Dried bull penis anyone?
With Freshers' Week dawning and first year round the corner and heavy drinking looming on the horizon, The Glasgow Guardian has your back with a quick rundown of what might, and what definitely won’t, help your hangover. In the course of my research I’ve come across all sorts of remedies, from pickle juice to dried bull penis (why, Sicily, why?). An old Irish wives' tale recommends being buried in wet sand up to your neck. My personal favourite would be rubbing lime wedges under your armpit to prevent dehydration. The science behind it seems to be lacking but, if you have a very gullible friend I’d recommend they give it a try - it's one way to freshen up your evening. Now onto some more common hangover cures.
Sometimes, the best accompaniment to the room spinning is heart palpitations. Caffeine can also worsen a lot of the classic hangover symptoms like headaches and nausea. Many people swear coffee helps them sober up, but unfortunately time is the only thing that can actually do that. An hour per unit of alcohol after you stop drinking is a fairly good, although rough, guide for how long it takes your liver to process alcohol. Coffee can make you feel more alert, but so can the wet sand submersion.
The truth is that it matters more what you eat before than afterwards; a greasy burger the night before can lead to a slower absorption of alcohol but by the next day it’s too late. Having said that, there is something comforting about a cooked breakfast and many of the traditional hangover symptoms are actually caused by low blood sugar like dizziness, weakness and low mood. So a meal with lots of carbohydrates and proteins which release energy is not a bad idea, and it also replaces the salt and potassium you lose when you drink. On the other hand, 9 times out of 10 during the morning after, the thought of bacon is enough to have me retching over a plastic bowl. But good news! If greasy food is too much for your delicate stomach you'll be glad to know a banana and a slice of whole-wheat toast will do you just as much good. We all have our chosen next day refuelling strategies, like orange juice (which I find too acidic) and ginger tea to combat nausea.
Hair of the dog
The most worrying reason this might make you feel better is that it stops the hangover shakes and sweats which is actually a mild version of the withdrawal drug addicts go through. The other reason is alcohol's anaesthetising properties. Clumsy people like myself, who often wake up the day after a club night covered in bruises they've no idea how they got, will know that alcohol has a dulling effect while you are under the influence. However giving your body more alcohol to process this only lengthens your recovery so I would stick to the aspirin.
Sweat it out
The scientific evidence for this one is shaky at best, a sauna or a hot bath is likely to dehydrate you more if you are not vigilant and drink plenty of water. Having said that, a warm shower always makes me feel better regardless of the ailment. A light workout won’t sweat out the alcohol but it does release endorphins which can lift your mood.
At the end of the day, whatever you think works, works. The placebo effect is a powerful thing and a large component of hangover cures are psychological. Personally I have always been a fan of the glass of milk before bed strategy even though there is not much evidence for it. In Korea, your hangover cure comes in a can and can be purchased from a supermarket, an industry which is now worth 20 billion Won. If all the classic techniques and your own secret solutions fail you, then you could always try the Haitian Voodoo solution of stabbing 13 times the cork of the bottle responsible. I think if it’s a screw top you may be on your own.