Wednesday 26 November 2014

I’ll drink to that...

A new hangover cure claims it can undo the damage of the night before in just 30 minutes. Too good to be true? Here’s an expert’s guide to morning-after remedies – from the hair of the dog to pure oxygen

It's the morning after the night before. You wake up to a crashing headache, a dry mouth and you feel desperately queasy.

Once more you swear that you'll never, ever drink again.

But relax – help is at hand.

Last week, a new hangover cure, Hedstart, came onto the market claiming that it can undo the damage of the night - in 30 minutes flat.

“This drink contains a combination of vitamins, amino acids and carbohydrates which quickly alleviate the symptoms of a hangover,'' says Tim Lawson, director of Phytofoods which manufactures Hedstart.

Alcohol prevents the body from absorbing water.

Your brain then gets dehydrated and begins to shrink, stretching it away from the inside of your skull. Cue that piercing headache – and the desperate search for the ultimate hangover cure.

Irish medical professionals are critical of such hangover cures, however. Dr Colin O'Gara, consultant psychiatrist with the Department of Alcohol Abuse at St John Of God's in Dublin says: “Alcohol abuse is a huge problem in Ireland and it is increasing at an alarming rate.

“A hangover is a warning. It is your body telling you that the alcohol you are drinking is damaging your body and your brain. It is telling you to stop drinking.”

But if this advice is too late, what are the hangover cures that work?

Hair of the dog

The Scots invented this cure. It's based on the belief that the hair of the dog that bit you, when applied to the wound, acts to prevent a infection. So the hangover cure goes that if you are drunk from the night and you go out and start drinking again in the morning, all will be well.

“Alcohol causes the kidneys to stop reabsorbing water, sending it straight to the bladder instead,” says Dr O'Gara.

“This hangover cure, the ‘hair of the dog’, means that you are only putting more pressure on your kidneys and liver. Also this theory is great for the alcoholic. It means that they can keep drinking, day in day out.”

After a fastfood dinner and four hours spent slugging spirits, the volunteers at the university found their symptoms – nausea, dry mouth and appetite-loss – were markedly improved by the cactus extract, compared with the poor fools who had been given a placebo.

But before you rush off to the desert and pick a prickly pear, do note that the researchers were adamant that the extract was not powerful enough to allow people to booze with impunity, and only reduced symptoms by approximately one-fifth.



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