Maybe you drank responsibly. Maybe you volunteered to be a designated driver. Maybe you never drink.
Then again, maybe you drank.
If New Year’s Day has dawned too bright, too loud and too nauseating, have no fear: What follows is a surefire cure for hangovers.
There is no magic cure. In fact, science knows remarkably little about being hung over.
One problem is the number of variables. People drink when they’re happy as well as sad, when they’re bored as well as nervous.
The effects of overimbibing differ depending on whether you’re a man or a woman, what you drank, the mixer in a cocktail, what you ate, how much sleep you got, your metabolism, maybe even your bank balance. (Those Manhattans don’t pay for themselves.)
This info is by way of the research journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, from the Medical Council on Alcohol. Granted, alcohol probably isn’t a word you want to read at the moment. But maybe you should have thought about that 12 hours ago.
Let’s talk hangovers.
Men have visited the moon. Why don’t we know more about hangovers?
Studying hangovers, especially how to cure them, presents a special challenge. In order to study remedies, scientists first need to get people really drunk, which is problematic in a “first, do no harm” kind of way. But intoxication apparently is “impossible to mimic by a placebo condition,” studies say.
In other words, participants know the difference between genuine gin and a fake-tini. So cures are tough to test.
Besides, you recover within the day. Let science concentrate on cancer.
So forget science. Do home cures work?
Short answer: Foods that provide potassium, sodium, vitamin C, electrolytes, amino acids or fructose can have positive effects.
Some swear that eating a green pepper does the job, while many strategies involve foods full of hot peppers.
Then there’s asparagus. Korean researchers writing in the Journal of Food Science say that asparagus boosts levels of key enzymes that break down alcohol after heavy drinking. Because eating asparagus may not appeal while hung over (ya think?), eating it before drinking also may help fend off the worst symptoms.
Potassium-rich bananas are a common remedy, but mostly for easing body aches.
Magazines weigh in
Men’s Fitness magazine recommends, with some chagrin, drinking an unhealthy soda such as Sprite, noting that sugary beverages speed up the natural process of turning acetaldehyde (a chemical byproduct of alcohol) into acetate, which helps you feel better.
Men’s Health celebrates the faucet, urging drinking two or three big glasses of water before passing out. Pro tip: Order a glass of water with every beer to counteract the dehydrating effects of booze. Also, limit your drinks to about one an hour.
Women’s Health reminds us that ladies’ night is a cruel trick. Men have more water in their bodies, which helps dilute alcohol. So drink-for-drink, women end up more hung over. The mag’s remedy calls for beverages high in electrolytes. Stock up in health food stores or online.
Coconuts, pickles and the Ritz
Coconut water, the trendy bev on the block, is high in electrolytes. But advocates such as The Health Beat say to look in grocers’ refrigerated sections for coconut water without added sugar or flavors, or “buy a young coconut, take a hammer to the top, and enjoy it fresh and raw.” Right.
Pickle juice, on the other hand, is something you might have in the fridge. Some swear by drinking a quarter-cup of pickle juice before bed or first thing in the morning. Something about salt and vinegar is restorative.
Then there’s the concoction that the Ritz-Carlton served tipsy patrons in the 1930s: a cocktail of Coca-Cola and milk. Bartenders also recommended a nap.
This being Minnesota, WWMD?
Or, what would Mayo do? That’s Rochester’s Mayo Clinic, of course, where thousands of doctors, scientists and researchers do world-class work. They prescribe … time.
And water. And bland foods, such as toast and crackers, or bouillon soup. Maybe some aspirin. But mostly, go back to bed. From the website: “If you sleep long enough, your hangover may be gone when you awaken.”
Unwritten, but implied: Maybe you should have thought about that 12 hours ago.
Where does the word “hangover” come from anyway?
Word-detective.com reports that “hangover” is an American word used in the general sense of a thing remaining or left over; “a remainder or survival.” The use of “hangover” to mean “aftermath of excess alcohol” first appeared in 1904.
Bonus ‘Star Trek’ reference
Fans of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” know that the bar in Ten Forward is stocked with synthehol, or synthetic alcohol. It’s supposed to taste and smell the same as real booze, but doesn’t make you drunk, or hung over. “Star Trek” lore says that Gene Roddenberry decided that synthehol was invented by the Ferengi. So, rip-off?
Actually, a British man, David Nutt, has patents toward creating what he calls “alcosynth,” according to media accounts. Product testing continues, but he predicts that within 10 or 20 years, alcohol will be a thing of the past, or only for special occasions, such as the release of a new “Star Trek” movie.
A rhyme in the nick of time
Expect to be mixing alcohols? Keep these rhymes in mind.
“Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.”
“Beer to whiskey, always risky. Whiskey to beer, never fear.”
“The hop and the vine should never entwine.”
The idea is that starting with a few stiff drinks, then easing back to beers, may mean that you’ll end up drinking less alcohol, having gotten buzzed with the liquor. Also, that beer and wine don’t mingle well.
The fact is, it’s less about the order in which you drink than the amount you drink.
Keep it to one drink an hour.
Cures that are skin deep
Services offering IV drips of vitamins and antioxidants have sprung up around the country, including Hydrate IV Therapy in Minneapolis, which opened in 2015. Its Hangover Be Gone treatment, for $159, is touted as helping “alleviate the cumulative effects of dehydration.” It also has IVs for beauty aid, athletic performance and cold and flu treatment (hydrateivtherapy.com).
Or you could order the Bytox Hangover Patch, like a nicotine patch, said to reduce the severity of hangovers. They come in packs of five, and also, um, 50.
What it boils down to
“A hangover is just your body reminding you that you’re an idiot.” That’s a quote. From Anonymous.
Kim Ode • 612-673-7185