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Just in Time for the Holidays: Hangover Help from Around the World!
Posted Dec 18,2008

Perhaps you hit the eggnog a little too hard at the party last night. Or maybe champagne did you in, and now you're cursing that "friend" who kept filling your glass.

No matter how it happened, though, you now have a hangover and will do just about anything to get rid of it. Doctors advise drinking copious amounts of water and taking vitamins and aspirin. Some people swear by grease--burgers and fried eggs are popular antidotes in America. Others, like the Japanese, follow a more virtuous regimen of fruits and green tea. In this month's magazine and on our website, we take a look at some international suggestions for how to cope with the effects of one too many.

Hangovers happen to anyone who drinks too much alcohol, but some people fare worse than others. It all depends on what you drank--some say clear booze is less toxic--how much you drank, what size you are, and possibly even your temperament (if you've had a particularly difficult time of it lately, or you're prone to anger or anxiety, you may suffer more severely than others).

One of the biggest contributors to the wretched hangover is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you go to the bathroom frequently, and every time you go, you lose a little more water. While you're having fun quaffing drinks, your body is quickly becoming dehydrated and will punish you for it the next day. Pounding headaches, nausea, and dizziness are just a few of the delightful ways a hangover can manifest itself, so consider this a warning and watch how much you swill at those holiday soirees.

Now, that said, even the most careful among us gets carried away sometimes. And it seems everyone has a secret remedy. One of my friends swears by bananas and ice cold Coke. Another says a chocolate milkshake works wonders. Who else wants to weigh in? What do I take if I'm hung over in Paris? Or Puerto Rico? Let's hear it! And oh, cheers. But clink the glasses together softly, please -- my head is killing me.

-Catherine Barker

Posted by Catherine Barker | Comments (10)
Filed Under: Culture, Food and Drink

Comments

Rebecca Reeder
Dec 18, 2008 4PM #

This is one of the more entertaining pieces, and it's certainly interesting to see what a world-wide issue this is. Ah, people have more in common with each other than they previously realized.

EBD
Dec 18, 2008 4PM #

Cath, I ALWAYS forget to match my luscious tanq and tonics with a glass of water. It has proved to be disastrous on more than one occasion. Actually, numerous occasions. When I have consumed water throughout the night it has helped lessen the hangover tremendously. Another remedy: Gatorade and chicken mcnuggets. Just a 6 piece.

OurLocalHero
Dec 18, 2008 4PM #

I have found the milkshake treatment - or any such cure containing cold, liquidy dairy products - is a disaster waiting to happen. For me, drinking a milkshake after a night of enthusiastic boozing practically guarantees some woozy, distressed glances in the direction of the bathroom.

Once upon a time, my brother and I came up with a 12-step hangover recovery program that included sleep, cold water, iced coffee, no sudden movements, sleep, dimmed lights, quiet, a light snack around lunchtime - maybe some soup, pain killers of various stripe, sleep, a very, very, very long shower, rest, etc. Not necessarily in that particular order. Works pretty well, but if your hangover is cruel and spiteful enough, it will just take a good, booze-free 24 hours to get your appetite back and be able to tolerate the sun again.

Unfortunately, a ferocious hangover has occasionally been known to threaten to prevent or delay a wedding, baptism, fishing trip, or one of life's other sublime moments. When this happens, turn to the last resort - elk urine. I'm kidding, the last resort is actually the powdered gall bladder of a North American black bear. Amazingly strong stuff. I am kidding - do not accept or purchase any amount of the powdered gall bladder of a North American black bear. No, sometimes only one thing will work: lying in bed with the shades drawn, fitfully sleeping it off while simultaneously hoping that you didn't do anything TOO stupid the night before and promising anyone who will listen that you will NEVER - EVER - do that again.


Which brings me to the opposite of the hangover cure - stoicism. One should occasionally examine one's conscience and take no cure as a penance and reminder of one's moral fragility. While a massive hangover is probably not the time to try this sort of self-chastisement, anyone who has imbibed a few ill-advised rounds of 4:00 a.m. shots knows what it means to examine one's post-bender judgment and conscience.

