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Hangover Medicine

by David Lauterbach
2009 December 28

Beer RxWhat can I say, New Year’s Eve is here… the most drinkinest day of the year. If you’re a frequent Belly reader, then I’m sure you already know how to drink… and probably have joined us in referring to New Year’s Eve as Amateur’s Night.

But whether you’re new at this drinking thing, or consider yourself an old pro like the Buddies do, there is one certain thing that we all have in common… the hangover.

We’re not going to sit here and tell you to drink water and take aspirin before you pass out, every beer-blooded American knows that one. But here’s a few things to keep in mind that you may not have known about when you’re out drinking in the new year…

PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE

Fuel.
We all know that you shouldn’t go out on an empty stomach… but do you know why? Eating before you drink or while you are drinking helps absorb the alcohol and slows the rate of intoxication. If you can slow it down, it doesn’t hit the bloodstream as quickly, which may reduce the chances of a hangover. Your body absorbs alcohol through the stomach lining, so try eating bread or starchy foods like pasta before you settle down on a bar stool for a long winter’s drink.

Eating during the night can’t hurt, but intoxication can impede or stop digestion, so keep that in mind as you’re biting into that eighth White Castle at 3AM.

Hydration.
Your body can process approximately one ounce of alcohol per hour. Calm down Mr. Peterson, there is only about one ounce of alcohol in a beer (also equivalent to one shot or one glass of wine). Most guys I know can put away 2 to 3 beers an hour, which is why we’re all idiots inside of 3 hours. If you want to stay out of the asshole club, try drinking a glass of water after every few beers. This will slow you down. but it serves another important purpose. Alcohol is a diuretic (any substance that increases the flow of urine). This means (simply) that your urine volume will increase because water lost from your kidneys is not reabsorbed into your blood… you dehydrate if you do not replace this water (more on this ahead). The best ratio of water to alcohol would be 1:1, but where’s the fun in that?

Mother Goose.
We’ve all heard the unsuitable-for-nursery rhyme “Liquor before beer, in the clear… Beer before liquor, never sicker.” Mother Goose is only partially right as far as we can tell. Here are the facts: Your body will have a tough time dealing with multiple types of spirits. Also, because beer is carbonated it will cause your body to absorb the alcohol quicker than, say, a glass of wine. But alcohol mixed with Seven-Up or Coke is just as carbonated as a beer, so the absorption rate is the same. Whether or not drinking one before the other will make you “sicker” is open for debate, but the carbonated route will get you drunk faster.

The Mythbusters team tried to clear this up, but if you asked me they got the myth wrong in the first place.  They pondered if drinking beer and liquor would make you sicker than drinking just beer (they declared the myth busted).

Try taking a multi-vitamin or a B-complex before you drink.
Recent studies show that vitamin B12 injections have been particularly useful in de-toxifying the body during and after drinking. Even if these don’t help your hangover, your body probably hasn’t received a vitamin since your mother made you take Flintstone’s chewables.

Make sure it’s a cold one.
Your body absorbs liquid at body temperature. Warm beer is closer to this temperature than cold beer, so it is absorbed faster into the blood stream. I bet a properly chilled shot of Jager takes days to be absorbed.

Order from the top shelf.
If you get what you pay for and don’t pay enough, you may be drinking the swill with lots of impurities and congeners (by-products of alcohol metabolism). Dark rums and dark beers tend to have a lot more crap in them that the body has a tough time with (don’t even get us started on dirty beer taps). There are plenty of exceptions, but for the most part, the lighter the beverage the less likely your body is to revolt the next morning.

Beware of KGB.
Many of you have heard about RU-21 and other “Anti-Hangover” pills. The original “KGB Pill” was developed at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and is now being marketed in the United States. RU-21 claims to regulate the process of alcohol metabolism. The pill was never really proven to work by the KGB, and was then dropped from their program and later declassified. So it was a pill developed by the KGB, that much is true… but does it work? Probably no better than our advice to take a multi-vitamin or B-complex (RU-21 is really no more than a nutritional supplement). Also consider the fact that you need to take one pill before or during every alcoholic drink to reduce the negative effects of consumption. At about $5 for 20 pills at GNC that’s $6 for each case of beer you drink. Personally, I’ll wait until someone in the U.S. with an institute attached to their name does a study on this or any other anti-hangover pill.

Aspirin and water at bedtime.
Since aspirin is a drug, our lawyer (and drinking buddy) tells us we can’t take an official stand on the oldest and bestest trick in the book… two aspirin before bed. Aspirin can irritate your stomach (if that’s possible) and may cause ulcers or bleeding problems if combined with alcohol. More importantly, studies reveal that Tylenol (acetaminophen) combined with alcohol can cause severe liver damage. Actually, so can drinking yourself into a stupor every night, so you can make your own decisions.

