EVERY FEW months, another article hits the news, proclaiming the health benefits of beer.
I've always figured this was just the Republicans' idea of health-care reform: Who needs a single-payer system when you have a sixpack in the fridge?
It turns out, though, that mankind has been studying the therapeutic value of beer for centuries. In the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt, the Old English of the Anglo Saxons, the prescriptions of Victorian quacks and the scientific jargon of modern medical journals, beer emerges as the eternal cure for what "ales" ya.
Beer was included in the Dispensatory of the United States of America - the official list of government-approved pharmacy drugs - till the early 1900s.
Don't believe in the power of beer? Dr. Sixpack M.D. (Malt Drinker) will explore a few age-old beer treatments during a special Happy Hour Yoga workshop on March 31. It's an upbeat, one-hour yoga class for all levels led by Mrs. Sixpack (a/k/a yoga therapist Theresa Conroy) at Roxborough's Yoga on the Ridge (511 Conarroe St., rear), followed by a tutored sampling session on the tradition of "healing beers" led by your friendly beer reporter.
Registration is $25 at www.joesixpack.net. It's a fun, healthy beer-tasting. (But remember: It's for medicinal purposes only.)
Not into yoga? Here's a handy self-medication guide compiled from current (and no-so-current) medical literature.
Asthma: Boil sage and fennel in sweetened ale, drink hot as needed. Anglo-Saxon Lacugna (Remedies), 10th century.
Bleeding, therapeutic promotion of: Leeches draw blood more effectively if they're first soaked in cold beer. The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1885.
Boils: One ounce of beer yeast, applied three times a day. Dispensatory of the United States of America.
Breast cancer: Xanthohumol, a flavonoid of hops, inhibits development of potentially carcinogenic chemical compounds. Drug Metabolism & Disposition, 2000.
Breast milk, improved quality of: "In women of suitable nationality and disposition, malted liquors such as beer, porter or stout may be used, but always bearing in mind the possibility of starting the alcohol habit. The breast should be massaged twice daily for five or 10 minutes." Diet in Health and Disease, 1919.
Cognition: Six beers a week reduces dementia in adults over 65. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003.
Constipation: Take two pennies' weight of the inside of the bitter cucumber, remove seeds and pound in light beer. "Give this to drink. It will move the bowels." Old English Herbarium.
Constipation: Mix half an onion in the froth of beer. Drink it. "This is also a delightful remedy against death." Ebers Papyrus, 1550 BCE.
Halitosis: "A draught of wormwood beer, taken every morning, is a certain remedy for stinking breath. It likewise cures dimness of fight by antipathy." English Physician, Nicholas Culpeper, 1652.
Heart disease: Four glasses of beer daily increases HDL (good) cholesterol. Journal of Lipid Research, 2001.
Hypertension: One beer a day reduces blood pressure. Nurses' Health Study, 2009.
Hiccups: Pound yarrow roots, soak in good beer, drink lukewarm. Old English Herbarium.
Kidney stones: Each bottle of beer consumed per day reduces risk of stones by 40 percent. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1998.
Long life: Cod-liver oil floating in spoonful of brandy and water, one pint Scotch ale daily. Medical Times and Gazette, 1852.
Osteoporosis: Two glasses of beer daily provide enough dietary silicon to promote bone density. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 2010.
Sexual virility, reduction of: Agrimony boiled in Welsh beer will curb male horniness. Bald's Leechbook, 9th century.
Stroke: One beer per day decreases the risk of suffering a stroke by 20 percent. The New England Journal of Medicine, 1999.
Tremors: One to three fluid drams of Tinctura Lupuli (hops soaked in alcohol). Dispensatory of the United States of America.
"Joe Sixpack" is by Don Russell, director of Philly Beer Week. For more on the beer scene, sign up for his weekly email update at www.joesixpack.net. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.