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NYT: Raw Eggs? Hair of the Dog? Still No Cure, but New Options for the Besotted
New York Times ^ | December 7, 2004 | JONATHAN D. GLATER

Posted on 12/07/2004 6:23:45 AM PST by OESY

In the third day of a seemingly endless bachelor party in Cabo San Lucas last year, Hal Walker, 33, woke up with a set of classic symptoms. His head ached. Loud noises made him wince. Bright lights hurt his eyes.

Mr. Walker's flight home from Mexico to Colorado, where he is now a co-owner of the Island Grill in Fort Collins, left at 8 a.m., and it was all he could do to get to the airport.

"If you can find a remedy for hangovers, that would be great," he said, voicing a sentiment familiar to anyone who has imbibed just a little too much and was sorry about it the next day.

In fact, recent studies suggest that help for at least some aftereffects of intoxication may not be too much to ask for.

Last summer, a group of doctors reported in The Archives of Internal Medicine that an extract from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus, taken in capsule form, was effective in staving off hangover symptoms like dry mouth and nausea.

Perfect Equation of Vista, Calif., financed the research and has patented the extract, which it says is derived from the skin of the prickly pear, Opuntia ficus.

Another company, Living Essentials of Walled Lake, Mich., markets Chaser, a pill containing activated calcium carbonate and activated charcoal. The company has financed a study of the dietary supplement, completed in 2002, its marketing director, Carl Sperber, said. The findings have not been published.

Experts say that despite such products, a true hangover cure remains elusive. And the hangover itself is imperfectly understood, perhaps because scientists have largely devoted their efforts to understanding alcohol dependence and the health effects of drinking.

Dr. Linda C. Degutis, an associate professor of emergency medicine and public health at Yale, said hangovers were "incredibly understudied."

Most popular remedies, including those sold over the counter, have no peer-reviewed research to back up their assertions. Some experts argue that even conducting such research raises ethical issues.

The development of a foolproof hangover cure, for example, might encourage people to drink more, knowing they could take a pill to avoid suffering the next day.

And the prospect of bus drivers' or airplane pilots' popping hangover pills and going to work is enough to give anyone pause.

Some researchers argue that hangovers impose such large costs on society that they have to be studied. No one has precise figures, but one study cited in the prickly pear article estimated the cost of alcohol-related problems, including hangovers, at nearly $150 billion a year in the United States.

Such studies - focusing on whether remedies for hangover symptoms would also prevent the effects of a hangover on judgment, concentration, motor skills and other critical functions - "are absolutely the next step," said Dr. Michael G. Shlipak, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and an author of the prickly pear report.

One obstacle, however, may be that there is no consensus among scientists on how to define a hangover, Dr. Degutis said.

Headache, thirst, nausea and muscle aches are probably the most familiar symptoms. Dr. Shlipak's study identified additional symptoms, including soreness, tremulousness and dizziness.

The effects of alcohol on the body are well known. When people drink, alcohol is quickly absorbed through the stomach lining. Most of it directly enters the bloodstream.

In the body, alcohol dilates blood vessels, creating a warm flush. It also depresses the central nervous system, resulting first in euphoria and then, as the alcohol wears off, anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Carried in the blood to the liver, alcohol breaks down into acetaldehyde and other byproducts that leave the body through the urine and the lungs.

On average, the body can process about one drink an hour, and sticking to that pace for a limited period should reduce the likelihood of a hangover, Dr. Degutis said. One drink is defined as one 12-ounce can of beer, 1.5 ounces of 80 proof whiskey or 5 ounces of wine.

But every person's body is different, she cautioned.

What happens when a drinker consumes enough alcohol to result in a hangover is a little less clear.

Dr. Shlipak and his colleagues have focused on the possibility that the immune system may react to toxic byproducts of fermentation in alcoholic beverages called congeners.

Congeners "are poisons, and the body recognizes them as such," said Dr. Jeffrey G. Wiese, an associate professor of medicine at Tulane and also an author of the prickly pear study. As a general rule, Dr. Wiese said, the darker the alcoholic beverage is, the more congeners it has.

