Drinking alcohol excessively leads to a plethora of consequences including head pounding, stomach churning hangovers. It’s your body’s way of telling you that you overdid it the night before. Some people who wake up with a splitting headache heed the lesson our bodies are teaching us. Yet, others look for ways to skip hangover school through some unconventional means.
Every culture that drinks has its own set of hangover remedies that are passed down from generation to generation, each one sure to “cure” what ails you. Unfortunately, like a lot of myths surrounding alcohol use, they may not hold much legitimacy. That’s right, your grandfather’s secret hangover-fix cocktail is probably just a gross drink.
Of course, you can treat the symptoms of a hangover with aspirin and seltzer water, but there is no real way to drink like there’s no tomorrow and not pay the consequences when tomorrow actually comes. But hangovers are more than head and tummy aches. They also come with cognitive and psychological symptoms, in addition to nausea, sweating, and headache. Hangovers can cause depression, anxiety, mental fog, drowsiness, and irritability.
One of the reasons there is no real hangover cure is that we barely understand what causes hangover biologically. There are some theories that exist including ones that have to do with hormonal changes, dehydration, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and many more. However, one thing is certain, the only way to avoid a hangover is to moderate drinking, and the only sure way to cure it is to wait for your body to return to normal.
Still, when your guts feel like a churning tempest on the open seas, you might get a little desperate to alleviate your distress. You may be willing to try some strange, unorthodox hangover cures to exercise the Ghost of Friday Night’s Past. Here are some of the weirdest ones:
5. Hair of the Dog
No, not literally. “Hair of the Dog” is the colloquial name for curing a hangover with more alcohol the morning after. The phrase comes from the old idea that you could cure rabies by placing hair from the rabid dog that bit you onto the wound. Drinking more alcohol to lessen the effects of a hangover is a common remedy, and it’s based on a theory that sounds relatively convincing.
One of the theorized causes of a hangover is that you are actually experiencing alcohol withdrawal. If that’s the case, it makes sense that weaning off of alcohol slowly would ease the withdrawal symptoms.
Why it Doesn’t Work
Withdrawal and hangover have a very different set of symptoms. Anyone who’s had a hangover knows that alcohol cravings (common in withdrawal) are the furthest thing from the mind of someone experiencing hangover nausea. In reality, alcohol may provide temporary relief but it will ultimately prolong your symptoms.
4. Prairie Oyster
A common American folk remedy for a hangover is called the Prairie Oyster. It is a contemptible cocktail consisting of a raw egg, tomato juice, hot sauce, vinegar, salt, black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. The egg is cracked into a glass or cup to keep the yolk intact. When the cocktail is consumed, the goal is to down the whole thing without breaking the yolk. The resulting texture is very reminiscent of an actual oyster.
This remedy is not without a little popular science to back it up. Fatty and salty food help replenish electrolytes that are lost because of alcohol’s interference with the antidiuretic hormone that regulates how much water you lose in sweat. Also, the toxic byproducts your body creates while processing alcohol is thought to cause many of the symptoms associated with a hangover. Supposedly, introducing other toxics like capsaicin (a chemical that makes spicy foods spicy) causes your body to slow down alcohol processing and toxic chemical production to deal with the new threat.
Why it Doesn’t Work
There is some merit to the salt and fatty food theory. Replenishing your water after you’ve become dehydrated can alleviate symptoms caused by dehydration like a headache. However, a breakfast of eggs (cooked) and bacon would probably do that job better than a small shot of a nausea-worsening concoction. The idea of adding toxins is the same as adding more alcohol. It may temporarily alleviate symptoms but will end up prolonging the process in the long run.
3. Buffalo Milk
Another mixed cocktail thought to be a hangover cure is called “Buffalo Milk.” It’s popularly used in Nambia, and even though buffalo milk is sometimes used for cheeses and dairy products around the world, this mixture does not contain any actual milk from a buffalo. Instead, it’s made up of clotted cream, dark rum, spiced rum, cream liqueur, and whole cream. This drink takes the theory of the Hair of the Dog to the limit, in a heaping helping. Both the booze and the fatty cream distracts the processes that may cause some symptoms.
Why it Doesn’t Work
Again, the alcohol and fat may relieve symptoms for a while, until they come back with a vengeance. Plus, all that dairy can’t be good for an upset stomach.
In Haiti, some believe that hangovers are caused by malevolent spirits (no pun intended), and witch doctors prescribe a ritual to cast it out. Hangover sufferers make a voodoo doll out of the bottle of alcohol that was used to create the problem in the first place. Then 13 black pins are stuck into the bottle’s cork to expel the spirit. If you got drunk from a bottle with a screw top? Well, then you’re…well, screwed.
Why It Doesn’t Work
Malicious ghosts are very low on the list of accepted theoretical causes for a hangover.
1. Green Ant Tea
Like Haitians, indigenous Australians have taken the traditional “load up on more booze and fatty foods” and thrown it out the window for one hangover cure. They use a green ant tea made from green tree ants. This bushman’s trick involves grinding up dried ants and soaking them in hot water. The green tree ant is also used to treat headaches and colds unrelated to a hangover. Protein is another supposed key element in recovering from a hangover. Amino acids, which help to detoxify your liver, are produced when digesting protein, and the little arboreal denizens are full of it.
Why it Doesn’t Work
Eating and digesting protein may have marginal effects when it comes to helping your body process out the excess alcohol. But you are still going to feel symptoms for hours.
The Real Solution
The real solution to an uncomfortable hangover isn’t as exciting as voodoo or creamy booze. It’s plain old moderation or abstinence. You should eat a good breakfast and drink plenty of water to give your body the fuel it needs to purge itself of toxins. But the best thing you can do the morning after is to resolve to moderate in the future. Besides, too much excessive drinking can lead to worse effects than a headache. Long-term effects include liver and heart disease. If you are under 25, it can reduce cognitive ability.
Excessive drinking can also lead to alcoholism, a chronic disease affecting the brain and causing chemical dependence. If you believe that you’ve become dependent on alcohol it’s important to seek medical detox, as alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Call Arete Recovery now at 855-781-9939 to learn more about treatment options.