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Health & Balance

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Hangover Helpers

Find out what helps you feel better when you've had one too many

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

What hangover cures pop into your throbbing noggin after a night on the town?

Some say burnt toast and a Mexican sausage called chorizo do the trick. But just in case the quick fixes you tried last time didn't fix anything, and you still plan to do more celebrating in the future, we've assembled some home remedies that helped some of us get through college.

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But first, here is the official word on what that booze does to your system. Getting rid of the hangover really comes down to understanding how the body reacts to alcohol in the first place. Alcohol is a diuretic -- that is, it tends to increase urination, and therefore, dries you out, explains alcohol metabolism researcher James Schaefer, PhD, professor at the Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. Drinking plenty of water the morning after helps to compensate for the dehydration.

But that's not all that's going on. Impurities are added to alcoholic beverages during the distillation process, and these contribute to the nasty stomachache you get with your hangover. These impurities are especially high in sweeter drinks and malt liquors. Drinking lots of water, then, does two things: it rehydrates your body and dilutes the impurities left in your belly.

A Date for Carbon

When Brian Wakabayashi was at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), he always made burnt toast a part of his morning-after breakfast.

Schaefer has this explanation for why that helps: Carbon in the charred part of the toast filters the impurities. In fact, people who come into hospital emergency rooms with alcohol poisoning get a potent carbon slurry pumped into their stomachs for the same reason. The burnt toast is a much more moderate version of the same remedy.

A new hangover helper called "Chaser: Freedom From Hangovers" also contains vegetable carbon and there are claims it can help prevent a hangover by absorbing the elements in beer, wine, and spirits that cause hangovers.

But emergency room physician Ronald Charles, MD, says there isn't any science to back up the claims that you can target the hangover-causing elements in alcohol and block their absorption.

"I haven't seen any research that says 'these are the things in alcohol that cause headaches,'" says Charles, who is medical director of the Lyndon B. Johnson emergency department at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston.

Charles says alcohol is also rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and only stays in the stomach for a short time, which means it's unlikely much of it would be absorbed by an anti-hangover product.

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