So according to studies, vodka generally causes less severe hangovers than, say, bourbon.

The researchers theorize that congeners may set off the release of cytokines, molecules that white blood cells release in fighting off viruses or other invaders. Cytokines signal inflammation in the body and cause the achy, tired feelings that people get when they have the flu.

Prickly pear extract, Dr. Shlipak and his colleagues suggest, helps by reducing the immune response to congeners. In their study, the researchers found that when graduate student testers drank five hours after taking the pill, they experienced less severe hangover symptoms.

Living Essentials says Chaser works by capturing certain congener molecules, preventing the body from absorbing them.

"The secret is the activation of the calcium carbonate," said Mr. Sperber, the marketing director. "You can't just take Tums and burnt toast and get the same effect."

Dr. Shlipak said that he had not seen any studies on the effectiveness of Chaser but that charcoal, which does not bind to alcohol, could in theory block the absorption of the congeners in alcoholic beverages. That would mean that people who had consumed charcoal before drinking would still absorb all the alcohol, but might experience less severe hangover symptoms.

"It's possible," Dr. Shlipak said. "Without commenting on how their product works or if it works, I think the concept is intriguing."

Other researchers pointed out that anyone who can remember to pop any type of hangover pill through a night of drinking should be able to remember to drink water or even take the radical step of drinking a little less.

Dehydration also plays an important role in hangovers. The body tends to lose water as more alcohol is consumed because alcohol is a diuretic, causing people to urinate more frequently regardless of how much water they are drinking.

That is why interspersing water or some other beverage with alcoholic drinks is a good idea, said Dr. Erik DeLue, a doctor of internal medicine at St. Margaret Mercy Hospital in Hammond, Ind., outside Chicago. Not only does the water rehydrate the body, Dr. DeLue said, but it also reduces the desire to consume more alcohol to slake thirst.

"It's doubly effective," he said.

There is some evidence that the withdrawal of alcohol contributes to some hangover symptoms. The body essentially becomes more excited to counter alcohol's depressant effects, and after the alcohol is removed, the body is left in that somewhat hyper state. That explains why some people with hangovers may experience an accelerated heart rate and become twitchy and sweaty.

In serious cases, alcohol withdrawal can lead to "holiday heart," called that because it may occur after a few days of binge drinking.

The heart may beat too quickly or, worse, its muscles may beat out of sequence, in extreme instances causing heart failure or, indirectly, a stroke.

After drinking too much, people tend not to sleep very deeply, Dr. Wiese said, because the brain also becomes more alert as the depressant effects wear off. While that means that alcohol-fueled dreams may be very lively, it also means that in addition to being dried out and suffering various aches, pains and twitches, hangover victims are quite likely to wake up tired, thirsty and very, very sleepy.

Mark Harris, a former dot-com worker who lives in San Francisco, recalled a painful day suffering several symptoms after a company outing in Palo Alto, Calif., about 10 years ago.

"There were some bigwigs, and they were all trying to outdrink each other," Mr. Harris said. "We put down a lot of Guinness. There was a lab meeting in the morning, and it was not optional, and all of us knew it.

"So the next day, we all dragged ourselves in. I tried the Odwalla blackberry shake to mitigate the circumstances. I thought maybe the fresh fruits and the vitamins would help me out."

He paused and added, "That was just horrific."

Several people interviewed about their hangovers said they had stumbled across possible cures by chance and every once in a while found a solution that they liked.

Sheila Turner, a publicity agent in Washington, said she used vitamin C. Other people swear by tomato juice, raw eggs, carbonated beverages, hot coffee or big greasy breakfasts.

Doctors say there is little evidence to support most popular hangover remedies.

Tomato juice makes some sense, Dr. Degutis said, because it contains salt, which helps the body retain fluids.

But raw eggs make no sense at all, Dr. Wiese said, "unless it's that the pain of eating the raw egg takes your mind off" the hangover.

