If you don’t have local saint you can call upon to cure the after-effects of a party, there are a few other
|Field Cabbage or Colewort|
Wearing a piece of jewellery that incorporated an amethyst was also supposed to ward off drunkenness. While an old Lincolnshire belief was that three horseshoes nailed to the bedhead would allow the person who slept in that bed to drink as much as he liked without becoming over-talkative.
Ivy used to be hung outside taverns as a sign that the wine was sold there, because ivy was sacred to the gods Bacchus and Dionysus, both gods of wine. A bowl made from ivy wood was thought to have the power to separate water from wine. If you knew you were in for a heavy night, drinking vinegar in which ivy berries had been soaked was supposed to protect the stomach from the ill-effects, while after a bout of drinking you were advised to boil ivy leaves and drink the water in which they’d been cooked.
In the 17th Century they distilled acorns to make a drink that would prevent alcoholics from craving alcohol. But the ancient Greeks claimed an owl egg broken into a cup would put you off alcohol for life.
On the other hand, if you wanted to heighten the effects of alcohol, you would have mixed the ashes of human bones with your favourite tipple to make you drunk more quickly.
Cyclamen, though a purging and emetic plant was also known as the ‘drinkers plant’ because it was said to hate the sobering plants and love the grape. Adding a little cyclamen to wine was believed to markedly increase the alcoholic effect. Whereas eating cakes of cyclamen was thought to make you a good lover. It also helped prevent baldness in men if you stuffed it up your nose, presumably not at the same time you were attempting to use it as an aphrodisiac. Curiously, while parsley seeds sprinkled over the head three times a year was also supposed to prevent hair loss, parsley seeds were also supposed help men with ‘weak brains’ stand up to the effects of alcohol better.
|The Bitter Tonic by Adriaen Brouwer (1605-1638)|
Apparently though, parsley didn't work for every one, for in the Middle Ages they identified four levels of drunkenness which were supposed to correspond with how men behaved at each stage – sheep-drunk, lion-drunk, ape-drunk and sow-drunk. Seems rather unfair on the animals, though I think it does describe the stages vividly.
A final piece of advice on alcohol is to be found in John Myrc Instructions for Priests written in the late 14th Century. ‘But what if you are so drunk that your tongue will not serve you? Then you must not baptise the baby on any account, unless you can say the words.’
I’m sure many a mother has been grateful for that instruction, for quite apart from the danger of dropping the infant, there is always the problem of what the poor child might end up with as a name.