But of course, drink as much water as you can handle before you hit the sack. A bottle of Gatorade or the like is great too because it replenishes the body of lost nutrients and electrolytes.

THE NEXT MORNING
Good morning sunshine. It hurts, don’t it? Don’t let it get to you. Without a doubt the best known cure is to sleep as late as you can… like we needed to tell you to sleep.

What you’re feeling right now is dehydration at it’s worst. This is how you would feel in the middle of the frickin’ desert (and you’d have sunstroke or heat exhaustion to boot).

When you’re body is dehydrated, the muscles ache and tremble. When your brain is dehydrated it’s outer covering can shrink (no, not your skull… it’s called dura matter) and cause the pain that makes Sunday morning coming down so damn pleasant.

You would think that with all the liquid you were getting into your body the night before that dehydration wouldn’t be a problem. But as we learned, alcohol is a diuretic and it will make you leak like a sieve… you’ll end up peeing so much that you’ll dehydrate yourself. Most of the aches in your body will go away after getting some water in you.

We hate to say it at Brian’s Belly, but it looks like our arch-enemies the fruits and vegetables have the edge when it comes to curing our headaches. The key word here is antioxidant. An antioxidant prevents, delays or counteracts the deterioration in your body’s tissue. Where can you get these mysterious antioxidants? Eat something… or drink something.

POM, SoBe, Snapple, Vitamin Water and even a Cherry 7Up drink contain certain antioxidants… Sobe Power has taurine, for example, and the rest of their power line and tea line have nutrients such as ginseng for long lasting endurance, ginkgo for sharpening the mind and guarana (a nut found in Brazil that’s a natural form of caffeine) for delivering an immediate energy boost… three things you really could use the morning after a binge. Caffeine can also irritate your stomach further, good to keep in mind if you’re not a coffee drinker.

The health benefits of notable antioxidants such as blueberry, pomegranate, acai berry, and goji berry are being actively promoted by manufacturers of drinks that contain the magical molecules. Medical research has revealed that antioxidants are a very special kind of molecule, capable of slowing down cell degeneration by curbing free radicals, or cell-damaging agents in the body. HuffPo covered the latest trends in the antioxidant movement since wild new health beverages are flooding the marketplace everyday.

And fuel up with a great breakfast… cure your hangover with a slice of pizza. The secret is in the sauce. Tomatoes are high in vitamins B and C, the body’s primary antioxidant nutrient. This is why tomatoes are a common ingredient in many hangover remedies such as Bloody Mary’s. Tomatoes also contain potassium, a mineral that is lost while you’re whizzing. Low levels of potassium can contribute to the DT’s you’re feeling.

In addition to tomatoes, try a banana for potassium or get yourself a can of V8. We’ve also heard a lot of buzz around strawberries. Eat about 10 fresh strawberries- in addition to minerals and vitamin C, strawberries contain significant amounts of the antioxidant lycopene.

And, when all else fails, there is the “Hair of the Dog.” When you want to get rid of that headache caused by the de-tox that began in your body when you fell asleep- just wake and keep on drinking whatever it is that put you there. Just remember, the effects are only temporary and eventually the dog will bite.

5 Comments from the Chuckle Patch leave one →
2009 March 6
Tom permalink

Avoid a hangover by taking an all natural energy shot before drinking. I recommend 5 Hour Energy. It’s loaded with B vitamins that help with the after effects of alcohol.

If you forget to take it before, it also works well to cure a hangover in the morning. It has caffeine equal to a cup of coffee, so it’s a good “wake-me-up”.

The last two New Year’s Eve parties were absolutely painless, even after downing a fifth of Irish Whiskey at each. Felt great New Year’s Day!

2009 June 17
cheryl permalink

Avoid a hangover by, well, just staying drunk.

2011 March 10

[...] Many people (including myself) think that drinking water or Gatorade (or some other electrolyte-hearty beverage) is slightly better than coffee because it rehydrates the body. A little hair of the dog after a cool, refreshing glass of water never hurt either. More from Brian’s Belly on the subject here. [...]

Pingback
2011 July 7
bcayeg permalink

I HIGHLY recommend NOHO Drink….it’s a 2 oz. shot of vitamins (can buy on their website)! No caffeine, no sugar, no carbs….just pure goodness! You take one shot of NOHO before you drink and one shot after…and you will not believe how you feel when you wake up in the morning…it’s magic!

2013 February 19
Brett Myers permalink

Hangovercaps is a remedy against hangovers. There are many supposed cures for hangovers. The intensity of a hangover depends on the condition of the liver, which is partially determined by heredity and also lifestyle. By taking Hangovercaps before consuming alcohol, your liver will receive optimal support and you will not have a hangover the next morning.

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