Ever since humans discovered the process of fermentation, we have been looking for the cure for the morning after. Many different remedies have been used over the years to overcome the symptoms of hangover. A hangover is caused by a combination of acetaldehyde (the toxic byproduct of alcohol metabolism), dehydration and a depletion of vitamin A, B (B6 in particular) and C, thanks to the chemical action of alcohol in the body. So, any remedy adopted should work in contradiction to this action. Here are our six best remedies. Feel free to use anyone you like.
1. The Bloody Mary
The hands-down best “hair of the dog” remedy you can choose – so long as you limit your consumption to one. Simple to make, the Bloody Mary requires no shaking (though a trembling hand will agitate it just fine) and no fancy accoutrements save for a stick of celery. Combine 2 oz. of vodka, 6 oz. of tomato juice, 4 tsp of Worcestershire sauce and a few drops of Tabasco sauce in a glass and stir with the celery. Sip slowly. Eat the celery, if you and your stomach are on speaking terms.
2. Milk thistle
This herb has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for a variety of ailments, especially liver problems. And when you are hungover your liver has big problems. Milk thistle, however, is the least masculine hangover cure, if that sort of thing is important to you. It is easy to picture Earnest Hemingway downing a Bloody Mary with F. Scott Fitzgerald after a night of riotous consumption. (“Set ’em up again, Fitz. And this time make it a double, dammit!”) Not so easy to picture him downing gluten-free milk thistle caplets.
This ancient root is renowned for its anti-nausea qualities. In fact, seasickness-prone sailors have been using ginger for centuries to help keep their food in the gut locker. (More recently, it has been distributed to fans at Céline Dion concerts.) You can purchase ginger at your local health food store (either in the form nature intended or already ground in caplets) or look for it in over-the-counter nausea medications at your pharmacy.
The remedy of choice for caffeine addicts around the world, coffee can provide short-term relief for the carpenters in your head, but overall it is a poor beverage selection. One of the reasons you feel like death warmed over when you are hungover is because your body is dehydrated. Caffeine is a diuretic. Do the math. Still, there is something about holding a hot cup of Joe while you figure out, if a cab or a cop car brought you home last night that feels so right.
You need lots of it. Better yet, trade water for Gatorade (may Adam Sandler forgive us) or Powerade or whatever “ade” is popular this week. Sports drinks are packed with vitamins and minerals that will help restore your skewed electrolyte balance. And it’s not like you will be needing sports drinks for things like sports. Might as well put the case you bought to support your ill-fated New Year’s fitness resolution to good use.
6. The big, greasy breakfast
This remedy is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, but it is probably the best cure for what ails you, if you can keep it down. Load up on eggs, sausages, onions and peppers and you will also load up on cysteine, an amino acid that helps detoxify harmful substances in the body. You need to add stewed tomatoes, fried mushrooms and baked beans and you will be as right as rain in no time. Or dashing to the bathroom to empty the gut locker.