Hangover myths and proven cures

Photo courtesy: VCU Capital News Service

If you’ve ever had a few too many drinks you may be familiar with the next-day pain known as a hangover.

Wine, vodka, tequila… pick your poison, but pick wisely. Some drinks have worse after effects than others.

“Typically the darker the liquor the worst the hangover because of what’s called congeners,” explained Spencer Greene, Director of Medical Toxicology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Congeners, which come from the aging process, darkens the liquor in large amounts.

“The alcohols with fewer congeners include things like: vodka, gin, wine. And then some of the worst offenders are: whiskey, bourbon, scotch, brandi and cognac,” said Greene.

He said vodka, for example, has a fraction of the congeners that are in whiskey and tequila has almost twice that. “… and then some people will make margaritas not with tequila but with things like ever-clear 4430. There are famous restaurants that have the high potency margaritas that are made with grain alcohol and they can cause pretty profound inebriation and subsequently hangovers.”

There are things you can do to lessen these effects. Dr. Greene recommends drinking water in between drinks. In fact, he says water and Ibuprofen are the only proven cures for a hangover.

“And certain vitamin supplementation is known to help; if you take magnesium for example, or selenium. Some other things that show promise are prickly pear extract or milk thistle extract also seem to help.”

Dr. Greene says other hangover cures like caffeine and Vitamin C are old myths. “At one time people recommended raw eggs with Tabasco and salt and pepper, then in Germany they used to recommend goulash and pickled herring and personally I’d rather have the hangover then try that.”

He adds, avoid the hair of the dog, as it will just deaden your senses and prolong the inevitable.

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