To Your Health: 6 Wacky Medical Claims for Alcohol

Posted on: Dec. 29, 2015 | | By: Elizabeth Weiss

Rub a little whiskey on baby’s gums to soothe teething pain. Whip up a hot toddy to cure a cold. Alcohol has long been an ingredient of old-school tonics – but most people are familiar with these remedies. What about alcohol as a serious curative? In the old days, plenty of folks believed that alcohol was the solution for what ails ya. And, as it turns out, some people still believe in the medicinal power of booze.

If the Vatican says it’s good…

Armagnac, the oldest brandy distilled in France, was touted in a 1310 treaty (which has been preserved in the Vatican’s library since 1531) written by Franciscan cardinal Prior Vital Du Four as having 40 virtues, including the ability to delay senility, cure hepatitis, and dry tears. While Armagnac is now considered a gourmet digestive liqueur, current producers of the pricey drink would like to bring in a younger clientele of cocktail sippers. What better way than by promising to preserve youth and healthy skin?

Bleed her? Nah, give her some brandy

While home remedy fanatics believe that rubbing alcohol applied to the skin can bring down a fever, there was a time when brandy was fed to patients suffering severe fevers. The alcohol prescribed could make up almost 40 percent of the patient’s daily intake! Easily absorbed into the bloodstream and high in calories (presumed ideal for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t eat) alcohol was considered fitting for patients who suffered delirium. The kicker: While brandy was usually delivered orally, it was sometimes administered by injection, rectally, or intravenously. Yikes.

Forget salt water, gargle with whiskey

Sore throats are the worst. You know you’re getting sick, yet your body insists on torturing you with that horrendous pain every time you swallow. Salt water is hardly delightful to gargle with, especially if you accidentally drink a few drops. It’s been said that gargling with whiskey, combined with a spoonful of warm water (and even a teaspoon of honey too), can numb the throat. Of course, you’re not supposed to swallow this mixture either. Can’t someone just invent whiskey cough drops?

Drunk raisins for your joints

Arthritis sufferers are willing to do just about anything to ease their pain and, as it turns out, gin-soaked golden raisins are a folk remedy long believed to provide relief. The raisins must be golden (for their antioxidant properties) and the gin must be made with Juniper berries (packed with anti-inflammatory compounds). The raisins and gin must be combined in a canning jar and sit for a week at room temperature. The prescription: Eat 10 raisins a day.

Toothache? Drink up, Johnny

A toothache is as bad as a sore throat, but if you’re hoping a shot or two can dull the pain or strong liquor applied to the gums can bring relief, think again. It was during the Civil War era, and perhaps even earlier, when whiskey was believed to be a cure-all. But the drink isn’t going to knock out bacteria or major tooth pain, according to the American Dental Association. If you’re looking for a quick fix for a throbbing tooth, get thee to a dentist, not the liquor store.

Go to bed, kids!

Finally, if your kids are past the teething years and they still won’t go to sleep, subscribe to what one physician wrote in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine” in 1920: “Alcohol is, I suppose, the most valuable sedative and hypnotic drug we possess for infants and young children.”

Here’s to your health.

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