June 18th, 2008

Hangover cure

Everyday Drinking, Kingsley AmisDuring last month’s drinking spree … oops, I mean research expedition … in San Francisco, I appropriately came across some excellent writing about hangovers. A recent New Yorker article, A few too many: Is there any hope for the hungover?, goes deep into the world of hangover remedies. The two major types are discussed: folk (Russians swear by pickle juice and vodka) and pharmaceutical (preventive pills like RU-21 — get it?).

The body of research on hangover cures is thin, notes the writer, Joan Acocella. That’s basically because no upstanding research institution is willing to do what is required to find a treatment for the effects of overconsumption: bankroll a massive study involving a large population of drunken (read: difficult to control) human test subjects who, most people think, deserve to suffer the consequences of their folly anyway. “Which is curious, because anyone who discovered a widely effective hangover cure would make a great deal of money,” notes Acocella.

In describing the different physiological and psychological facets of a hangover, she quotes the master, British novelist and bon vivant Kingsley Amis. He describes the “metaphysical hangover”: “When that ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you, start telling yourself that what you have is a hangover. . . . You have not suffered a minor brain lesion, you are not all that bad at your job, your family and friends are not leagued in a conspiracy of barely maintained silence about what a shit you are, you have not come at last to see life as it really is.”

Brilliant. Doesn’t it make you feel better? Luckily, Amis wrote three books on drinking — On Drink in 1972, Everyday Drinking in 1983 and How’s Your Glass? in 1984 — which have recently been gathered together and reissued as a single volume titled Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis. Maybe a little eloquence on the pleasures and pains of overconsumption is all the cure we need.

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5 Responses to “Hangover cure”

  1. Adam

    This was definitely an entertaining read. I especially liked his note that you should drink a lot of water before bed, but that if you remember to drink the water you probably don’t need to 🙂

  2. BostonKnucklehead.com

    I think hangover cures are specific to each person. I know some people drink a glass of milk before the go to bed drunk so it coats their stomach. tried that once won’t do it again. Personally I think if you eat a bunch of horrible for you food the night before you will feel much better in the morning. It has always worked for me.


  3. Eric

    Yes you really want to drink a lot of water while your drinking and before you go to bed. I also tried this natural hangover remedy from this site, it works very well. It got rid of a bad splitting headache I had after a night of heavy of drinking. The site was Hangover

  4. marco aurilio

    Thanks for the rounded view. Hangover cures come in two paradigms: prophylactic and acute treatment. Most alcohol consumers don’t begin drinking with the intention to reach the level at which a hangover occurs. Usually trial and error helps us all learn that limit from wretchedly powerful experience. I totally agree with the quality and blending of alcohols being a big factor in hangover outcomes.. Recently however on a well sourced suggestion i used dehydrated Nopal cactus powder (opuntia ficus-indica) for both hangover prevention and treatment. Wow …amazing….everyone to whom i have passed on this remedy, and has actually tried it was equally impressed. There is even some science behind it, in terms of hydration activity. 1-2 teaspoons in water , juice or whatever liquid you like, does the trick, and works best when taken before drinking begins. I have found it to also be effective, if i can remember just before bed and thankfully the morning after. I can’t imagine it doing much when you’re so hung-over that nothing stays down, which is best served with an IV, per my paramedic friend’s experience. The best deal on Good quality dehydrated Nopal is at http://www.nopalamerica.com.. They ship PRIORITY for free.

  5. ljclark

    Wow, thanks Marco! I’ll have to try this.

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