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The Hangover: Remedies from Around the World

We all know that the best way to prevent a hangover is, of course, not to drink. But what if you’ve already started drinking? Don’t panic! We’re here to help a friend slow his or her roll before downing the rest of that seemingly blinding pleasure of confidence. And also help provide the reader with a fun list of unique ways to treat a hangover.

First of all, remember that not everyone experiences hangovers, and if you think you’re a person who already has and may again experience the pain and awfulness of a weary head and loss of memory from the drink, here are some things to consider.

Is this your ‘first night out on the town’ in a while?
Is your vision cloudy, or are you falling over?
Have you experienced a hangover before?
Are you forgetting to drink water?
Are you sure you want to take another shot?

If you’ve said yes to any of these, chances are that you could experience a hangover the next day. It is important to understand that a hangover is caused by several factors all relating to dehydration in the body. Dehydration and other hangover symptoms can be a result of consuming too much alcohol, the body’s ability to break down the alcohol, mixing alcohols, and not having enough rest. A person who is hung-over will experience headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, weakness and fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, persons with a hangover may experience feelings of shame and regret, and also moodiness 1. For those who enjoy drinking but would like to escape the horrors of a hangover, here are some key things to look out for when partying in any area of the world.

  • Be mindful of whom you’re drinking with, who is buying your drinks, and if any one is willing to be your designated driver.
  •  Drink lots and lots of water! Keep your body hydrated and well fed before and even during your drinking adventures. Remember that consuming a lot of alcohol will lead to a lot of trips to the restroom. Urination and even defecation depletes the body of hydration, which leads to further dehydration.  Drinking alcohol can also lower your blood sugar levels, which will in turn cause shakiness, tiredness, and weakness, so make sure you’re eating something 1. Having a healthy or even greasy meal at night before going out is okay too; the greasy food will help act as a lining for your liver and intestines. However, the myth that greasy food is good for your morning hangover instead, is false. The grease will actually irritate your liver, and may cause you to want to throw up.
  • Figure out what you’re drinking, and stick to that. It’s advised to not switch back and forth between beer and liquor, or even liquor to different liquor. Your liver cannot handle that. Your liver also has a difficult time breaking down some types of alcohol over others, like those that contain congeners. Congeners contain esters and aldehydes, which give drinks distinctive colors and flavors.  Congeners that give drinks a dark color, such as red wines or whiskey and bourbons, may exaggerate the effects of a hangover. Another type of drink that can lead to a devastating headache and weary head is the cheap one. Cheap liquor has its price for a reason: the impurities are not as well distilled as its top-shelf cousins. Overall, all alcohols contain ethanol which causes headaches, a dry mouth, and tiredness.
  • Know what you’re doing the next day. Do you have to be at work early? Are you meeting your boyfriend’s mother for the first time? Do you have to drive your Grandma across the state? Will you have the day off to sleep in? Knowing if you have a lot to do the next day may help you sway your mind from having another drink which would help you avoid an awful experience which includes bloodshot eyes and muscle aches.
  • Get as much rest as you can! Your body works best to fight off impurities and is able to best heal itself back to normal when you are at rest and lying down.

If you still have a hangover the next day… don’t worry. All you need to do is:

  • Drink more water, fluids, and even fruit juice to rehydrate and replenish your body. Beverages such as Gatorade help add electrolytes and salts (which contain more water) to your body.
  • Raise your blood sugar levels by eating bread and crackers to metabolize the alcohol in your stomach. Your liver will be working hard to break down the ethanol contained in alcohol and is not then able to produce the proper amount of glucose your body needs. This is where bread can save the day.
  • Eat eggs, because they contain cysteine, an amino acid that helps to break down acetaldehyde and other toxins in your body that come from consuming alcohol.
  • Eat fresh vegetables, such as asparagus and green beans.

