Trying to ease a bad hangover? Wearing a necklace made from the leaves of a shrub called Alexandrian laurel would do the job, according to a newly translated Egyptian papyrus.
The "drunken headache cure" appears in a 1,900-year-old text written in Greek and was discovered during the ongoing effort to translate more than half a million scraps of papyrus known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri.
Housed at Oxford University's Sackler Library, the enormous collection of texts contains lost gospels, works by Sophocles and other Greek authors, public and personal records and medical treatises dating from the first century AD to the sixth century A.D.
Ancient Medical Kit Held Veggie Pills
The key ingredient listed to treat the hangover - the slow growing evergreen Danae racemosa - wasn't exactly known for its medical properties.
The plant was used in Greek and Roman times to crown distinguished athletes, orators and poets.
Whether stringing its leaves and wearing the strand around the neck had any effect to relieve headaches in alcohol victims isn't known.
The improbable hangover remedy is part of a newly published volume containing about 30 medical papyri found at Oxyrhynchus. The documents were translated by researchers at the University of Oxford and University College London.
Peering Inside an Ancient Papyrus: Photos
The new book, the 80th to be released during the century-old ongoing translation effort, represents "the largest single collection of medical papyri to be published," according to an introductory note by Vivian Nutton, a professor at University College London.
The Oxyrhynchus Papyri were unearthed in 1898 from a Greco-Roman dump in the ancient Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus, about 100 miles south of Cairo.
The city flourished after the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C., remained prominent in Roman and Byzantine times, but began to decline after the Arab conquest in 641 A.D.
The collection is the result of the Oxyrhynchus inhabitants's habit of throwing their trash in the desert. The dumps remained covered by sand until 1896, when Oxford archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt began excavating the area.
Apart from the hangover remedy, the latest batch of newly translated papyri include complex treatments for hemorrhoids, toothache, and various eye conditions, Live Science reported.
Video: Sprite Cures Hangovers!
One recipe for treating rheum, a mucus discharged from the eyes, uses a concoction of copper flakes, antimony oxide, white lead, washed lead dross, starch, dried roses, rain water, gum Arabic, poppy juice and a plant called Celtic spikenard, known today to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
A papyrus fragment also contains a gruesome description of eye surgery, providing a first person account of an everted eyelid (turned inside out) treatment. Translated by Cambridge scholar Marguerite Hirt, the text reads:
"The eye ... I began ... by the temple ... the other from the temple ... to remove with a small round-bladed knife ... the edge of the eyelid from outside ... from within until I scooped out."
Image: Alexandrian laurel. Credit: Lazaregagnidze/Wikimrdia Commons