Booster Shots

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New Year’s Eve reminder: The best hangover cure …

December 31, 2009 |  6:27 pm

… is actually the only hangover cure. Time.

The trick to avoiding the morning after is to drink lots of water, avoid darker liquors and don’t go too crazy in the first place.

Hangovers are caused by alcohol poisoning (and the subsequent withdrawal), which won’t dissipate until your body metabolizes all of the booze swimming through your bloodstream and gets its physiology back to normal. Because alcohol is a depressant, your nerves react to compensate and the result is painful sensitivity to light and sound in the morning. The dehydration thanks to the sauce’s diuretic properties doesn’t help much either. As I blogged earlier, the original hangover symptoms are made worse by congeners, or particles created by the fermentation process that give different spirits their unique color and flavor.

Nothing can really speed up that alcohol elimination process, though some say eating food can goad the metabolism into speeding things up a little.

To recap: Here’s a snippet from 2005 BMJ paper that presented a systematic review of a few better-known remedies:
- Exercise
- Fresh air
- Bloody Mary (that is, alcoholic drinks)
- Coffee
- Sleep

And the scientists’ conclusion?

“Our findings show that no compelling evidence exists to suggest that any complementary or conventional intervention is effective for treating or preventing the alcohol hangover.… The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is thus to practise abstinence or moderation.”

In all likelihood, there’s just one reason Grandma’s stomach-churning smoothie of raw egg, tomato and cilantro seems to work: It provides a brief, nauseating distraction from your original hangover.

-- Amina Khan