If you still have a hangover… reconsider:

  • Taking aspirin in the morning if you are experiencing a hangover, not before bed. The aspirin’s effects will wear off before the morning, and you will still have a hangover. Plus, you should never, ever mix medicine with alcohol, as when mixed together, as they play a very dangerous role in inflaming and damaging your liver and stomach. Also, aspirins and ibuprofens such as Advil and Motrin work better for your hangover versus acetaminophens such as Tylenol or Excedrin.
  • Having another drink. Some people of European countries and even American college students will swear that “The Hair of the Dog that Nipped them” or another drink, will help their hangover. In reality, you’d only be softening or mellowing that initial nausea feeling, but adding on extra work to your body. It takes any where from 8 to 24 hours to get over a hangover.
  • Indulging in too much black coffee. The caffeine may temporarily reduce your headache, but the natural diuretic will leave you dehydrated.

So, there you have some new insight for if you wake up with a hangover and would like to be rid of it faster. If you happen to be traveling in another country and need a hangover remedy or are simply willing to try something very unique and different, here are some exciting, outside-of-the-box remedies:

Eastern Europeans, people from Turkey, Mexico, and even downtown Manhattan all call for tripe soup. Tripe soup is a combination of the digestive linings of pigs, cows, and even goats, peppers, spices, salt, and broth. This special soup contains the fatty acids and proteins needed to replenish the hung-over person, also adds heat to help raise the blood pressure levels, and get the blood to start working again 2.

Both Koreans and the Japanese pull towards more natural foods, fermented soups and broths to help heal the hung-over. Some of these include potato soup, vegetable soup, and seafood soup. All of the soups and broths contain a lot of salts, which help replenish the body with water. Umeboshi is a Japanese fruit, which compares to both an apricot and a plum. The fruit is pickled and then dried. It tastes very sour and salty, but it is believed to help the body heal and also promotes “slow aging” 2.

Germans, Russian, and Mongolians also love to indulge in pickled meals the day after a long night of drinking. Many residents of Germany enjoy pickled vegetables wrapped in raw herring, called rollmops. Russians enjoys salty broths, pickled vegetables, and even sugary lemons with ground coffee on top. Mongolia takes the win with tomato juice and pickled sheep eyes. Because the majority of individuals living in Mongolia are lactose intolerant, they also partake in drinking fermented milk when hung-over. Another milk cure is preferred in Scotland. They drink hot buttermilk with salt and pepper and corn flour, as they believe that lactose helps raise blood sugar levels 2.

Back in the old days, things were a little more interesting… it is said that Ancient Grecians and Romans would fry a small bird and consume the entire thing. Their neighbors in Sicily would consume dried bull penises for the proteins, which were later used in the culture to make canes for the walking impaired 2.

Here in the United States, people tend to go anything they can get their hands on, even greasy foods and ‘the Hair of the Dog’. One dish that is quite radical is known as the Prairie Oyster. It contains raw eggs, oysters, Tabasco and Worchester sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper and the spirit is optional. If you can down it fast enough, the eggs will provide your body with the essential amino acid cysteine to break down any acetaldehyde and toxins 2.

Overall, no matter what culture or place in the world you come from, it seems that the world’s best cures include preparation, water, salt, and rest. All in all, we can conclude that the overall best hangover cure is time itself.

 

 

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Written by Rachael Bogdans

I am a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University where I studied Film/Video and Anthropology. My goal is to serve the world with communication of and about other cultures; the many different practices, alternatives to cooking and medicine, and to enlighten those who may have suffered from xenophobia.

There are 4 comments

  • Mathew Nolan says:

    California, USA: eat a giant greasy burrito from a local and cheap Mexican place. The more rundown looking the better. Preferably a California Burrito.

  • krisjoseph says:

    I still think there is no way to CURE a hangover, i think it’s poison trying to get out of your system but the older you get the worse the hangover, I think if you really want to shake a hangover, you need to wake up and go for a crazy run… sweat like crazy. It’ll hurt for a while but you can relieve yourself of feeling ill. great article!

  • I’m a big believer n the “greasy food” cure… pizza helps. But in Korea, I always liked yukgaejang or jook. Ever noticed how there was always a jook restaurant near hospitals in Korea? There’s a reason for that.

  • 桑凯丽 says:

    Not sure if I’d be thrilled about the prospect of downing a Prairie Oyster after a night of drinking, but the science behind hangover eggs is tempting…

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