In Babylon and Egypt, long considered as the birthplace of beer, the drink was offered to the gods and was mainly used by kings and at important festivals. The Egyptians also attributed a therapeutic effect to beer, and women of the upper classes used it for cosmetic purposes, ie. to freshen their skin and reduce the risk of certain skin conditions.
In ancient Greece Hippocrates used beer as a remedy to facilitate diuresis and the drink was also considered to act against fever. Alcohol was also used at this time to heal wounds. Aretus of Capadocia recommended it for diabetes and migraine. In the Middle Ages beer was used as a stimulant to improve mood. Appetite generating and calming properties were attributed to the hop, a component of beer. Up until a hundred years ago, hop-filled cushions were recommended for sleeping disorders.
In the beginning of this century, the harmful consequences of alcohol abuse came to light, and medicine adopted a sceptical attitude towards alcoholic drinks, including beer. The emergence of powerful medicines further pushed out the use of alcohol as a remedy. It is only in the last few years that there has been renewed interest for the beneficial effect of alcohol on health.