Hangover cures and science Introduction
A shot of alcohol on an empty stomach
Source: New Scientist
Trotting back and forth to the toilet means loss, not only of water, but also of large amounts of essential ions that are critical important for the metabolism. Sodium and potassium ions, for example, are important for the functions of muscles and nerves. Disturbances of the chemical balance as a result of a lack of such ions may explain symptoms such as headache, vomiting and fatigue.
Alcohol has a number of other nasty tricks up the sleeve: it can affect our sugar reserves and trigger hypoglycemia. Alcohol converts energy-rich glycogen in the liver to glucose, which swiftly exits the body via the urine. Hapless tipplers know only too well the feeling of weakness and grogginess the next day. The question of the ion balance makes some alcohol pundits suspect that drinking ‘sport drinks’ before retiring to bed may spare these unpleasant symptoms: they do after all contain considerable doses of ions and sugars. Hence remedy number two: a can of the stuff. A couple of volunteer drinkers said they felt well the next day, but the sport drinks had only a marginal effect compared with “just water”. A number of volunteers complained of a bloated feeling, not exactly what you might want on a belly full of beer or wine.