I’m sure many of you stumbled onto this holy grail of an article in the hope of finding a go-to-remedy for a horrible hangover. Well, not to disappoint, I hope to help with a common problem many of us students face.
After a long night of hanging out with friends and drinking, I’m sure many of you have received a souvenir of the night before: a headache. To explain what remedy should be used to cure a hangover, it is important to learn what happens when you consume alcohol.
Chemically speaking, there are many types of alcohol, but the one in question is ethanol—the one you are familiar with. Ethanol is comprised of a two-carbon alkyl chain with a hydride group attached to the end. Because of its characteristics, it is soluble in both fat and water. Ethanol is absorbed in the bloodstream and passed to the brain. The brain, in general, is made primarily of fat, and molecules easily diffuse through barriers, which most chemicals cannot. Included in the brain are glutamate and GABA receptors that can bind molecules of ethanol, which account for slow reactions, slurred speech, and memory loss. When it binds, it disrupts the normal flow of signals. Ethanol also stimulates the production of dopamine and endorphins, giving you a feeling of pleasure.
One proposed hangover remedy that is popular in the science community is the “hair of the dog” technique. It comes from the age-old idea that if you continue to drink, you won’t feel the effects of a hangover. So next time you are feeling sick, it is a good idea to crack open another brewski. There is a method of doing this. There is a simple and direct relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and the duration of its effects. Smaller quantities of alcohol correspond to proportionally shorter periods of drunkenness followed by shorter hangovers. So in theory one could drink more to mask the effects, but symptoms are only relieved for the time being. You should proportionally wean down the amount of alcohol consumed over time.
Preventative measures can also be taken. Before you’re stumbling home drunk it might be helpful to stuff your face with some good ol’ fashioned fast food and chug some high quality H2O. Food helps absorb alcohol as well as introduce sodium and potassium, which are key electrolytes imperative to normal bodily functions. Foods with high sodium content, such as fries, help absorb water. Rumor has it that double cheeseburgers work the best.
So next time you are out and need a release, you may want to consider eating a meal before pounding back all those beers. The ultimate prevention of a hangover, however, is to not drink at all. As in science, nothing is ever proven, and this method is not guaranteed but may be worth a try. If it doesn’t work, you’ll still be in the same place you were before: miserable and hung-over.
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