“I will never drink again” is the common reaction the morning after the drinking binge. Pounding headache, upset stomach, shaky hands, general feeling like the house fell on you, or the state we generally call ‘hangover’, is familiar to most people who tend to overindulge in alcoholic drinks. As the holiday season is approaching, it is the time to review this common payment for having too much fun, and popular cures for the ‘morning’ after'”misery.
What exactly is a hangover ?
Considering that we have been suffering from hangover since the beginning of civilization (when we discovered that overripe fruit makes us happy and stupid), it is amazing that the scientists still do not know for sure what is causing it, and even less how to cure it. In fact, there is a very little research on this common problem. According to the paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, there were only 108 studies of hangover since 1965.
According to one of rare scientific papers produced on the causes and potential cures for hangover, alcohol affects our urine production, our digestive tract, concentration of sugar in the blood, biological rhythm and sleep pattern. It is also postulated that one of the main possible reasons for the hangover is withdrawal from alcohol and alcohol metabolism.
Drs Swift and Davidson, who wrote the paper, believe that hangover is most likely the result of a combination of its effects on our system and the withdrawal symptoms.
Hair of the dog, or hairless dog?
It is amazing, but not surprising, that ‘hair of the dog’ persisted as the most popular hangover remedy. Having another drink the morning after already heavy bout of drinking offers temporary relief of symptoms, probably because it helps with the withdrawal symptoms. But, it actually just adds to already existing toxic soup in our body. The worst thing you can do is add more alcohol.
If you insist on the ‘hair of the dog‘, make sure you use a lot of fresh juice with your ‘hair’. Bloody Mary is popular, for its tangy tomato juice, and so is the Screwdriver, with fresh orange juice. But, if you skip the ‘hair’ (alcohol), you will find that fresh juice is as effective if not more, than its ‘hairy’ version. The key is in hydration.
Food for hangover
Greasy breakfast is another well-known hangover cure and many habitual drinkers swear by it, but most people cannot even think of a big breakfast after spending the night hanging over the toilet bowl. As is always recommended when you abuse your stomach, treat it gently after the night of heavy drinking: a piece of toast and a cup of tea, milk, juice, energy drink or just plain water will do you a world of good.
Chicken noodle soup works for just about anything and will make your stomach soothed and will replenish your energy.
Salmon is rich in vitamin B, which is one of rare hangover remedies confirmed by the scientists. Try it roasted, with mashed potatoes, or in a sandwich, with whole grain bread. Even canned version works.
As with so many health issues, preventing a problem is so much easier than curing it. If you are inundated with invitations to holiday parties, and you know that avoiding alcohol will be impossible, even if you are inclined to, prepare your poor system for the attack:
- have a big, rich meal before going out;
- stick to one kind of alcohol, mixing can kill you;
- snack between drinks;
- add a lot of ice to your drinks to dilute them and to rehydrate;
- Of course, switching to non-alcoholic beverages before you get really drunk is the best way to avoid hangover. One way to do that is to bring your photo from the last time you were hangover, the last time you promised to yourself: I will never drink again.