Hangover cures…

There’s a reason this blog is called Accidental Scientist. I originally started it up to post things I’d discovered about life, the universe and everything else… but especially about the things that I like to call “stupid human tricks”. So without further ado, it’s time to get stuck in with the first little tidbit that I’ve found so far…

How to cure a hangover

As I’ve gotten older (and I hear that most people are like this), I’ve had more and more hangovers after a night on the town. Admittedly, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started drinking a hell of a lot more (stress will do that to you), but that’s beside the point. Some hangovers have been so bad that they’ve completely taken away my Sundays from me – as I’ve spent them wandering around in a daze going, well, ouch.

No longer. I think I finally figured out the perfect hangover cure.

You will need:

  • Two eggs
  • A bottle of gatorade
  • Eyedrops (preferably just natural tears – Genteal are pretty good)
  • Water
  • Caffeine, aspirin and ibuprofen (not acetaminophen or paracetamol)
  • Two multivitamin tablets.

NOTE: I am not a doctor, nor am I pretending to be one. This advice could help you, it could kill you, or it could turn you bright blue. I honestly don’t know. Follow it at your own risk.

Here’s how you use the ingredients.

Water

Drink this before you go to bed – as much as you can manage. Drink it while you’re drinking, and it’ll help too. But drink as much as you can – alcohol dehydrates you, and your liver and kidneys work much better at getting rid of toxins when they have water to work with. Drinking water is your first line of defence against a hangover.

Gatorade

You drink this the next day. It’s basically sugar water, with electrolytes to rebalance your system a bit (because when you get dehydrated with alcohol, you’re peeing out most of the salt in your system, and as your body is basically a large bag of salt water, you really need to replace it).

It’s the best and easiest way to get fluid into your system, and has its own handy-dandy built in automatic rehydration indicator – if it tastes good, you need to drink more of it. Once it starts tasting unappealing, you’ve had enough – you’re rehydrated. Sneaky, huh?

Eggs

Boiled, fried, poached, whatever. You just need them. You can try eating them the night before if you can stomach them – but that will depend on how drunk you are. (And cooking when drunk, like driving when drunk, is a recipe for disaster).

Eggs help a hangover in two ways. Firstly, and most importantly, they’re one of the most nutritious sources of cholesterol you can get.

Yes, that’s right, cholesterol. You know that thing that doctors tell you is bad for you? Welllll… you see, there’s another side to that argument. Cholesterol is bad – when it’s clogging your arteries. When you’re drunk, however, it’s a whole other story. You see, your liver runs pretty much exclusively on cholesterol, and it burns fat to metabolize alcohol. This is why, among other things, doctors now say that drinking will lower your cholesterol (it does – because your liver kicks it up a gear). It’s also why hardened Russian vodka drinkers will eat very fatty foods while they drink – because it helps them metabolize the alcohol.

If you’ve ever wanted to drink someone under the table, eat a lot of eggs. Or other similarly high-fat foods. And keep eating them while you drink. You’ll be able to carry on (relatively sober) while they slowly slip into oblivion…

Eggs don’t just contain fat, they contain plenty of incredibly bio-available protein. Your body loves eggs – in fact, some people claim that eggs contain about the easiest protein for your body to digest.

Protein’s really good when you have a hangover, because protein is broken down into amino acids in your body, and amino acids are used to build neurotransmitters – which you screwed up by drinking. Alcohol makes your body dump norepinephrine and dopamine into your system, rapidly depleting your supply (the lack of norepinephrine, by the way, is why you snore more when you’ve been drinking than when you’re not… and if you don’t naturally build your supplies back up fast it also can cause anxiety days afterwards). So if you really want to feel happy, you’re going to need to replenish those guys – and eggs (and sardines – but let’s face it, who can eat sardines with a hangover?) are probably one of the best ways of doing it short of spooning down one of those muscle-building amino acid gloopy concotions you can buy at the gym.

Alcohol, in case you’re wondering, also screws with about 100 other neurotransmitters. Which is why you shouldn’t drink if you’re on any kind of psychoactive medication.

