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Hangovers are not caused by dehydration as recent studies show. So you can just skip gobbling down those huge glasses of water before hitting the sack after a good ol’ night of boozing.
It is commonly thought that the severe headaches so typical for a real hangover are caused by the drying out of membranes that connect the brain to the skull.
Your brain would be touching your skull, hence the pain. If hydration plays no part this can be added to the section old wives tales.
The study showed that in dehydrated people with hangovers, levels of electrolytes don’t differ too much from baseline controls—and when they do, they don’t correlate with hangover severity.
In fact, most common wisdom about what cures those dreaded katzenjammers is wrong.
“What causes a hangover? Nobody really knows,” says epidemiologist Jonathan Howland. “And what can you do about it? Nobody knows.”
That is, until recently. New research cleared a few things up.
2. False: Liquor before beer never fear, beer before liquor never sicker.
There is a similar Dutch saying but then with wine and beer. Wine after beer is supposed to be okay, but drinking wine first is said to be a guarantee for next-morning misery.
Fact is that it does not matter in which order you drink. No particular order will save you from a hangover the next day. Nor will one order make you feel less sick than the other.
What’s more even switching between beer, wine, and liquor throughout the night won’t make a difference. So it’s okay to mix the grape and the grain, the only thing that counts is how much alcohol you drink.
3. Fact: Breezers and other sugary spirits worsen your hangover
High blood sugar is thought to play a part. Consuming ethanol with glucose turns out to raise your body’s lactate levels, and one study shows that the presence of lactate makes hangovers worse.
4. Fact: a breath analyzer can help you prevent a hangover (theoretically)
Provided that the breathometer is well calibrated and accurate you could, in theory, keep track of your promilage. Stop drinking if you almost reach the 0.10 percent. This could be your benchmark for hangover prevention.
Studies show that if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) comes above 0.10 percent you are likely to be hungover the next day. But of course, when the drinks start flowing who cares? Odds are you will say, one more I can handle.
5. Fact: Vodka induces less severe hangovers than whiskey
Are you a spirits drinker but are fed up with those awful hangovers? Do like the pros, drink vodka. Switching from red wine or whiskey to vodka seems to cause less suffering.
There does also seem to be some truth to the notion that vodka delivers less of a hangover than red wine or whiskey. A comparison of people who drank enough bourbon or vodka to get to between 0.1 and 0.15 BAC—which is superdrunk, by the way—showed that all of them got hangovers, but the bourbon drinkers reported theirs as significantly worse.
6. The real cause of hangovers
Researchers think hangovers are caused by an inflammatory response. A process similar to when we get an infection. This is actually good news because if this is true we can take anti-inflammatory drugs to cure the hangover.
That’s why the common practice of taking a few ibuprofen before getting in bed after the pub does make sense. So keep taking those pills only this time one glass of water will suffice.
7. A magical pill that cures hangovers exists
It may sound like BS but there actually is a pill that cures hangovers. It consists of a blend of a vitamin B6 analog called pyritinol, a migraine drug called Clotam, and an extract from the cactus pear (Opuntia ficus indica).
All of these “have reliably shown to help the symptoms of a hangover”. The hangover pill is available over the counter as BluCetin.
8. No matter how tipsy (or drunk) you are, soon we can get sober instantly
What if you could drink all night, sober up with a magical pill, and drive home all fresh and fruity? This may seem like science fiction but may become reality soon.
Another version of alcohol that gets you drunk without the nasty after effects and has an antidote that sobers you up immediately is in the works.
In theory it is possible to find a chemical with almost the same effects as alcohol but less side effects. The search for this chemical has been going on for decades. British psychiatrist David Nutt claims to have found it.
The former top drug policy adviser for the British government informs about:
experiments on chemical analogs to ethanol that deliver the same glorious buzz but with a crucial difference: There are antidotes that instantly restore sobriety.
Striking detail, (not necessarily in this context) the consultant was fired when he questioned the sense of strictly regulating pot and booze barely at all. Possibly his claims that alcohol is more dangerous than heroin and, in fact, the most harmful drug in the UK may have something to do with it.
Image: Dan Krajčovič
Image 2: Alvaro Canivell