Hangover cures and science Introduction
A shot of alcohol on an empty stomach
Source: New Scientist
The hangover: anyone who hasn’t woken up with workmen in his head deserves to be beatified! Excruciating: a near-death experience, that birdcage mouth, blinding headache, aching hard-rubber joints. Sick, having a groan down the white telephone, calling your friends Hughie and Ethel. Ever since the dawn of time, Homo sapiens has been mortified by the “the morning after the night before”, after all the oh-be-joyful.
Science can do all kinds of things: we can fly to the moon, we make computers with incredible capacities, but just what can’t we do? Apparently, we can’t come up with a scientifically sound, experimentally tried and tested remedy against the hangover. The reason is obvious: the fear of the authorities, doctors and captains of industry that an experimental hangover cure would lead to a catastrophic upsurge in alcohol abuse among moderate drinkers. After all, the hangover is nothing more than nature’s gentle way of reminding you that there really are better in which you might consider treating your body. And thus it follows that there is no scientifically sure way of devising a product against the hangover. To be sure, there is plenty of research afoot on the effect of alcohol on the body. And this is precisely what has incited many researchers to speculate about the best remedies against hangovers.
One modest attempt has in fact been made to study the effect of some folk remedies by empirical scientific experiment. The New Scientist magazine shanghaied a dozen inexperienced volunteers (in the celebrations for the new millennium, which was safely expected to be more than commonly well lubricated). Their task would be to drink prodigious amounts of alcohol and to try out a different pick-me-up each week. The morning after the drinking bout they would record their “grottiness” quotient by reference to a number of symptoms. Mindful of dehydration, the best-known effect of immoderate drinking, the volunteers always drank a glass of water before hitting the hay.