400-year-old hangover remedies to combat festive overindulgence

A traditional hangover treatment featuring a thyme-infused plaster and a 17th century indigestion remedy have been included in a Christmas and new year wellbeing campaign.

A hangover may be cured by 400-year-old remedies. Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Loughborough University is using its social media accounts and the hashtag #LboroExperts on Twitter to offer information on alcohol’s impact on sleep patterns, and advice on how to coax children into ditching fussy eating habits.

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Alongside science-based tips, the campaign has also featured an insight into a purported treatment for indigestion featuring the contents of a sperm whale’s guts.

An easy recipe for so-called surfeit water from the late 17th century has been adapted for the campaign by Dr Sara Read, an expert on early modern literature and medicine.

Dr Read said: “Overindulgence of food and drink was generally known as a surfeiting and was often associated with the Christmas festivities.

“Cures to ease the symptoms of a surfeit - a heavy stomach and vomiting - included a medicated drink, known as a surfeit water.”

One version of the drink listed in a 17th and 18th century manuscript recipe book required two quarts of aqua vitae, infused with damask rose water, white sugar, raisins and ambergris - a substance produced in the digestive systems of whales.

A 1616 guide highlighted by Dr Read, which originated in France, advises making a “frontlet” to be applied to the forehead infused with thyme, maidenhair - a type of fern - and roses.

Dr Read concedes that the remedy “might not be as fortifying as the classic fry-up.”

The university’s Christmas and new year health and wellbeing campaign is aimed at using the knowledge and experience of academics and professionals to give advice about physical and mental wellness over the festive season, and will continue into next year.