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Roast in hell, St. Patrick.

I woke up this morning wondering why small gnomes with pickaxes had invaded the frontal lobe of my brain. Then I remembered the row of Guinnesses purchased last night by some overly celebretory men and lined up before me. Then I remembered that those weren’t just Guinnesses, those were car bombs, each dark and creamy beer concealing within it a shot of pure death. What is it about a holiday that can turn an otherwise intelligent and rational girl into a sorority sister with a baffling hatred for her liver?

As I pray for mercy from a god I don’t believe in, I turn to reality for help. I pulled on my TAM4 Volunteer shirt, threw a book in my messenger bag, and am about to slink off to the coffeeshop for some tea and a muffin the size of my head. Anybody got any personal favorites when it comes to scientifically proven hangover remedies? I’ll let you know the results of my unblinded, completely biased test.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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11 Comments

  1. Sorry for your suffering, Rebecca :( Hope you at least enjoyed yourself during your night of debauchery (or if you can't remember, hope you companions can convince you that you did ;-) ).

    The only reliable hangover remedy I've ever encountered won't be able to help you now, becuase it's more of a preventative than a remedy, and that's to drink a large quantity (~16-20 ounces typicaly seems to work for me) of water prior to going to bed after a night of drinking. I'll still sometimes not feel quite perky the next morning, but usually don't feel like I've been run over by a freight train, either.

    Hope your head recovers quickly.

    Best regards,

    Mike

  2. After what is now known by my friends as "the long dark night of the margarita pitchers," a friend from the military suggested that I take the hottest shower that I could stand. It actually did help–I felt better, and stopped throwing up.

    Mostly. :)

  3. As a veteran of numerous losing bouts with ethanol, I have found that nothing cures a hangover so much as time and the hair of the dog that bit you. If I were you, my first stop would be the first emporium from which an ice cold Coca-Cola (regular, non-diet, sugar-laden, caffeinated death in a bottle) and two aspirin may be obtained. That should give you enough energy and alertness to make it the rest of the way to the pub. Ask for a Bloody Mary with Bitters and nurse that drink for an hour or so. Should give you some semblance of a will to live. Pop a couple of multi-vitamins and find yourself a purveyor of breakfast. You'll want eggs, bacon, toast with jelly and lots of hot coffee. That should set the inner metabolism right, giving you the energy to face the rest of the day. Chase your breakfast with another couple of aspirin and then, and only then, get yourself that hot shower mentioned above.

    You'll be right as rain by supper time.

  4. From a scientific standpoint, your body has stopped metabolizing the groovy things that makeyou feel like there is a reason why you should drink another car bomb and has now started metabolizing the things that make you think you have a herd of tap-dancing gila mosters living in your forehead. Because your metabolism prefers to metabolize things that make running naked through a hotel lobby seem like a good idea, over things that make you want to produce pavement pizza, one possible answer is hair of the dog.

    Alternatively you could try Berocca (Australian super-charge vitamin B). Trust me, we're Aussies – we invented hangovers.

  5. The two aspirin and lots of water just before

    hitting the sack when you get home is about

    the best. It may not settle your stomach but

    replaces the lost water from the diuretic effects

    and will definitely abolish the headache. If you

    can't tolerate regular aspirin get the coated

    ones and ALWAYS buy Bayer or other brand

    name, NO generics. Under a Republican admin

    it's ALWAYS 'let the buyer be damned', and there

    are no gurantees that you get what you're supposed

    to get. Consumer Reports did an aspirin study and

    sent aspirin off to be analysed and found that most

    generics didn't even half of the 325mg's they were

    supposed to contain. A medical school student sent

    a letter to a newspaper stating they tested the

    dissolveability of various aspirin in 250ml of distilled

    water and found some sitting in the bottom of the

    beakers as many as 7 DAYS after dropping them in

    and stirring for 30 seconds. The Bayer dissolved

    almost as soon as it hit the bottom of the beaker.

    FYI

  6. Hot damn you guys are smart. I might run these in the next issue of Skepchick as I think the greater audience needs to hear this important information.

    As for me, I did in fact make it to the coffee shop, where I had a giant cup of hot green tea and a gargantuan blueberry muffin. Fortune smiled upon me as someone vacated a big comfy chair just as I scooped up the muffin, so I chilled for about an hour reading and sipping and eating. By the time I left, the headache was nowhere to be felt.

    For the record, I do usually try to drink a lot of water before bed, but that normally is only to serve the immediate purpose of stopping the room spinning before I lay down, as I get very bad vertigo (which doesn't seem to be cured by the old hand/foot on the floor trick). In this extreme case, though, I didn't have much time to consume anything before falling asleep in bed. With all the lights on. And my computer. And still dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. And a cap. And the glasses. Okay, by "falling asleep in bed" I may actually mean "passing out on the bed." Whatever.

  7. Rebecca:

    Alcohol (chemical symbol ETOH), the molecule, consists of a single oxygen atom, and one hydrogen atom, bonded together in a "hydroxy radical" with two carbon atoms. Alcohol has a strong affinity for water, and is immediately evenly distributed within water based upon the molecular composition.

    Brain tissue has a fairly high water content, so the brain receives a substantial share of distributed alcohol.

    For that reason, the best thing you can do is ingest as much water as you can stand. Not, necessarily, for reasons of counteracting the diuretic effect, as someone stated above, but because It will "dilute" the alcohol, and help immediately counter effects of alcohol, and speed up the elimination process.

    After that, studies show that eating a combination of simple and complex carbohydrates, like toast with honey, will help reintroduce lost sugars to your brain, making you feel better. Aspirin is not truly a "cure", but it will block pain receptors that cause the crummy feeling the next day. Likewise, a hot shower will cause "Orthostasis", or lowered blood pressure, and that will relieve some of the pounding in your head, but it won't "cure" the alcohol effects.

    That's to help this time. The next time you go drinking, eat something first, and alternate each drink with a full glass of water. Food has to be partially digested in the stomach before it reaches the small intestine, where alcohol absorption takes place , and when the nervous system detects food in the stomach, it immediately commands a muscle at the base of the stomach to contract, cutting off the passage to the small intestine. This muscle is called the pylorus, or pyloric valve.

    This act will cause absorption to match the absorption rate of whatever food you are eating. Carbohydrates are absorbed fastests, with proteins substantially slower, and fats slowest of all. However, the overall effect is to slow the absorption rate significantly, and slow the rate of alcohol getting into the bloodstream. Your blood alcohol level will not climb as high as it would have it you had drank on an empty stomach, which will save you the spike in BAC that causes the hangover effects when elimination takes place.

    Remember that alcoholic absorption is one of those areas of science where there is a difference between men and women! Women have only 55% water, compared to the typical male body with 68% water, mostly due to muscle/fat composition differences and adipose tissue. "Keeping up with the boys" can affect you much differently than them.

    By the way, I LOVE the blog and read it daily. Sorry I hadn't met you at the last two TAMs, but I'll be sure to say hi at the next one at the Riviera.

    Robert Miller

    Irvine, CA

  8. Personally, I think they should bring back the snakes! :-)

    Seriously, go with the asprin & water before bed. If you missed it before bed, take it when you wake up. Other morning-after responses all seem to involve getting some calories into the victim, usually with hefty doses of salt, fat, and/or "hot" spices (hot pepper, horseradish, etc).

  9. Felt the need to toss in a vote….1/2 gallon of water and 4 regular-strength ibuprofen at bedtime, then a greasy breakfast and 45 minutes on the treadmill after getting out of bed. The treadmill doesn't really help the hangover, but it's something that screws with the heads of the people you went out drinking with.

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