But hey, tonight's New Year's Eve and I'm in NYC. Moral fragility? What's that? Let's let tomorrow deal with tomorrow's problems, you know? And anyway, my elk urine came in the mail today. Party!!

Scott
Dec 18, 2008 4PM #

Being a big fan of your articles, I felt it only necessary that I post my words of praise for such a useful guide that will surely be (or already have been) put to good use during this festive time of year…especially while visiting with our favorite drinking companion (aka SBJ). Great article and keep these informative and entertaining writeups coming!

Nick
Dec 18, 2008 4PM #

Well, let's get this blog going! As we all realize, the best hangover remedy is not to drink to excess but since drinking increases bravado and alters the ability to reason and think clearly; I think that drinking water while drinking to hydrate your body would certainly help, as Alcohol through its sugars dehydrate and cause the effects of hangovers.

One interesting approach to lessening the suffering is with the Nopal that Marco above mentions. There is convincing evidence that Nopal's high content of Mucilage cell's help the body stay hydrated and therefore allowing minimal effects of a heavy drinking binge.

I am quite surprised that the article did not mention Nopal's recent studies in that regard. For more info I found a good explanation at on this web page www.nopalexport.com/Health%20Benefits.htm or you can always just search nopal & hangovers and look for more in depth studies on the subject.

As I gave up drinking years ago mainly because I had a silly belief that I was immune to hangovers but couldn't get rid of my trembling hands the day after I certainly recommend keeping your body hydrated and also eat a good meal prior to and snack on high fiber food during the binges ...cheers !!

marco aurilio
Dec 18, 2008 4PM #

Thanks for the rounded view. Hangover cures come in two paradigms: prophylactic and acute treatment. Most alcohol consumers don't begin drinking with the intention to reach the level at which a hangover occurs. Usually trial and error helps us all learn that limit from wretchedly powerful experience. I totally agree with the quality and blending of alcohols being a big factor in hangover outcomes.. Recently however on a well sourced suggestion i used dehydrated Nopal cactus powder (opuntia ficus-indica) for both hangover prevention and treatment. Wow ...amazing....everyone to whom i have passed on this remedy, and has actually tried it was equally impressed. There is even some science behind it. 1-2 teaspoons in water or juice does the trick, and works best when taken before drinking begins. I have found it to also be effective, if i can remember just before bed and thankfully the morning after. I can't imagine it doing much when you so hung-over that nothing stays down, which is best served with an IV, per my paramedic friend's experience. The best deal on Good quality dehydrated Nopal is at www.nopalamerica.com.. They ship PRIORITY for free.

JD
Dec 18, 2008 4PM #

Catherine,

Thanks for putting together such an expansive guide...I'll be sure to stock up on a few items and test them out next time I decide to tie one on. Those Negronis can come on strong sometimes! As for my cure, back when I worked in restaurants I wasn't able to keep anything down so I'd drink pure Coca-Cola syrup. A small amount was enough to calm my stomach and give me energy to get through the day.

JD

AD
Dec 18, 2008 4PM #

I loved this guide although I think I'm going to stay away from the tripe, and as someone that can suffer from the occasional hangover it will be good to have some creative options... Keep these coming.....

Guy
Dec 18, 2008 4PM #

Dear Catherine,

Thanks for the story on hangovers and how to deal with them! We can all learn a lot from other cultures about how to deal with our "booze rebound!" My German intern here is very well versed in how one deals with the morning after, but even he was pleasantly intrigued/surprised by the wonderful methods in Romania and China ! I think all of us drunks swear by one method - drinking more (got to love the Dutch!) Not a bad advice,I suppose, particularly since universal health care is on the horizon and liver transplants will become affordable!

Keep up the good work!

G

Mr. Red
Dec 18, 2008 4PM #

Considering this is my area of expertise, I would like to add that I am a firm believer in inexpensive Chinese food - the cheaper the better - and ice cold Pepsi. Obviously, this is on top of the standard Ibuprofen tablets and glasses of water prior to going to bed. Oh, and for some odd reason, LONG cool showers seem to lift my spirits after even longer nights out.

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