Eggs also contain vitamin C and B12, both of which are water soluble vitamins, which means that when you spent all that time the night before peeing your hard earned cash down the drain, you lost a lot of those too. You need to replenish them – and eggs are a great way to do this.

Eyedrops

Why eyedrops? Well, do you remember the film Withnail and I? Where Withnail says that he has “a real bastard behind the eyes”?

Nine times out of ten, the worst part of your hangover is caused simply by the fact that your eyes are dry. No, really. They’re about the first thing to dehydrate in your entire body, other than possibly your T-zone.

The thing about eyes is that they’re not exactly good at reporting problems to your brain. They have pain sensors, and touch sensors, but they’re pretty lousy at what they do (and spread pretty far apart, so they’re not that accurate). Not only that, but until you train yourself to recognize the difference between a real (vascular) headache and the pain that comes from dry eyes, you won’t even figure out that the pain you’re feeling is really in your eyes – because it feels like a band of pain behind your eyes, or across the front of your head.

Sure, sounds like a bad design, but it’s like that because your eyes are busy doing other things – like seeing things – so nature skimped a bit on the pain receptor part. Either way, the pain that you get from a hangover is mainly this pain from your eyes. Try to visualize it next time you have a hangover, and the lightbulb will suddenly go on. By the way, when your eyes are in pain, they have an amazing ability to make you feel tired. It’s automatic – nature’s way of protecting them is to get you to shut them, and the easiest way to do this is to make you feel tired and go to sleep. It’s half of why you feel like a slug after a night on the town. (The other half is probably real sleep deprivation).

How do you fix this? Really easy. Apply eyedrops frequently (once every 10 minutes or so) to each eye, until you’ve drunk enough Gatorade that it stops being a problem. Genteal are recommended by my eye doctor because they’re preservative free in the eye. (And he’s a great eye doctor – one of the best I’ve ever been to – if not the best).

Multivitamin tablets

As I said earlier, you pee out a good portion of all of the water soluble vitamins in your body when you’re on a bender. Take one before you go to bed (if you can stomach it), and one in the morning when you get up (again, if you can stomach it – you might need to take it after eating the eggs) to replenish your system’s supply.

Caffeine, Aspirin and Ibuprofen

In cases where the hangover’s not too bad, you can skip the caffeine, aspirin and ibuprofen. (I skip the caffeine most times myself). However, if the other tips just won’t shift it, aspirin, ibuprofen and caffeine will help. This cocktail is basically a version of Excedrin which swaps liver damage for stomach bleeding – frankly, I prefer to have a internal bleeding than risk shutting down my liver – and as Excedrin uses Acetaminophen/Paracetamol instead of Ibuprofen, it’s a bit too risky to take after drinking.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a vasodilator – it opens up the blood vessels in your head. These blood vessels can constrict while drinking, causing a vascular headache (this is a true headache, unlike the eye-pain I mentioned above) – and the caffeine cures that. It’ll also give you a bit of a buzz and perk you up – but I avoid it if I have a hangover – it just makes me feel weird and almost hollow, like I’m not really there. It’s also a diuretic, which isn’t exactly productive when you’re already dehydrated.

Aspirin

Aspirin’s an old folk remedy made good – people realized that taking willow bark made people feel better when they had a headache. Enter chemistry, and pharmaceuticals, and whaddya know, we have the refined version. It’s mainly an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent, shutting down production of pain transmitting chemicals in the body. Helps me anyway.

If you’re taking aspirin, make sure you take the enteric coated ones, to avoid stomach problems.

Ibuprofen

Another anti-inflammatory/analgesic, but it appears to work on different pathways, and at least for me, will shift headaches that aspirin (or acetaminophen) cannot. It can cause stomach problems, so try to go for coated tablets.

What if all this doesn’t work?

