So… you can probably guess what prompted this particular post. I’m sitting here with my water and my Ritz crackers regretting that bottle of wine and thinking about all the ridiculous ways that I’ve seen and heard people try to get rid of their hangovers and I thought hey, why not make a comprehensive list?
What Is a Hangover?
Sure, we’ve (almost) all been there; you’re dizzy and nauseous and thirsty and hungry and oh god, why would I even do this to myself?!? But… what is it actually? What’s going on inside your body to make you feel that way? According to Adam Rogers: Proof, The Science of Booze, the best explanation we have right now is essentially your body is responding to the alcohol (which is, may I remind you, actual literal poison, even if it is delicious) the same way it would an infection, so your immune system becomes inflamed. In his own, rather more technical words:
“Hangovers are accompanied by elevated levels of molecules called cytokines, molecules used as communications signals by the immune system. One research team in Korea found elevated levels of interleukin-10, interleukin-12, and interferon gamma in their hungover subjects. If you inject those into a healthy subject, that person will start to have all kinds of familiar sounding symptoms, including nausea, gastrointestinal distress, headache, chills, and fatigue.”Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers, p.194
In addition, research has taken the time to rule out the common suspects when it comes to being hungover:
Dehydration: Basically, drinking water is always going to make you feel good so you should definitely still stay hydrated, but if it was just dehydration then drinking a glass of water or getting an IV drip would make it magically disappear.
Acetaldehyde: the chemical alcohol leftovers after your liver has done its job. Apparently we feel the hangover the worst as the Acetaldehyde starts to break down and leave the body, not when it’s at its peak.
Blood Sugar: While there might be some correlation between sugary drinks and feeling more hungover the next day, unfortunately if it were just low blood sugar, we would be able to eat some sugar and call it good. I’m sure we all know that hasn’t magically fixed a hangover before.
And Finally, my favorite, Congeners: Congeners are essentially the ‘impurities’ that remain in your spirits after distillation. In addition to being what gives the whiskey and rum and all the other spirits their distinct flavors, they are vodka’s favorite punching bag. Vodka drinkers (and companies) will often tout how vodka doesn’t give you a hangover because it’s so “pure” and doesn’t have congeners. While some not very scientific studies have been done to try to prove or disprove this, my personal opinion is that in many ways you’re going to run into pre-conceived biases on this front. People often have an idea already of what gets them drunk more or faster, or how they behave differently when drinking tequila versus whiskey, etc. etc. Oftentimes, I believe people will merely perceive their hangover to be worse after a night of drinking wine because they expect it to be worse and it’s not like they can do side by side comparisons of their hangovers (or would want to) so the myth continues to get solidified in their mind every time they experience it again.
What can you do about it?
Now this is the fun part, comparing hangover cures! I’ve scoured the web for the most popular cures, along with companies touting to have the magical cure, and placed them all conveniently here for your perusal.
Also, as a side not these are all pertaining to Hangovers, the remnants of a single night of drinking which should dissipate within a day regardless of what you do.Do not confuse this with Alcohol Withdraw, which is what happens if someone drinks consistently and frequently enough that their body has become dependent on it. If your friend is trying to stop drinking and they begin to go into alcohol withdraw, you should get them to a doctor. You can absolutely die from trying to detox without medical assistance.
Hair of the Dog
An age old classic, you start to feel hungover and there is only one course of action: Drink more! We’ve gotten some of the best drinks this way, the Bloody Mary, The Corpse Reviver #2 (my favorite), the Bellini… but there are some things to consider before you jump on this bandwagon. For example, when “Hair of the Dog” first became a ‘thing’, it was at a point in American History where it was completely acceptable, and in some professions encouraged, for men to drink while working. For some, while it was inappropriate to drink AT the office, you certainly could still have something with breakfast, lunch, and a working happy hour. That is… no longer the case, to put it lightly. In addition, it doesn’t actually cure anything, it just delays your hangover until later. Depending on what you are planning for the day (or your weekend), that may be perfectly acceptable. Speaking only for myself, if I start drinking before 3, I’m pretty much guaranteed to just fall asleep… at least I sleep through the worst of the hangover?
All the rage about 4/5 years ago, IV drips claim to revive and restore you using a standard medical IV filled with water and (usually) vitamins and supplements. A quick google search yielded all sorts of results but the one that caught my eye was DripDoctors,What looks to be a pretty standard IV service. One of the big selling points with these businesses is that they are mobile so they can come to you be it at work or at home and in 30-60 minutes you will be good as new! Now, we’ve already covered the fact that if it was just dehydration this would be the easiest cure in the world, but that’s not the only thing that’s causing hangovers… there are a host of other factors going on.
These companies pack their saline bags with however many good sounding vitamins they can and load you up… whether those vitamins actually do anything to combat hangovers is a different story. According to Adam Rogers, the only vitamin that has been truly scientifically proven to maybe do anything about hangovers is pyritinol, 2 molecules of B6 stuck together. None of the sites I saw mentioned anything about this particular molecule. It is also worth noting that many of these treatments start at over $160… I don’t know about you but I could get some gummy ‘vites and a quiet room for an hour for a lot less than that.
Suppliments & More
Morning Recovery, Detoxicated, Blowfish For Hangovers, Bytox, and god only knows how many more. They all have a few things in common: Some kind of “Doctor” invented it, it’s ‘scientifically proven’, it’s packed with much needed vitamins. First thing to keep in mind, ‘Doctor’ or Engineer or whatever they find to tout this product, doesn’t mean a damn thing. First of all, you don’t know if they were any good at their job, and second of all, selling trumped up vitamins to drunk 20-somethings with too much money is a way less stressful job than juggling peoples lives and very well could pay better. Next up, “Scientifically proven”, could mean that people who take vitamin C after drinking will feel better tomorrow. Now, you were going to feel better tomorrow anyways but if they can get 10 out of 20 people to say they think they feel better than they would have, congratulations! You’ve just contributed another shitty, biased study to the scientific community.
The other hair of the dog
Is there anything weed can’t fix? No, according to pretty much everyone that smokes it. With legalization well underway across the U.S. it’s no surprise that people are looking to pot to fix what alcohol has done to them. Many online enthusiasts recommend certain strains for relieving your hangover symptoms, while some companies are jumping on the bandwagon. This one using hemp oil even claims to be safe for government workers since it doesn’t show up on drug tests! Once again I must ask myself… are you really ‘curing’ it, or just using another drug to ignore the symptoms?
Just like, a fuckton of foods
And here is the fun part, all the various foods and herbs and silly shit that’s supposed to make you feel like a million bucks with just a quick trip to the grocery store!
|Honey||Tomato Juice||Pasta||Wheat Toast|
|Blueberries||Fuit Juice||Pear Juice||Soy Protien Shake|
|Pickle Juice||Red Gensing Tea||Dates|
In summary: apparently just eat. If it’s in your fridge, it will probably make you feel better… For the record, my personal cure is 1 bottle of water right when I wake up, 1 bottle of Chocolate Milk, and 1 bottle of apple juice. By the time I made it to work I had finished all 3 and felt a million times better.