Tag Archives: Medicine

What Did Prohibition Require?

Prohibition in the United States lasted from 1920 – 1933. Its mention conjures up illicit drinking in speakeasies and bloody gangster activities, but do you know what were the official parameters?

The effort that culminated in banning booze in our nation began well before the Civil War (1861-1865). Its proponents were looking to achieve a more moral and productive society, and they thought that keeping people from drinking would solve significant societal ills.

The legislation that resulted in Prohibition was actually quite unsatisfactory to teetotalers (people who do not drink). They saw it as not stringent enough.

At no point during Prohibition was illegal to DRINK alcohol. It was only illegal to make, sell, or transport it. While having a stockpile of alcohol was perfectly legal, however you could not do so at more than 2 residences—and at that one home had to be in the city and one in the country.

There were also medical and religious exemptions. Doctors could actually write prescriptions for booze, and religious leaders could dole it out for official ceremonies.

Plenty of people broke the law to drink during Prohibition, but there were many who imbibed while following the law.

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Star Anise Can Be Used to Fight Off the Flu

Tamiflu has been show to speed recovery from influenza A and B by up to 18 hours. If my Wikipdedia-ing is correct, it works by making it hard for the flu virus to jump from cell to cell.

The active agent in Tamiflu is made available from shikimic acid found in Star Anise, and up to 90% of the world’s supply of Star Anise has been used to make this medicine.

Mind you, I am a bartender and not a doctor, so I am not recommending booze to fight a viral infection, but I do think I’ll add Star Anise to my next Hot Toddy…

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Can You Brew Beer with Gorilla-Food?

Animals in captivity require different diets than their counterparts in the wild. For this reason, it is sometimes difficult for zoos to house new animals, since they may not initially know of their dietary and medicinal needs.

An African spice described as tasting of ginger, cardamom, and pepper has been found to prevent a heart condition in gorillas in zoos.

Sam Adams incorporates this same spice—known as Grains of Paradise—in their annual Summer Ale.

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Whiskey + 1941 A.D. = Aspirin

Those of us who enjoy cocktails owe a debt of gratitude to the medical community. Be it straight out of the bottle or infused with herbs, for thousands of years doctors and healers have turned to alcohol for treatment of all manner of disorders.

Somewhere along the line people started enjoying the feeling that herb-infused medicinal alcohol afforded, and when mixed with wine birthed the grandfather of Vermouth.

More recently, in 1941 Dr. Harold George Wolff of Cornell University declared that, “Whiskey is one of the cheapest and best painkillers known to man.” According to his studies, 2 ounces of whiskey would increase human threshold for pain by 45% for 2 hours.

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The Old Fashioned Cocktail Originally had a Confusing Name

As David Wondrich argues in Imbibe! the evolution of the cocktail began with the simple combination of alcohol & medicinal herbs, and ultimately culminates in the Old Fashioned: humanity’s first true cocktail.

Today we refer to it as an Old Fashioned, but originally when you wanted to order one you would ask the barkeep for a Cocktail. As time went on bartenders fiddled with the recipe and fancied it up in a thousand different ways.

When persnickety ‘Cocktail’ drinkers grew tired of the new manifestations of their favorite drink they would order an, “Old Fashioned Cocktail, dadgumit!” Later on the word cocktail would come to refer to any mixed drink.

BFD_03.27.19_Ety.Old Fashion-01

Ancient Medicinal Beer

Through scientific analysis anthropologists have determined that citizens of the Ancient Kingdom of Nubia (predecessors to the Ancient Egyptian Empire) brewed beer with tetracycline.

This means that they were deliberately brewing beer chocked full of antibiotics. Skeletal remains of adults and children as young as 4 display evidence of this throughout their bones.

BFD_02.21.19_His.Antibiotic Beer

Whiskey Guts

Humanity’s history with alcohol can be traced back to two basal “roots”: religious and medicinal. This post regards the medicinal parent of our shared alcohol history.

Our ancestors have recorded all sorts of anecdotes referencing the use of today’s cocktail ingredients for medicinal applications. Bitters used to be a treatment for an upset stomach. Tonic helped prevent malaria. Grog (rum + lime juice + sugar) kept scurvy at bay.

There are some treatments, however, for which I have yet to find credible documentation. James Madison (our 4th President) drank a pint of whiskey daily to, “aid his digestion”.