Many doctors recommend drinking orange juice, Gatorade or similar sports drinks that replenish electrolytes and taking pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen. Tylenol may not be a good idea, some experts said, because, like alcohol, it is metabolized by the already-overworked liver.

One thing that no one advises is more alcohol, the traditional cure known as "hair of the dog that bit you."

While drinking to help a hangover may alleviate the problem of alcohol withdrawal, it can also impair mental functioning, contribute to alcohol addiction and a worse hangover down the road, Dr. Degutis said.

Many experts agreed that the best cure for a hangover was to avoid drinking too much in the first place.

"Ideally, you're not supposed to drink more than three if you're a man, two if you're a woman," Dr. Karin Rhodes, an emergency attending physician for the University of Chicago Hospitals, said. "And you should never drive within four hours of drinking two or more drinks."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: alcohol; drinks; hangover; livingessentials; perfectequation

1 posted on 12/07/2004 6:23:46 AM PST by OESY
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To: OESY
The "cure" is not to get one in the first place

It really is possible to have fun without drinking

2 posted on 12/07/2004 6:25:32 AM PST by apackof2 (Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead!)
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To: OESY

The cure is called water. Drink lots of it.


3 posted on 12/07/2004 6:25:45 AM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: HairOfTheDog

:)

Becky


4 posted on 12/07/2004 6:26:53 AM PST by PayNoAttentionManBehindCurtain
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To: OESY

Strawberry Quik & a greasy cheeseburger with extra salt & ketchup works for me.


5 posted on 12/07/2004 6:27:31 AM PST by Fierce Allegiance (Stay safe in the "sandbox" Greg!)
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To: OESY

Alcohol depletes B vitamins in your body, and depleted B vitamins cause many of the symptoms. The key is to take a B Complex before going to bed and/or to take a tablespoon full of honey, which is full of B vitamins.


6 posted on 12/07/2004 6:28:29 AM PST by hispanarepublicana (Miss Free Republic High School-198?)
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To: OESY; All
Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.

-- Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim.


7 posted on 12/07/2004 6:28:46 AM PST by dighton
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To: OESY

Ted Kennedy has a great remedy for hangovers...It`s called more alcohol.


8 posted on 12/07/2004 6:29:10 AM PST by Imaverygooddriver (I`m a very good driver and I approve this message.)
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To: OESY
Actually, and IV and oxygen will cure you. When I was a volunteer firefighter, it was our cure of choice, never failed to get rid of the worst we did to ourselves the night before.
9 posted on 12/07/2004 6:29:43 AM PST by Sthitch
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To: apackof2

how,beer is god


10 posted on 12/07/2004 6:31:29 AM PST by Lorraine
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To: OESY
My hangover cure has always been two sausage links, four strips of bacon, a cheddar omelette, homefries, toast with plenty of butter and jelly and lots of light, sweet coffee.

And my favorite alcoholic beverages are ones with lots of "congeners" - Guinness, Burgundy, port, brandy, bourbon.

11 posted on 12/07/2004 6:31:45 AM PST by wideawake (God bless our brave soldiers and their Commander in Chief)
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Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: apackof2
It really is possible to have fun without drinking

You are correct.

Nowadays I usually only drink as part of a meal, as opposed to drinking just to drink.

13 posted on 12/07/2004 6:34:27 AM PST by wideawake (God bless our brave soldiers and their Commander in Chief)
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To: OESY
Experts say that despite such products, a true hangover cure remains elusive. And the hangover itself is imperfectly understood, perhaps because scientists have largely devoted their efforts to understanding alcohol dependence and the health effects of drinking.

After having devoted many years of study to the various elixirs, I woke up one morning to discover that I had developed some sort of allergy to the stuff. It now makes me totally ill, causes some sort of chemical imbalance in my nervous system and more than one drink gives me a hangover.

LOL! I even tried to smoke some grass a few years ago and ended up in a heap on the floor panting like a dog with heart worm.

I have no other outlets for my misery anymore and now I must live with it.

