Hangovers have plagued humanity for thousands of years. Not only are they extremely painful, but they can be wildly unhealthy. Your body is, after all, dehydrated and purged of essential nutrients. The best cure for a hangover is to never imbibe alcohol in the first place, but for those of us who simply do not have that luxury (or refuse to have it), there are some solutions and precautions of varying efficacy and bizarreness.
What is a hangover
A hangover is, by definition, the sum of all of the outstandingly painful feelings and effects of ingesting alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, a hangover can be caused by as little as one drink. The most common symptoms described by hangover victims include nausea, headache, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, vomiting, increased heart rate, unquenchable thirst, diarrhea, dysphoria, and lethargy (though the causality of this one is tricky).
Additionally, there are often psychological effects cited such as depression and anxiety. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body, and this is generally purported to be the primary cause of most hangover symptoms. As such, many “cures” attempt to rehydrate the body as fast as possible.
Unproven or disproven methods
While according to official medicine, there is no surefire way to cure a hangover, it seems every individual swears by their own methods. Of these, many have been tested by qualified researchers. Amongst these, the vast majority have been outright disproven.
The Ancient Romans reportedly ate raw Owl’s eggs. Hemingway mixed tomato juice with beer. By some accounts, even Coca-Cola was invented as a hangover remedy. Science has thus far shown no backing for any of these theories. Some cultures ate a whole globe artichoke at the immediate onset of the hangover. Scientific studies have disproven this particular method quite succinctly.
Potentially beneficial methods
One suggestion that has gained traction in both the medical community and in recreational drinking circles goes as follows: for every alcoholic drink consumed, imbibe a glass of water. Afterwards, before going to sleep for the night, hydrate additionally. This seeks to prevent dehydration and the loss of valuable nutrients/electrolytes.
Another, morning-after remedy, cites the use of Cannabis for its ability to cure nausea and facilitate hunger, thus replenishing complex carbohydrates.
Pedialyte, a drink given to infants after they exhibit diarrhea like symptoms, contains a heavy dose of electrolytes (dwarfing the electrolyte content of, say, Gatorade) that can rapidly replenish your body’s extremely diminished supply. Scientific research done on its efficacy has provided encouraging results.
The “hair of the dog” theory treats the hangover as a form of withdrawal and satiates it by ingesting additional alcohol. While this certainly treats the symptoms, and has even been embraced by some hospital providers (for the short term), it only serves to postpone the inevitable and perhaps worsen the outcome.
Greasy foods, particularly bacon and eggs (which contain cysteine), can help rehydrate the body and restore lost moisture.
Oxygen therapy (a mixture of 80 percent oxygen to 20 percent nitrogen) has been cited as aiding the body’s process of breaking down toxins, thus helping a hangover.