If there was one thing I wish science could to do for me, it would be to cure the common hangover.
You know the feeling; your head is throbbing, your stomach feels like there’s a demon child in there trying to escape, you’re hissing at bright lights like a stray cat and your throat’s dryer than the Sahara. You spend the day laying sickly in bed, watching an entire season of some terrible TV show and muttering “I’m never drinking again” to yourself over and over again.
But the problem is that you never keep that promise. The next Saturday always rolls around and before you know it you’re kneeling on someone’s back porch while three beers are poured down a mouldy funnel and into your mouth. And so the cycle continues.
Alcohol has been around for about ever, and so has the need for a hangover cure. Science has almost rid the world of nasties like polio and scurvy, surely someone must have figured out how to get rid of the humble hangover by now right?
First up, what does science tell us NOT to do?
Crack open another beer bro. Contrary to popular belief, having more alcohol won’t stop you from getting a hangover. You start feeling the effects of a hangover when the alcohol levels in your blood hit zero, so having another beer won’t prevent your hangover, it’ll just make it happen later.
Just have a coffee mate, you’ll be right. The black wonder juice we call coffee is often used to sober up the sloppy and wake up the woeful in the morning. Sadly though, this tactic is also in vain. One of the main reasons you feel so terrible when you’re hungover is because you’re dehydrated. Coffee acts as a diuretic, which means it makes you do wees and therefore even more dehydrated. Not good.
Brooo lets get some K-Fry. The 11am fast food run is a very common activity for groups of the hungover variety. Bundles of greasy goodies will not do wonders for your queasy stomach though, they’ll probably just make you feel worse, especially if you’re a morning spewer. Vomiting and a sore tummy are common hangover symptoms that you get because the alcohol has messed with your gastrointestinal tract. Greasy fast foods also irritate your stomach and gut, which means they are more likely to make you feel sicker than less hungover.
Does science offer us any hope?
There actually hasn’t been a whole heap of conclusive research on the subject, but there is hope.
Vitamins It has been found in a few studies such as this one, that vitamin intake can help reduce the pain of your hangover. This basically means that eating something other than 12 chicken nuggets from McDonalds will help. I would suggest a breakfast (or lets be honest, lunch) of baked beans and eggs on grainy toast with a glass of juice. The baked beans and toast are high in lots of vitamins like iron, magnesium and vitamin B6, while the eggs contain cysteine, which helps break down acetaldehyde, and the juice had lots of vitamin C as well as sugar to give you some energy and up your blood sugar levels.
Drink clear alcohol Other studies such as this one have also found that the type of alcohol you drink can affect how you feel in the morning. Darker coloured alcohols such as brandy and whiskey contain things called cogeners which are chemicals that affect the taste and smell of your moonshine. They are also somthing that your body appears to not like very much. In this study, people who were given bourbon (brown and high in cogeners) felt a considerable amount worse than those given vodka (clear and low in cogeners). This means that you might be able to dodge some of the morning sadness if you switch to a clearer beverage of choice.
Sleep and water While these remedies might help you out a little, the bottom line is that scientists have yet to discover the miracle cure for your hangover. All they can really say for sure is that there are three things that will help you get through your sullen Sunday: water, sleep and time.
Or less alcohol… But where’s the fun in that!