Oh the horror, the horror..........................:-)

14 posted on 12/07/2004 6:35:10 AM PST by Cold Heat (What are fears but voices awry?Whispering harm where harm is not and deluding the unwary. Wordsworth)
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To: HairOfTheDog

You made the times....


15 posted on 12/07/2004 6:38:24 AM PST by Jalapeno
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To: OESY

When I was in college, my roommate would always make me eat pasta with tomato soup and butter on it after a night of drinking. I don't know what it was about that combination, but I always woke up feeling fine in the morning. Forcing it down the night before wasn't much fun though.


16 posted on 12/07/2004 6:44:33 AM PST by SilentServiceCPOWife (In the smiling twilight of the new political morning, the unwashed told their betters to shove it.)
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To: hispanarepublicana

Back when I was drinking, I would take a multi-vitamin tablet and aspirin, either before, during, or immediately after i drank. It worked very well.

The vitamin tablet replaced many of the vitamins (expeically Vitamin C) lost to the alcohol and the aspirin help stave off the headaches in advance.


17 posted on 12/07/2004 6:49:13 AM PST by keithtoo (Defeat Le' Partie' Democratique)
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To: OESY

At least two hours before I have a drink or three I will load up on Vitamin C and electrolytes. I stay away from overly sweet cocktails and sodas. I'll have a scotch on the rocks with a water back. If I do feel hungover the next day the only thing I know that will help is a session in a sauna or steam where I can sweat out the poison.


18 posted on 12/07/2004 6:49:56 AM PST by Lee Heggy
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To: OESY

My intensive research found that most of the sickness part of the hangover was caused by impurities in the booze, with tequilla being the worst offender.
My fellow research technicians and I discovered that when we made our own moonshine from a recipe left over from the prohibition days called Minnesota 13, it was so pure that when you woke up the next day you were a bit tired and thirsty, but other than wondering how you got there you were basically intact and not sick.
Further research revealed that the dehydration could be countered by consuming much salty food during the drinking experiment.

Manic Episode PHD (Professional Heavy Drinker) Now retired.


19 posted on 12/07/2004 6:51:25 AM PST by Manic_Episode (OUT OF ORDER)
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To: OESY

A big glass of full-fat chocolate milk works for me! Maybe that's just a Wisconsin thing, but someone here also mentioned downing Strawberry Quik...


20 posted on 12/07/2004 6:58:48 AM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Manic_Episode

I would figure that salty food would just make you drink more. If you drink more water fine, but if it's booze, no go


21 posted on 12/07/2004 6:59:14 AM PST by Jammz ("The only thing needed for evil to prevail, is for good men to do nothing.")
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To: Imaverygooddriver

ted kennedy has never had a hangonver. One would need to stop drinking for that to happen.


22 posted on 12/07/2004 7:01:10 AM PST by mlbford2 ("Never wrestle with a pig; you can't win, you just get filthy, and the pig loves it...")
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To: Manic_Episode

Minnesota 13. Now, there's something you can write home about.


23 posted on 12/07/2004 7:03:22 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: apackof2
The "cure" is not to get one in the first place

That's right! If one drinks, moderation is the key word. The brain cells will thank you!

24 posted on 12/07/2004 7:05:16 AM PST by Peace Is Coming
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To: OESY

Ahh yes, the hangover. We can laugh about how bad these things are. Nice that we can legaly harm ourselves in this way.

But if you smoke pot (no hangover BTW) you should go to prison.

Anyone else see the insanity of that?


25 posted on 12/07/2004 7:05:55 AM PST by pnome
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To: OESY

I still swear by bloody marys and a cold rag on the forehead. Then sleep it off.


26 posted on 12/07/2004 7:06:05 AM PST by sandpit
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To: PayNoAttentionManBehindCurtain; Jalapeno

One thing that no one advises is more alcohol, the traditional cure known as "hair of the dog that bit you."

While drinking to help a hangover may alleviate the problem of alcohol withdrawal, it can also impair mental functioning, contribute to alcohol addiction and a worse hangover down the road, Dr. Degutis said.

