Ten Cures for the Common Hangover

You did it again, didn’t you? You said you weren’t going to overindulge, that you were going to take care of yourself this year, that you’d do your best to prevent the morning-after horrors. Ha! Better luck next time. And, just to ensure that little bit of “luck,” here are ten ways to cure a hangover – more scientific than a tarot reading, more heartfelt than a greeting card.

1. Drink Water-Dehydration is key in understanding hangovers. While you enjoy that tasty beverage, your liver, stomach and kidneys are working hard to eradicate what it feels is poison. To clean out toxins related to ethanol, your liver needs water in order to properly process them. If you don’t drink water, your body is forced to rely on H20 resources primarily in your blood and brain. Less water upstairs equals a pounding headache. (A good trick is to order a glass of water with every shot or beer.) Also remember: Don’t drink coffee. Like alcoholic drinks, coffee is a diuretic and will merely cause you to lose water quicker.

2. Food-Though the jury’s still out on the scientific basis for this one, folk wisdom says food (especially fatty stuff; great news for carnivores) will coat your stomach and exercise it a little before the ethanol onslaught. Not for those with sensitive stomachs, though.

3. Six midol-This one comes from my friend Jeremy, who swears this one’s foolproof. Midol retains water efficiently, so it would seem to be scientifically sound. Men who buy it at Walgreens will no doubt get an amusing story to recant several times at the pub while imbibing, too.

4. Know your drinks-There will be no advice here not to mix, as scientific basis for this is still shaky. Consider congeners, however. Congeners are toxic chemicals that appear in alcohol during the fermentation process. The good news is that they make your liquor tasty and colorful; the bad is that they are public enemy No. 1 for those who fear hangover headaches. Generally, the lighter in color the alcohol, the fewer congeners it contains. Low on the scale are vodka and gin. Higher are brandy, rum and scotch; bourbon is a serious baddy, with 30 times more congeners than vodka. Red wine is more loaded with congeners than white.

5. Don’t smoke-The liver is key in toxin eradication, remember? Well, check this out: nicotine is so deadly to your body that, once it hits your system, your liver immediately begins the filtering process to the exclusion of all other substances. Alcoholic toxins sit in your body longer therefore and thus you become more poisoned. Another plus in avoiding tobacco while drinking is that your tolerance goes up. Really.

6. The hot water/cold water treatment-So it’s the Morning After and you’re thumped. Here’s an easy remedy from Douglas Adams’ completely unrelated sci-fi romp So Long and Thanks For All the Fish. Get in the shower and stand under water as cold as you can stand it. Then repeat with water as hot as you can handle. Cold water constricts enlarged blood vessels resulting from drinking and the hot … well, it feels like your blood is flowing again.

7. Exercise-If you can do it, do it. Sweat’ll help rid some of those poisons and those thoughts of “Oh, I’m gonna die in bed” will soon be replaced by “Wow, my body survived the punishment.” Even just a few breaths of that remarkable elixir of fresh air sometimes helps.

8. Vitamins-C, of course, is highly recommended for any number of ills and green chile packs a bunch of it. (It might help you sweat a little, too; see reason No. 6 above.) B-complex vitamins are also excellent before and after boozing. Thiamine (vitamin B1) is key, as it is necessary in helping break down alcohol. Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but beer is actually rich in thiamine.

9. Gatorade-The world’s greatest rehydrator, this stuff is magic the Morning After. As a bonus, this jock quaff loads you up with electrolytes which alcohol puts all out of wack.

10. Hair of the dog-There is absolutely no proof that this works, but it certainly feels good. Though common wisdom says drink whatever got you plowed, a Bloody Mary seems to be the favorite. After all, it’s got vitamin C …

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