Well… either pray, or try more eggs and Gatorade. There’s a reason people go to Beth’s (home of the 12 egg omelette) in Seattle after a night on the town, you know…

[edit: Added the real Other reason for eggs than fat, which is protein. I missed it last time by accident – and believe me, while vitamins C and B12 are good for ya, the lack of them doesn’t really make you feel that bad. Not on that time scale anyway]

[edit: fixed a badly structured sentence which made it look like I was saying that caffeine caused vascular headaches, not cured them]

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About Simon Cooke

Simon Cooke is a video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film maker and all-round good egg in Seattle, WA. He has to leave this info here, even though it's elsewhere in his blog, because Google needs it to tie his author information to his profile. Sigh.
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20 Responses to Hangover cures…

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think you have no idea about caffein, it is never caused any headache even treat them.

  2. Simon Cooke says:

    Sorry – that was a typo on my part; it was meant to say “curing”, not “causing”. I’ll fix it soon :)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Caffeine is a vasoCONSTRICTOR, not a vasodilator. Alcohol is a vasodilator, which is why caffeine can relieve headaches… it constricts those huge blood vessels in your head

  4. Anonymous says:

    My main problem is the eye pain ater a good booze sesseion ( headache and stomach discomfort I can live with :) ).Will try this and let you know if it works. Thanx anyway for the tips

  5. Anonymous says:

    You’re right about the eggs becuause cholesterol is one of the most important nutrients. This is not only the case when you’ve had too much to drink, it is all the time. As for the idea that cholesterol clogs up the arteries–that is totally wrong. Cholesterol is necessary as a precursor to all of the essential bodily functions. It is well-known that heart disease is associated with inflammation. That is because oxidative cell death from stress in all its forms produces inflammation. Inflammation then produces what is commonly known as cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol makes it possible to cope effectively with stress and saturated fats (not unsaturated fats) increase assimilation of anti oxidants, thereby lowering NOT raising the risk of heart disease. You commonly see people with high cholesterol when they need more cholesterol–either because of dietary dificiency or increased requirement such as having risk factors for heart disease. For example, frequent dieting, diabetes,and inherited risk for heart disease. That is why you often hear that when people restrict dietary cholesterol, their serum cholesterol goes up.

  6. Anonymous says:

    i searched eye pain after hangover and got this. wow. thank you.
    my eye pains have been getting worse and worse during my hangovers. I just assumed it was bright lights, smoke and contact lenses but glad to hear that i can moisten my eyeballs and maybe feel better.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I love the details in this blog entry. I had one too many drinks the other night….

  8. alex says:

    very detailed stuff

  9. Suzi says:

    I’m gonna give this a try next time!

  10. John says:

    I feel that it is very important to point out that Aspirin and Ibuprofen both belong to a group of medicines called NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) therefore should NOT be consumed together. Read the instructions of either and it will mention this.

  11. Brent says:

    Great advice and pretty funny too.

  12. Jesse says:

    Interesting article. I did’t realize the science behind the eggs. Intravenous isotonic saline solution is the best cure hands down. I am in no means a doctor but why can’t a sort of pill be made that has a similar effect.

    • Simon Cooke says:

      Sadly, the only real way to get the saline solution to work is to inject it. It just takes too long for anything you ingest to get into your colon to be sucked back into your system. Still, that really only helps with the dehydration part; it’s the other bits and pieces that are the real killer to a hangover.

  13. Lloyd says:

    Thank you for this article it was really interesting. I have a hangover right now, but I can handle the physical symptoms: it is the anxiety soaring through my brain I cannot handle. I can honestly say that it is terrifying. Any tips?

    • Simon Cooke says:

      The only ones I can think of are 100mg Niacin, an aspirin and 1000mg L-Tryptophan. That combo will give you more serotonin in your system. (take an antihistamine if it makes you itchy). Another alternative – if you don’t have blood pressure issues – is to try 500mg of tyrosine. A Red Bull may also help.

      As ever, I’m not a doctor, so be careful and consult a doctor before taking anything.

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  18. Ron says:

    Interesting. I have heard many of these before, but not the eye drops. For me a hangover consists of body aches and headache. I am pretty sure the headache is from the eyes, and the body ache is dehydration and I workout everyday so it hurts even more after a bender. I usually chug a good homemade juice in the morning so I skip the gatorade. Looks like I am headed out for an omelet and eye drops before I hit the gym. Thanks for this.

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