, and pepper concoction?), or eels suffocated in wine before being eaten raw.
Anyone out there have a source that I’ve missed?


Blogger Carolyn Jewel said...

Well, maybe that WAS the hangover remedy.

I'd rather do that than eat raw suffocated eels. Oh yuck.

9:12 PM  

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