Need a Cure Hangover?
Part of being young is being stupid, and anyone who tells you that he or she has never gotten drunk is either lying, boring, a Mormon, or some combination thereof. But just because so many people get drunk doesn’t make it OK. A recent survey found that 3 out of every 5 college students have engaged in binge drinking. Binge drinking completely thrashes your liver and kidneys, not to mention puts you at risk of death via alcohol overdose. But you don’t need us lecturing at you… you know that massive drinking is bad. How do you know? Because your mother tells you – no, not Mother Goose… Mother Nature.
A nasty hangover is Mother Nature’s way of telling you, “Fool, I thought I told you not to drink so much. Now you gonna pay.” (Don’t ask us why Mother Nature sounds like Mr. T.) Hangovers can completely incapacitate you, giving you an upset stomach, a huge headache, a gross-tasting mouth, and a guilty conscience. So what we’ve constructed for you are some tips for easing the pain and curing that hangover. We only expect you to use this article once. If you find that you need our help to cure your hangovers every weekend (no matter how happy all those page views will make us), we insist that you contact Alcoholics Anonymous right away. People (especially those in their 20s) usually revel in binge drinking, but it really can be life-threatening.
They don’t call it intoxication for nothing. Happy juice is poisonous. Put enough of it into your body and you die. What concerns us here, however, is not so much alcohol itself (which we’ll take as a given) but the by-products of alcohol, and especially one particularly nasty chemical critter by the name of acetaldehyde. It’s got a lot more of the bad kind of kapow, and the latest research suggests that it may be responsible for the worst of your hangover.
After you ingest alcohol, your body breaks it down into (among other things) acetaldehyde, before converting it into less harmful substances. The acetaldehyde messes with your brain at the same time as a host of depleted minerals are short-circuiting your nervous system, and that’s in addition to low blood sugar and the classic headache-and-dry-mouth symptoms caused by dehydration. The result: nausea, twitchy nerves, unpleasantness, pessimism, terrible brain pain, and a temporary suspension of the laws of gravity.
The severity of a hangover varies according to . . .
- The amount you’ve guzzled in a given period of time
- Your own innate enzymatic capacity to deal with the poisons
- Your age
Translation: the more you drink in a short amount of time, the more you’ll feel the alcohol. One’s weight is also a factor (the less you weigh, the more you’ll feel it), as is a genetic predisposition. Finally, the older you get, the more you’ll feel the alcohol the next morning.
Preparing for the Night Out
So now that you know exactly how alcohol can affect your little ol’ body and what makes you likely to feel the aftereffects, it is time to figure out how to prevent and cure a hangover. By way of precaution, we recommend you prepare yourself even before you step out the door, by following these tips:
- Don’t go out on an empty stomach. Granted, it’s completely unrealistic to ask you to pause and enjoy a healthy meal full of starches and stocked with essential minerals when you’re getting ready to have a night on the town. But you should consider taking a preventative dose of the hangover cure you’ll find at the end of this article. Also, launch your night at the pub with a double order of curly fries. The moderating effect this will have on the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream in the short term may be more important than the clogged arteries in the long term. The reason that food is so important is because it’ll sop up the alcohol so that it doesn’t all go directly into the bloodstream.
- Hydrate your body. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sure, you’ll probably still wake up at 4 a.m. with hairbrush tongue and a desperate compulsion to hang your head under the faucet, but every glass of juice or water you force yourself to swallow now is worth two in the morning. Everyone knows that alcohol acts as a diuretic. In case those long hours at the urinal didn’t tip you off, more is going out than coming in. You need to replace that liquid.
- Pre-prepare an Almighty Hangover Emergency Cure. Unless you’re certain you’ll be capable of operating a blender in the morning, you might want to be kind to your future (potentially hungover) self and prepare one of these miraculous little cures. You’ll thank your past self the next morning, when you’re in a cold sweat, crawling slowly toward the fridge.
So the lowdown is: eat, drink (water), and you’ll be merry in the morning.
Knowing What to Do While You’re Drinking
While you’re out
OK, so you’ve loaded up on food and water. Now you can start your drinking. But while you’re deciding whether you’d like a fuzzy navel or a Shirley Temple, there are a few things you can do while you’re drinking to lessen the effects of the alcohol:
- Choose your booze with care. There are poisons besides alcohol itself that contribute to a brutal hangover. Nasty chemicals called congeners occur naturally in all fermented drinks. The general rule is that darker drinks, such as red wine, bourbon, scotch, and brandy have more congeners than lighter drinks like white wine, vodka, and gin. But you should also keep in mind that whatever your drink’s color, the cheaper it is, the more poison will be in it. So avoid the cheap sauce. One further note: red wine contains an extra hangover-inducing poison all of its own called tyramine. So be especially careful with cheap red wine.
- Alternate alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic beverages. This simple measure will help keep you hydrated. A fruit juice (which is particularly good at re-hydrating the body) is an especially good choice. If you’re afraid that it’ll make you look like a loser to be without an alcoholic drink, then lie and tell your friends it’s a screwdriver. They’ll probably be too drunk to notice that it’s not.
- Consume less than one drink per hour. Your liver breaks down alcohol at the rate of about a beer an hour, so spreading out the drinking over the course of an evening will lessen the likelihood of a hangover.
