My Aching Kidneys

Excess does not usually get the better of me.  But leave it to a delightfully sinister combination of warm springtime weather, a local beer garden, and several liters of cold Paulaner pilsner to leave my body weak and my head aching.  Drinking on a Sunday is never a good idea because Monday morning hangovers are a singularly awful way to start the work week.

With the discovery of booze came the necessity to remedy both mind and body the following day.  In the thousands of years since, the search for the best hangover cure has never ended.  Speak to 10 drinkers and you’ll get 10 different opinions on what works best.  Once, homemade elixirs and anecdotal remedies were the norm; now, science has been recruited in the fight against that dreadful day after feeling.

Recently, The Atlantic’s Wayne Curtis took a historical look at numerous folk remedies to cure hangovers, which have been much more prevalent than scientific research into the self-inflicted condition.  Curtis reports “one survey found that of some 4,700 medical papers published since 1965 on alcohol intoxication, a mere 108 dealt with hangovers.”  On the other hand, folk remedies have been around forever.  Early Greeks “suggested wrapping your head in cabbage leaves” and consuming owl eggs, while modern Europeans propose “the rollmop, a pickle rolled up taco-style in a herring filet.”  One of my favorites is hair of the dog, “the counter­intuitive use of alcohol to treat a hangover…so named after an antique and charming belief that one can avoid rabies by applying to a dog bite some hair snipped from the offending cur.”

Science has not been completely absent, it turns out.  Gawker’s Max Read penned good news for those of us who have imbibed excessively, appropriately titled, Science Has Found the Best Way to Cure Your Hangover.  What is this elusive remedy, you might ask?  Simply coffee and aspirin, according Thomas Jefferson University professor Dr. Michael Oshinsky.  According to the professor, “our results suggest that dehydration or impurities in alcohol are not responsible for hangover headache.”

Might Dr. Oshinsky’s research run the greasy-spoon diner industry out of business?  No more breakfasts of bacon, eggs, and Bloody Marys?  From where I’m sitting (where the lights are dimmed and loud noise is scowled upon), I’m guessing not.  Because a late morning breakfast is part of the drinking experience, a curing ritual allowing friends to reconvene, feast, and reconstruct the previous night’s exploits.

Unfortunately, when such a meal is impossible – say, because of work on a Monday morning – coffee and aspirin will have to do.  Effective, yes; but never enjoyable.

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 10:45 am  Comments (8)  
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  1. Yo THF!

    I have pondered the Sunday drinking dilemma on numerous occasions. Is it (a) a great way to end the weekend or (b) a bad way to start the work week? Since the local bars are much more tolerable, i.e. less crowded and you’re able to grab a seat at the actual bar, I tend to go with (a) when invited out for drinks on a Sunday night.

    As far as the hangover cures go, I tend to go with my usual breakfast of OJ, yogurt, and coffee, and supplement it with a banana, ibuprofen, and if my stomach can handle it, toast with butter and jam. That usually perks me back up.


  2. Definitely a good end to the weekend.

  3. Actually using fruit to cure a hangover is a double edged sword. Fructose (fruit sugar) speeds up the body’s metabolism of alcohol, but it also increases the production of the metabolite acetaldehyde that causes you to feel hungover. So you recover faster, but you get sicker…

    • I once decided to have some cheese and watermelon after a Sunday night Single Malt session with the other Booze Dancers. Not a good idea. I shall say no more. 😦

  4. What I have learned over time is that for me, a good greasy meal BEFORE bed is key to not wasting the entire next day wallowing in my misery. If I skip that important step, I might as well just forget about it!

    • Agreed Mrs. THF! Nothing like a dIner run after a fun filled night of drinking. Some sort of egg sandwich or an omelette with home fries works best. And don’t forget the rye toast… with extra butter! And the coffee. Gotta have coffee.

  5. Many a drunken night has ended with a trip to Waffle House. I have no idea how anyone could eat it otherwise. Scattered, smothered, covered!

  6. Fatty food is the best thing you can do…it slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, decreasing the chance you get a hangover.

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