Many experts agreed that the best cure for a hangover was to avoid drinking too much in the first place.

Killjoys ;~D

27 posted on 12/07/2004 7:06:44 AM PST by HairOfTheDog
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To: HairOfTheDog

You know, the only time my handle makes an FR headline is when that damned Scott Peterson trial makes news. Snif. I'd love to have my handle in a story about drinking.


28 posted on 12/07/2004 7:08:53 AM PST by Scott from the Left Coast
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To: HairOfTheDog
Many experts agreed that the best cure for a hangover was to avoid drinking too much in the first place.

Yeah, and the best way to avoid AIDS is...you know. That doesn't stop them from turning over ever rock looking a cure, for cryin' out loud.

29 posted on 12/07/2004 7:10:44 AM PST by Scott from the Left Coast
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To: Scott from the Left Coast

Yeah - but until they do find a cure.... I have been forced into moderation by my age.... I just can't take a night carousing in stride any more.... Lays me out for a whole day.


30 posted on 12/07/2004 7:12:43 AM PST by HairOfTheDog
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To: HairOfTheDog

I want millions in research $$$ to find a cure for this plague! Now! It's the scourge of mankind. Let's all wear beer-colored ribbons until the gubmint gives me enough to conduct research for a cure. When I get it, I'll do like good academics do with their grant money...I'll throw a kegger.


31 posted on 12/07/2004 7:17:35 AM PST by Scott from the Left Coast
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To: Scott from the Left Coast

My sympathies Scott:(


32 posted on 12/07/2004 7:18:33 AM PST by JRochelle
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To: Scott from the Left Coast

I'll vote for that! ~hic~


33 posted on 12/07/2004 7:19:24 AM PST by HairOfTheDog
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To: OESY
"holiday heart,"

A new one for the list!

Other things to worry about:

Asteroid Impact, Same Sex Marriage, Massive gamma ray burst from an outside the solar system event, BSE nvCJD, SARS, Smallpox, Ebola ,Flu- (human, bird, swine, duck, chicken), Salmonella, Carbs, Fat, Protein, Terrorists, Anthrax, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Too little ozone, Too much ozone, Global warming, Global cooling, Global Warming Chaos, Pesticides, Deer ticks, Nerve gas, Dirty bombs, Haliburton, SUVs, Guns, Acid rain, Too much Rain, Too little Rain, Nuclear power, Non-nuclearpower, Nuclear war, Conventional war, Wind Turbines shredding endangered birds, Obesity, Starvation, BCS, The Yankees with A’Rod, NCAA Basketball Tournament Selections, Pit bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes ,Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows, Great Danes, St. Bernards, Akitas, green ketchup, MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), Pet spiders, Yard Sale Congestion, Red King Crabs, Shadow people, Cattle mutilations, Junk Science, Supersize fries, ”Our worst fears were confirmed”, steroids in baseball, microwave popcorn, HIV, Peak Oil, Cholesterol both LDL and HDL, second hand smoke, Google Telephone Searches, backyard nuclear reactor, Nitrogen pollution, Carbon Dioxide Reported at Record Levels, Dangerous' Curry Colourings Cataracts from computers, brain tumors from cell phones, fire ants, killer bees, killer tomatoes, killer clowns the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Terrell Owens and Ron Artest, Exploding cell phones, cryptococcus gattii, methylisothiazolinone (MIT), "holiday heart," ... …

So much to worry about...

34 posted on 12/07/2004 7:26:50 AM PST by Calamari (Pass enough laws and everyone is guilty of something.)
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To: OESY

Avoiding a hangover is just too easy! A hangover is simply your body telling you it has been dehydrated due to alcohol consumption.

Before going to sleep, drink a glass of cool water and take two aspirins.

I've never had anyone tell me this doesn't work - and it has worked every time for me when I had one too many.


35 posted on 12/07/2004 7:52:55 AM PST by Don Simmons (Annoy a liberal: Work hard; Prosper; Be Happy.)
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