When You Get Home
Okay, you’ve had your fun, and staggered home-maybe threw up in the cab and forgot to leave a tip. Nothing to do now but attempt to remove any over-clothing or groupies that may have adhered to you and pass out within ten feet of the bed. Suddenly, your thoughts veer round like an oil tanker to the sobering realization that you’ve wrecked your poor body, and will surely pay for it in the morning. What can you do?
- Have a pee. That’ll save you at least one nocturnal trip to the bathroom.
- Drain the contents of a very large, very full glass of water. Then refill, and drink some more. This will be surprisingly unpleasant, but must be done. If you prefer, drink some orange juice or Gatorade. The thing is, you need electrolytes, which will keep you hydrated.
- Finally, remember that you shouldn’t take analgesics (that is, headache medicine) of any kind at this stage. Some folks pop pills as a preventative, even though the inevitable headache hasn’t yet arrived. This isn’t a good idea. Aspirin upsets the stomach and aggravates the symptoms of a hangover. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), when mixed with the alcohol still in your bloodstream, might cause your liver to explode (best to avoid). If you want to take a pill, a multivitamin might help by replenishing some of the B vitamins you’ve pissed away during the course of the evening. Besides that, just drink lots of water, and rest easy in the knowledge that you have already pre-prepared one of our patented Almighty Hangover Emergency Cures and that it will be waiting for you in the morning.
IMPORTANT NOTE: See a doctor IMMEDIATELY if you are experiencing tremors, stomach pain, or if you see blood in your vomit. These are indications that you have tippled way too much, and must get professional medical attention, (e.g., a stomach-pump at the local emergency room). Better safe than sorry.
Surviving the Morning After
You’re alive. Give yourself a pat on the back. Sure, someone is trying to drive an iron spike into the back of your skull with a huge mallet, and what used to be mere colors and sounds are now interesting new species of pain, but you’re still alive. You didn’t choke on your own vomit. Small steps. Here’s how to survive the rest of the morning:
1. Go back to bed. Is it a workday? Call in sick, call in sick, call in sick. You really are sick. Just ask your doctor. There are two ways of dealing with this fact:
Insane: “I was bad, so I deserve to feel like crap right now, and the only responsible thing to do is to drag my sorry carcass into work.”
Sane: “Hello, _____ ? (insert boss’s or even better, boss’s secretary’s name) Yeah, hi, it’s ____. (insert your name) Listen, I think I might vomit, so I’m going to stay in bed for a while. Yeah, thanks. Bye.”
Seriously, lie and call in that you have the stomach flu. No one will ask you about the details, and you’ll sound awful anyway. Your body needs rest as it struggles to repair itself.
2. No more alcohol. The health-care pros generally believe that if, after a night of karaoke and greenish cocktails, you wake up all fuzzy-tongued and nauseous and that bottle of six-year-old crème de menthe on the night stand still looks good to you, you’ve got a problem. More booze the day after is just gonna make things worse.
3. Beware of coffee. Most of us blindly stretch out a shaky hand for the coffee cure-all based on the hypothesis that it usually wakes you up in the morning, so a cup of joe could do no harm. Those in the know, however, largely advise you to stay away from caffeinated beverages, since they are diuretic, and will aggravate dehydration. Opposing the kill-joys are those who tout coffee’s headache-fighting power, and those who feel that denying a caffeine-addict his cup of Juan Valdez in times of greatest need constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The decision is yours, but it’s probably better just to take an aspirin instead.
Drink This: Our Ultimate Hangover Cure
Here it is: the fruit of all our painstaking research, The Ultimate Hangover Emergency Cure. While the ingredients in this kit are based on hard science and not personal mythology, it must be said that there really is no cure for a hangover in the same sense that penicillin is a cure for an infection. There are several things, however, that you can put into your body to ease the pain and assist rapid recovery, including a little-known substance called cysteine. Cysteine directly counteracts the poisonous effects of acetaldehyde. The following arsenal-in-a-milkshake is so loaded with the anti-toxic munitions your body needs, that after it makes short work of your hangover, it might just clear out your nasal passages, shrink your hemorrhoids, and leap out of your body and write your History term paper. Behold the official champagnesabering.com Ultimate Hangover Emergency Cure (patent pending):
- Take 2 aspirins
- Take 200mg cysteine (available at specialty food stores)
- Take 600mg vitamin C
- Take 1 tablet vitamin B-complex
- Mix the following ingredients together in a blender:
• 1 banana
• 1 small can V-8
• 6 large strawberries
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1 cup orange juice
• 1-2 cups milk (or soy milk), to desired consistency
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• dash of nutmeg
- Drink it all up.
If necessary, follow up with a dose of Maalox, lots of Gatorade, and bouillon soup for dinner. These ingredients will rehydrate your body, replace essential vitamins and minerals, and help rid your body of some of the toxic byproducts of metabolized alcohol.
For a headache that drugs don’t seem to touch, try an icepack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel, 20 minutes on your head, 10 minutes off. There’ve been lots of hangover remedies over the centuries, from the Assyrian crushed swallows’ beaks with myrrh to Rabbit Dropping Tea (though we think that it tastes a little raisin-y). Friends of ours have suggested everything from club soda to the classic Bull’s Eye (OJ and a raw egg) to pickle brine straight from the pickle jar. But if you’re looking for something substantial that actually prevents vomiting, invest in the necessary pills and keep your blender handy; the Ultimate Hangover Emergency Cure, judiciously combined with the wise drinking practices detailed above, is for you.