Hangovers have plagued humanity ever since we discovered alcohol. Many people think they have an idea about how to get rid of them, but a new study has shown that there’s no such thing as a hangover cure.
The whole thing starts with us going out to have a good time with friends and family, and ends with us complaining about headaches, nausea and fatigue. Some say that drinking water or having something to eat will help with these symptoms, but a group of researchers from Canada and the Netherlands say that that’s not the case.
On top of this, they’ve also proven that the whole hangover immunity that some people claim to have is nothing more than a myth.
To reach these conclusions, the research team talked with hundreds of students, asking them about what their drinking habits were and what their state was after spending a night drinking. The main questions related to how many alcoholic beverages each subject consumed in the month before the survey, the hours that each subject usually start drinking at, and the severity of their hangovers.
Looking at these answers, as well as the weight and the gender of each subject, helped the researchers build a model that allowed them to deduce what blood alcohol concentration each of the subjects had. This in turn made it possible for them to notice the differences between subjects who said that they experienced hangovers and those who said that they did not experienced hangovers.
The results? The subject without hangovers did not have some secret, magical cure that kept their head from pounding, they simply reported drinking less alcohol than the subjects who usually had hangovers after a night of drinking. Four fifths of the subjects in the first group had a blood alcohol concentration that was under 0.10 percent (0.10%).
Joris Verster, assistant professor of pharmacology working at Utrecht University (the Netherlands) and lead author on the study, offered a statement saying that “In general, we found a pretty straight relationship: the more you drink, the more likely you are to get a hangover”.
He added that “The majority of those who in fact reported never having a hangover tended to drink less”, and proposed that these people may have had the habit of drinking “less than they themselves thought would lead to” hangovers.
Professor Verster and his colleagues then started testing whether or not drinking water or having something to eat does indeed affect one’s chances of experiencing a hangover.
The results showed that subjects who followed this advice actually showed a very slight improvement, but not enough to make any difference. Professor Verster concluded that the only way to stay away from a hangover “is to drink less alcohol”.
The idea that water helps cure hangovers may have come from the belief that dehydration may have something to do with the unpleasant state. But professor Verster says that it’s more than just dehydration, a person’s immune system also suffers when exposed to excessive alcohol consumption.
Dr. Howard Forman, medical director for the Addiction Consultation Services from Montefiore Medical Center (New York), offered a few thought of his own. He agreed that drinking water is pointless, but also mentioned that eating high-fat foods (like peanuts) while drinking slows down the rate of digestion, which means that alcohol is absorbed at a slower pace into the system and that people are able to drink more alcohol without reaching a blood alcohol concentration that leads to hangovers.
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