Dec. 31, 2001 -- What hangover cures pop into your throbbing
noggin on New Year's Day?
Some say burnt toast and a Mexican sausage called chorizo do
the trick. But just in case the quick fixes you tried last year didn't fix
anything, and you still plan to do some celebrating when 2002 arrives, 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 filter 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.
How about that chorizo? It's not a morning-after remedy -- more
like a late-afternoon-before preventive tactic. Cole Ramsey, also a former UCI
student, swears by its hangover-preventing powers and doesn't leave home
without some -- in his stomach, that is.
"It's fatty, and it sits in your stomach for like 12 hours.
For some reason, the hangover goes away," says Ramsey.
Schaefer explains: Fatty foods, if eaten before drinking
alcohol, "grease" the lining of the intestines. The alcohol then takes
longer to be absorbed by the body.
"Personally, I recommend eating pizza, but chorizo would
work too," Schaefer says. "In the Mediterranean, one folk remedy
involves swallowing a spoonful of olive oil to do the same trick."
Besides filling your stomach before you drink, eating almost
any kind of food the morning after can help alleviate a hangover, says
Stephanie Brooks, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant in San
Francisco. Food provides electrolytes that replenish the body after
dehydration. This is especially important for someone who's vomited within the
last 24 hours. Brooks particularly recommends a fruit smoothie or a sports