Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How to Cure/Avoid a Hangover

The holy grail of every decent drinking man is the ultimate cure to the anything but elusive hangover. By "decent" drinking I don't mean the 3 Smirnoff Twisteds you slurp down while watching figure skating with your gal pals. I'm talking about the kind of drinking that would get Dracula smashed off your life juice. It's the kind of drinking that makes you swear off alcohol for life...then has you crawling back a week later. I had a look (and try) at all the popular remedies, here's what works and why:

Black coffee the next morning - Not Effective. While I don't particularly enjoy my coffee black, it is helpful. In my
opinion, it doesn't have to be coffee. It just has to be strong in caffeine. Alcohol shrinks your red blood cells when it enters your blood stream. Once it leaves, your blood vessels re-expand causing severe discomfort. Caffeine, like alcohol, also has the ability to constrict your blood vessels. Doing so relieves the discomfort caused by the rapid expansion. The reason this only works slightly is because the relief is fleeting. Coffee, being a diuretic, causes your body to lose even more fluids. When your lacking fluids as it is, draining out even more won't help your cause. Stay away from the caffeine.

Multivitamin - Somewhat effective. Vitamin C and Vitamin B both help the body break down and metabolize the alcohol that' s been suddenly introduced into your system. A multivitamin will also replace some minerals lost in the drinking process. A simple vitamin isn't hard to obtain or ingest and it's just a good habit to take your daily vitamin.

Tall glass of water before bed - Very effective. The main reason for your hangover is because of dehydration. A night of binge drinking drains your body of it's vital water. Forcing yourself to drink a full glass of water ensures that your body won't become a California raisin overnight.

Advil - Not effective. Any pain relief is quite temporary. Also, you have a chance of upsetting your already sensitive stomach and making the situation worse for yourself.

Choose vodka - Somewhat effective. Earlier I mentioned that the main cause of the hangover is dehydration. The second cause is the methyl alcohol you ingested. While ethyl alcohol is the good type that gets you drunk, methyl alcohol is the toxic type that will cause you to go blind and, eventually, kill you. Vodka, by nature, is voided of as many impurities as possible. Also the finer the vodka, the better the filtration, meaning less methyl to give you a hangover. Next time it comes to choosing between your fifth Jaeger bomb or a Ketel One with lime know where to go, Boris.

Eat a juicy fruit before bed - Somewhat effective. Again, this follows the principle of rehydrating yourself as well as replacing lost nutrients. Also, drained in the drinking process are your blood sugars. A juicy, sweet pair before bed should help keep your blood sugar level within range through the night.

Ginseng - Not effective. Your local Chines herbal remedy store owner might be quick to prescribe ginseng for your morning-after cranial contractions but don't fall for it. Ginseng, like coffee, is a diuretic and will have you even more dehydrated than before.

Bloody Mary - Effective. Mrs. B Mary has her way of replenishing drained vitamins and mineral, reshrinking blood vessels and rehydrating the body slightly. There is good reason why the Bloody Mary is the classic hangover recipe. I like to add extra Tabasco because not only do spicy foods make you feel full quicker (read my article on slimming foods), but it also speeds up your metabolism, helping your body burn off the unwelcomed alcohol.

Exercise - Effective. A quality exercise will bring cleansing oxygen to your lungs, loosen your stiffened muscles and return proper blood flow to all the areas that need it. While a good workout can do wonders for your hangover, the wrong movements at the wrong pace at the wrong intensity will just make your throbbing head and achy muscles much worse. There are a few important things to remember when choosing your routine. Before you do anything, drink heaps of water. Your body is dehydrated and you're about to sweat out even more water.
  • Don't do movements that involve compressing your body. This will sporadically raise your blood pressure and will cause added nausea
  • Don't lower your head past your heart. The blood rushing to your head will put unneeded pressure on the blood vessels and will amp up that incessant throbbing
  • Opt for light, low impact workouts like yoga, ellipse machine or light weight/high rep workouts
  • Give yourself a slow, proper stretch before and after your workout. The last thing you want is to add cramping to the list of why your body is killing you.
  • Take frequent sips of water. Remember, you're still on the red line for dehydration
  • Some laps in the pool could be the ideal relaxing, low impact workout if your able to do so.
Drinking lime juice - Not Effective. Apparently this helps with your blood sugar level and vitamine c. In my opinion it's too little too late.

Berocca - Not Effective. For those who don't know, Berocca is a tablet made by Bayer that's said to prevent or relieve hangovers. Essentially, Berocca is some vitamin C and Bs. A multivitamin with a glass of spicy V8 will do a much better job.

Of course, the #1 cure prevention for a hangover, which never fails, is don't stop drinking ;)

I encourage you to message me with other hangover preventions/remedies you've heard of. I'd like to take a look into them. Until next time, have fun, party hard and know that everyone around you would prefer your half digested food remain inside your stomach, so moderation is key. Lates, sucka.