As a person who works within the spirits industry (the drinkable not ghostly kind), I am often told of the detriments that accompany imbibing alcohol. We are reminded by our physicians, by our parents, by well-meaning, health-conscious friends, and by finger-wagging party poopers as to the many harms, dangers, and hazards that accompany a tipple or two, and are firmly advised to give hooch a wide berth lest we fall prey to its evils.
As a researcher by heart and by nature, I am always looking for an argument to counter the above—a dataset, a study, some persuasive proof that as long as one employs an element of good sense and restraint, one can find great joy and enrichment from the quaffing, the swilling, and the indulging of giggle water.
And I have found one.
In fact, I have found ten.
In truth, I have found more than ten, but I have narrowed the list to my ten favorites.
It takes a sturdy and determined nature to search through bland and archaically worded historical documents, but 15th century German physician, botanist, and alchemist, Hieronymus Brunschwig’s work deserves not only an unearthing, but a spotlight shined upon his analysis. So please, allow me to sing the praises of the unsung.
As Hieronymus sees it, the benefits to drinking alcohol are thus:
- It comforts the heart.
- Agreed. Nuff said.
- It heals all old and new sores on the head.
- Perhaps this is simply a slip of translation from German to English, but most of us might agree that alcohol is the cause of most sore-headedness and not the cure. *shrug
- It gives you good color.
- This is no doubt true, as how many of us have sat across from an individual at a pub—one who’s all rosy cheeked and glossy-eyed from an elixir’s effect—and so much the better for it?
- It cures baldness, body lice, and fleas.
- Currently, there is no data to support this theory, although perhaps we’re still in the infancy of further research.
- Dr. Brunschwig also believes it cures toothaches, bad breath, and cankers.
- This, I believe, explains why my dentist always smells of hooch when I go in for my annual cleaning.
- It causes the tongue to become well-speaking.
- Now who of us have yet to attend a party where some individual, perhaps having become a bit too free with the firewater, will toss off his tie, leap upon the nearest coffee table, and begin spouting off a soliloquy worthy of Shakespearian applause?
- It eliminates belching, farting, and the painful swelling of breasts.
- As these were my late Aunt Marge’s three most vociferous daily complaints, I feel somewhat cheated in missing the opportunity to aid her ailments.
- It dissolves bladder stones.
- Alas, I feel the Mayo may not be fully behind Herr Hieronymus on this one, but likely there exists one or two urologists out there who skipped this chapter in med school and would stand behind the tipple treatment versus cystolitholapaxy.
- It provides courage.
- There is ample historical evidence to endorse this argument simply by counting the number of battles won and marriages proposed.
- And lastly, my favorite medicinal remark in favor of partaking in the boozy bevies is that “It cures the bites of rabid dogs and heals all stinking wounds.”
- *sigh. Pure poetry, right?
And there we have it. Scholarly legwork is ongoing and appears to be just as contentious as the arguments for and against eggs, vitamins, and checking the morning headlines.
Surely at some point science will parse out the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the advantageous effects of ethanol and not simply roll collective eyes when we argue with limp proof of merely the desirable ones. Until that time, may I suggest you take heed from the sage words of the late, great Johnny Carson:
I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself.
So, cheers to you all, and to Heironymus Brunschwig for all his efforts. I toast to your good health with, Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy.
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Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all gossiped about down in the pub. Or check out last month’s post and catch up.