Alcohol has been around for thousands of years.
So has New Year’s Eve (depending on the calendar you believe in.)
No matter, you would think by now someone — anyone — would have figured out a cure or a prevention for the common hangover.
That doesn’t mean people haven’t tried to convince you that they do have the breakthrough cure for what ails you and your liver.
Pills, potions, and powders come a dime a dozen — and none, zero, zip, have solid scientific evidence that they work. The manufacturers may try to convince you otherwise, but some of the claims are crazy enough to make you howl (in pain).
So I’m sorry — no miracle promises here, just a straight shot of alcohol science.
Starting with why you feel so badly. Alcohol is a poison. Actually, its byproduct, acetaldehyde, is a poison. (Bartender, I’ll have a Strawberry Acetaldehyde… and make it a double.)
Your liver, and other assorted body parts, does not like acetaldehyde. But then again, what body likes any poison?
So, here are some do’s and dont’s for hangover prevention — besides telling you not to drink:
Water = good. Ever wonder why you go hit the restroom a million times after a couple drinks? It’s because alcohol tells the kidneys to produce 4X its normal volume of urine. And dehydration worsens a hangover. Lots of water may help head off an angry head.
Food = also a good idea. Rapid alcohol absorption equals rapid and increased level of hangover. Food slows that down. And that means eating before and while drinking, not chowing down afterwards — unless you like being sprawled over a toilet.
Clear vs. dark beverages = Don’t know for sure on this one. Some science shows congeners, a chemical that makes things like scotch or whiskey dark in color, increase the risk of hangover. Then again, drink enough vodkas or gins, and I’m sure you’ll live to regret it, clear alcohol or not.
As for dont’s:
Aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen preventively. The first two, in combo with booze, will burn a hole in your stomach. The third puts you at risk for liver failure when combined with alcohol.
B vitamins — No way. No way. And for that matter, no way. (Despite marketing claims to the contrary).
Coffee — Ha. If you don’t already know this one doesn’t work to prevent a hangover, you can enjoy being a wide awake drunk.
Hair of the dog — it just delays the inevitable. In fact, its kind of like squirting lighter fluid on smoldering embers. Not the best idea.
The bottom line is science doesn’t have all of the answers, even for issues that have existed for time eternal. Have fun, be safe … and feel good on the 1st.