Ancient Egyptians wore laurel garlands to cure hangovers: study
Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, Photo Courtesy Of National Library Of Medicine

CAIRO: Garlands of laurel leaves were used in ancient Egypt to ease the pain caused by hangover headaches, according to a newly translated ancient Egyptian papyrus.

“Ancient Egyptians made a garland of leaves from a shrub called Alexandrian laurel and wore it around the neck, because it was thought this plant could relieve headaches,” Dr David Leith, a historian at the University of Exeter who translated the medical papyrus was quoted by

He added that “the plant name literally means ‘ground laurel/bay’, and its leaves are often compared to bay leaves in ancient botanical literature,” said Leith.

Written in Greek script, the 1,900 year-old papyrus dates back to Egypt’s Greco-Roman period (332 B.C.-390 A.D.) and was originally found in Oxyrhynchus; the modern Upper Egyptian city of El-Bahnasa, located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south-southwest of Cairo.

“The remedies appear to cross what we might see as the boundary between magic and medicine – and although some ancient doctors disliked making use of “magical” remedies, this was far from always the case,” said Leith.

Housed at Oxford University’s Library, the papyrus alongside other thousands of medical papyri known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri are owned by the Egypt Exploration Society.

According to, the papyri are the result of the Oxyrhynchus inhabitants’ habit of throwing their trash in the Sahara. The dumps remained covered by sand until 1896, when Oxford archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt began excavating the area.

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