The therapeutic value of beer
Every few months, another article hits the news columns proclaiming the health benefits of beer.
Personally, I've always figured this was just the Republicans' idea of healthcare reform: Who needs a single-payer system when you've got a sixpack in the fridge?
It turns out, though, mankind has been studying the therapeutic value of beer for centuries. In the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt, the Old English of the Anglo-Saxons, the prescriptions of Victorian Era quacks and the scientific jargon of modern medical journals, beer emerges as the eternal cure for what ales ya.
Asthma — Boil sage and fennel in sweetened ale, drink hot as needed. Anglo-Saxon Lacugna (Remedies), 10th century.
Bleeding, therapeutic promotion of — Leeches draw blood more effectively if they're first soaked in cold beer. The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1885.
Boils — One ounce of beer yeast, applied three times a day. The Dispensatory of the United States of America.
Breast cancer — Xanthohumol, a flavonoid of hops, inhibits development of potentially carcinogenic chemical compounds. Drug Metabolism & Disposition, 2000.
Breast milk, improved quality of — In women of suitable nationality and disposition, malted liquors such as beer, porter or stout may be used, but always bearing in mind the possibility of starting the alcohol habit. The breast should be massaged twice daily for five or 10 minutes. Diet in Health and Disease, 1919.
Cognition — Six beers a week reduces dementia in adults over 65. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003.
Constipation — Take two pennies' weight of the inside of bitter cucumber, remove seeds and pound in light beer. Give this to drink. It will move the bowels. Old English Herbarium, 10th century.
Heart disease — Four glasses of beer daily increases HDL (good) cholesterol. Journal of Lipid Research, 2001.
Hypertension — One beer per day reduces blood pressure. Nurses' Health Study, 2009.
Constipation — Mix half an onion in the froth of beer. Drink it. This is also a delightful remedy against death. Ebers Papyrus, 1550 BCE.
Halitosis — A draught of wormwood beer, taken every morning, is a certain remedy for stinking breath. It likewise cures dimness of fight by antipathy. English Physician, Nicholas Culpeper, 1652.
Hiccups — Pound yarrow roots, soak in good beer, drink lukewarm. Old English Herbarium.
Kidney stones — Each bottle of beer consumed per day reduces risk of stones by 40 percent. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1998.
Labor pains — A mixture of saffron and beer massaged into a woman's abdomen will reduce childbirth discomfort. Ebers Papyrus.
Long life — Cod-liver oil floating in spoonful of brandy and water, one pint Scotch ale daily. Medical Times and Gazette, 1852.
Menstruation, restoration of — Prepare a poultice of beer dregs, green mugwort and barley meal, plaster on the genitalia. Then drink a cupful of the same. Anglo-Saxon Leechdom, 9th century.
Osteoporosis — Two glasses of beer daily provide enough dietary silicon to promote bone density. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 2010.
Pregnancy, abortion of — Place sweet beer, honey and other plants in woman's genitals for four days. Ebers Papyrus.
Sexual virility, reduction of — Agrimony boiled in Welsh beer will curb male horniness. Bald's Leechbook, 9th century.
Stroke — One beer per day decreases the risk of suffering a stroke by 20 percent. The New England Journal of Medicine, 1999.
Syphilis — A decoction of the tops of hops will open obstructions of the liver and spleen, cleansing the blood, loosening the belly, expelling the gravel and provoking urine while curing the "French disease." Culpeper.
Tremors — One to three fluid drams of Tinctura Lupuli (hops soaked in alcohol). The Dispensary of the United States of America.