I am writing this blog on Saturday morning. Yesterday my housemates took me to the Norwich beer festival. We had a great time and I got to try a lot of English beers. Now, the morning after, I don’t feel as great as I did yesterday. So I was wondering: could nutrition relief hangover symptoms?
The alcohol hangover: the feeling of general misery the day after a night out. Most of us are familiar with this feeling. I am at least. Symptoms include headaches, tiredness, concentration problems, thirst, dizziness, nausea and mood swings. Doesn’t that sound great ;-).
These symptoms are caused by dehydration, lack of sleep, changes is signal molecules (hormones and cytokines) in your body and the general toxic effects of alcohol. Precise causes are still not known.
The only real solution is drinking less or not at all. Very logical, but not all of us want to do that. Time to look into other possible solutions!
Hangover cures from the Internet
The Internet gives hundreds of solutions for a hangover. My personal favourites are a full English breakfast, aspirin, fresh air, coffee and low intensity exercise.
Sleep deprivation is one of the causes of a hangover. Sleep quality goes down after drinking too much alcohol. Fresh air and coffee could help relief some symptoms caused by sleep deprivation. However, coffee can also temporarily increase your blood pressure and aggravate your headache. Additionally, coffee can irritate your stomach. Cautiousness with drinking coffee during a hangover is required.
Aspirin can relief your headache, but will not take away the general misery and can also irritate your stomach.
Are there scientifically proven cures for a hangover?
I looked into scientific articles about the alcohol hangover and there is no proven cure. Surprisingly little research has been conducted on this subject. Economical consequences of the alcohol hangover are substantial, only in Britain £2 billion per year. This is mainly due to sick leave. A severe enough problem to investigate one should think. The problem is that it is not considered ethically correct to investigate hangover cures. It could possibly encourage people to drink more if they don’t experience the “punishment” of a hangover.
However, most people do not seem to learn a lot from this “punishment”. In a research among American college students they showed that the students over estimated the amount of alcohol they could consume before they lost control. They also overestimated the amount of alcohol that would give them a hangover.
Research that has been done is about the effects of a variety of supplement on the severity of a hangover. Unfortunately, none of the supplements seemed to have effects when they were compared to placebos. There is no magic pill.
What do I do?
When I have a hangover I usually feel better after a hearty breakfast, a shower, coffee and some fresh air. While I am typing this I am eating my hearty breakfast: eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and bread. With a cup of tea for now, but I am sure that I will be drinking some coffee later today. After that I am cycling into the city centre of Norwich. That will give me some fresh air and some low intensity exercise. These methods have not been scientifically proven at all. But with so little scientific knowledge about what would actually help, I am sticking to what I think works for me. Hopefully there will be more and better research on this subject soon! I’ll keep you posted..
- Wiese, J.G., M.G. Shlipak, and W.S. Browner, The alcohol hangover. Ann Intern Med, 2000. 132(11): p. 897-902.
- Verster, J.C., Editorial: The need for an effective hangover cure. Curr Drug Abuse Rev, 2012. 5(1): p. 1-2.
- Pittler, M.H., J.C. Verster, and E. Ernst, Interventions for preventing or treating alcohol hangover: systematic review of randomised controlled trials. BMJ, 2005. 331(7531): p. 1515-8.
- Mallett, K.A., et al., Do we learn from our mistakes? An examination of the impact of negative alcohol-related consequences on college students’ drinking patterns and perceptions. J Stud Alcohol, 2006. 67(2): p. 269-76.
- Howland, J., et al., The incidence and severity of hangover the morning after moderate alcohol intoxication. Addiction, 2008. 103(5): p. 758-65.