Bad news for New Year's Eve revelers who toast with a few too many: There's no conclusive scientific proof that anything cures a hangover...
Bad news for New Year’s Eve revelers who toast with a few too many: There’s no conclusive scientific proof that anything cures a hangover.
But there are home-tested remedies that partiers swear by — a greasy breakfast, raw eggs, tripe soup, a gallon of sports drink, a brisk run. Some even make sense, as fluids and exercise help rehydrate and push blood more quickly through the body.
While “hangover” refers literally to something that remains from an earlier time, its medical term, “veisalgia,” says it all. The word mashes the Norwegian “kveis,” meaning “uneasiness following debauchery” and the Greek “algia,” for “pain.”
Then things become less certain.
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“There are so many different biochemical changes that occur after drinking alcohol that no one’s entirely positive which one is the key one that causes people to feel [a] hangover,” said Dr. Stefan Kertesz, assistant professor of preventive and general internal medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Besides its dehydrating power, alcohol can irritate the stomach and intestines, causing nausea and vomiting. It can also lower blood sugar, depriving the brain of energy and leading to fatigue.
The punishment usually kicks in several hours after drinking stops, when blood-alcohol concentration falls. Research suggests that hangover symptoms and severity may depend on a person’s weight, the duration of the binge and the amount and type of alcohol consumed, among other factors.
What to do when you overindulge?
“There’s not really any scientifically documented remedy, but there are some folk remedies that may work, exercise being one in particular,” said Barbara Mark, a clinical nutrition instructor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
The idea: Get moving to boost blood flow.
“When you have less fluid in the body, your blood kind of gets sluggish … it’s a little bit thicker,” Mark said. “So, you’re not getting oxygen and nutrients to your body.”
Exercise is a tough sell when you’re in a hangover hole. It might be easier to drink water before, during and after imbibing alcohol, to replenish liquids. Yet in the midst of celebrating, that isn’t always a priority.
“Once the party gets started, it’s not normally within my mental capacity to think about the consequences of the next day,” said Travis Gruber, 26, of Sacramento, Calif. If he remembers before going to bed, he said, he’ll take aspirin and drink a ton of water.
Most remedies are left for after the festivities.
“I think that sleep is probably the best one,” said Lennon Duggan, 22, a bartender at the Washington, D.C., landmark bar and restaurant Madam’s Organ. “I think a lot of Gatorade, seltzer or Orangina, something like that. The greasy food helps. Bloody Mary or a mimosa, depending, but sometimes you’re not really ready to get back in there.”
Nor should you be, physicians advise. “Resist any temptation to treat your hangover with more alcohol,” says no less a source than the Mayo Clinic’s Web site.
“It’ll only make you feel worse.”
Lane Allison, 36, of Overland Park, Kan., developed his antidote in college: raw eggs, Fruit Punch Gatorade and ice, blended: “You get the protein from the egg. You get rehydrated with the Gatorade. The ice makes it slushy.”
If raw egg inspires the woozies, how about a steamy, spicy bowl of a cow’s stomach lining? Menudo, a Mexican tripe soup, is legendary for its purported ability to kill hangovers.
Vietnamese cuisine also offers a hangover-battling soup: pho, a broth-noodle combination.
“The bowls are fairly large, so the broth alone gives you a lot … to help rehydrate you, along with salt to perhaps help you retain some of that water,” said Sione Kinahoi Phillips, 30, of Edmonds.
Phillips adds hot sauce to make him feel like he’s “sweating out the hangover.”