"If you have a hangover — the dry mouth, nausea, dizziness and headache that result from overindulging in alcohol — it's too late to do very much to make yourself feel better. A lot of hangover remedies have been tried, but there's not much evidence they help."
THOSE AREN'T my words. They represent the considered opinion of the medical professionals at Mayo Clinic, who further recommend: "The best approach to hangovers is to avoid them by not overimbibing in the first place."
Rest, plenty of water, and over-the-counter pain medications are the nearest thing you'll find to a hangover "cure," doctors say. Even so, homespun remedies abound, some of them dating back hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
'Hair of the dog' hangover cures
Premised on the quaint notion that the best thing for what ails you is more of what ails you, "hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-you" nostrums have been popular since Shakespeare's time (before that, etymologists tell us, the phrase referred quite literally to a method of treating dog bites).
The Bloody Mary, invented during the Roaring Twenties, is still touted as the ideal morning-after pick-me-up. Another evil-sounding but reputedly effective concoction popularly believed to relieve the more painful symptoms of a hangover is called Black Velvet and consists of equal parts champagne and flat Guinness. Hemingway, it is said, relied on a morning-after tonic of tomato juice and beer.
Deep-fried canaries and sheep's lungs
I have a friend of Mexican descent who swears by menudo (boiled tripe) first thing in the morning. Fatty, high-calorie foods like menudo have long figured among the most popular homespun hangover cures. The ancient Romans ate deep-fried canaries, supposedly. The Greeks, we're told, sought relief by devouring sheep's lungs. Among the ancients generally, dining on boiled cabbage before a drinking binge was widely thought to be the best preventative. One prescription from the Medieval period touts the combination of eel and bitter almonds.
How's your appetite holding up?
Caveat potor ('drinker beware')
Fast-forwarding to modern times, peruse the list below for a sampling of the most popular hangover nostrums reported by members of the Urban Legends Forum:
- Tomato juice, aspirin and a long, hot shower
- Coffee made with tonic water, orange juice and honey
- Water, water, and more water
- Water and vitamin C (also, water and calcium)
- Water and vitamin B complex
- Vitamin E
- A "Red-Eye" — whiskey, coffee, Tabasco sauce, a raw egg, pepper and orange juice blended together
- Alternating between Pepto-Bismol and water
- Lots of icy-cold Coca Cola (not Diet Coke!)
- "Coating your stomach" before drinking with milk and/or bread and butter
- Vegemite on toast
- Vomiting before bedtime
If you've used, observed, or heard rumors of other alleged hangover cures, drop by the forum to prescribe and/or commiserate.