Curing your hangover with science

A valuable compendium of hangover treatments to guide you through Freshers’ term

Reader: welcome to a valuable compendium of hangover treatments to guide you through Freshers’ term. Read on if you would like to know how to balance the aftermath of Willow with convincing your tutor you are feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed.

To start with, dismiss the idea that there is an absolute cure for a hangover—science doesn’t have the answers for everything—but there are various ways of lessening the effects. Low blood sugar, dehydration, and the toxins that your liver processes are the three main factors that make you feel wobbly when you wake up, so targeting these will make you feel considerably better.

Playmobil people can consume a remarkable volume of alcohol considering their size

Playmobil people can consume a remarkable volume of alcohol considering their size Photo credit: Raul Hudson

Firstly, a long drink of water will do wonders. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it inhibits the hormone ADH that usually prevents you weeing out more water than necessary. As a result, alcohol makes you go to the loo much more often and leaves you feeling dehydrated and fluey the next morning. In an ideal world a glass before sleep will help you feel perkier when you wake up, but whether or not you manage this, drink bucket-loads the next day.

Alcohol also drains your body of vitamins, minerals and salts, partly because of all the dancing it makes you do and partly because you sweat and wee it out. So, whatever is in your mouldy uni cupboard will almost certainly help: orange juice, jaffa cakes, whatever – just eating something will replenish your body’s salt and sugar levels and give your liver that energy to shift all the toxins that have accumulated in it. Your housemate’s thoughtfully refrigerated Lucozade is an ideal candidate for replenishing salts and rehydrating.

“I’ve wrecked my liver” is a frighteningly accurate observation, often heard echoing its way down university hall corridors. The metabolic breakdown of alcohol in the liver from ethanol to ethanal to ethanoic acid takes a strain on your body. Because the last step is so slow, toxic ethanal builds up in the liver, which contributes to the overall daze of a hangover. Eating eggs, if you can stomach them, provides your body with cysteine, which is crucial in the metabolism of ethanal.

‘The hair of the dog that bit you’ is an aged remedy, from the school of ‘treat like with like’. For a while this works, more alcohol depresses the feeling of a hangover, but knocking back the nearest jug of Claret is only postponing the inevitable.

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