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A Christmas present from me

By neilb@uk ·
Part of the wonderful celebration that is Christmas is the office party with its associated binge drinking. Now, binge drinking - as you're all old enough to know (better) - thrashes your liver and kidneys, gives you an upset stomach, a huge headache, a gross-tasting mouth and (if you're really stupid) guilt. The latter I can't help with but for the rest, help is at hand.
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As some of you know - those who've read my bio - I was once a biochemist. What follows is the scientific rationale for the symptoms of a hangover (except guilt) and the equally scientific treatment.
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Alcohol is a fairly clean substance and its only DIRECT effects are as a diuretic ? makes you pee more than you drink so dehydrates you. The main symptoms of your hangover are caused the toxic by-products of alcohol metabolism (breakdown) ? initially free radicals and then mainly a poisonous substance called acetaldehyde. Free radicals are usually mopped up by an enzyme called glutathione but a booze binge will deplete resources of this enzyme. Although hangovers eventually go away on their own as the acetaldehyde is further broken down we will try to do something to alleviate the effects. Research shows that the worst part of the hangover is thought to be the poisoning by acetaldehyde and this is then combined with dehydration, mineral depletion and Vitamin A, B and C depletion.
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This makes you feel BAD.
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In addition, impurities called congeners poison you. I'll use the common names. Ethyl alcohol gets you pissed; amyl, butyl, methyl, propyl and isopropyl alcohols - which are also found in most drinks to varying degrees - don't get you pissed and also make you feel bad. The concentration of congeners will go some way to determining the severity of the hangover. The "darker the drink - the worse the hangover" might be an old wives tale but, believe me, it is true. It's also worth taking on board that, generally, the "cheaper the drink - the worse the hangover" is also true. Choose your booze with care!
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Now, you are feeling WORSE!
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But what can I DO?
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Before you go out, do your very best to eat something. A marathon-runners meal of pasta, loading yourself with starches and minerals isn't going to happen but SOME food in your stomach will absorb some of the alcohol and even out the absorption once you do get stuck in. Hydrate your body. Chug some orange juice or water. Each glass you take at the beginning of the evening will be one less glass in the morning!
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Get the hangover cure ready before you go out. Your morning self will thank you so much.
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OK, so you've really tied one on so now we're going to do what we can BEFORE bed...
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Have a pee. Doesn't do much but just saves one trip to the bathroom. Drink as much as you can ? orange juice is preferable for the sugar (see below) ? but water will do and especially if you add a teaspoon of salt and two of sugar per pint. DO NOT take painkillers! Aspirin is not good on an empty stomach and Acetaminophen (UK = Paracetamol, US=Tylenol) is bad for the liver and should NOT be taken while you have a lot of alcohol in your system. If you have vitamin supplements, take some! If you have some Berocca (and I do! See below), for God?s sake take some! Go to bed.
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Now it?s the morning. This is NOT good! So, as many of these as you can cope with.
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What you're trying to do is put back stuff that you took out and get rid of stuff that you put in. The liver took most of the hit as it alone can metabolise alcohol and so it will do most of the work getting rid so it would like some fructose (fruit sugar) please. That's honey or buy some Fructose tablets from the chemist (or drugstore).
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Vitamin B6. You haven't got any? Tough. Send someone out but get some! Buy some now! In the UK there is a vitamin supplement called Berocca (made by Bayer and sold at Boots) which puts the vitamin B back in. It's drunk in a big glass of water which is also good for the dehydration. It is brilliant! It?s big in Oz as well but I don?t know if you American sorts can get it.
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One very useful substance if you need a clear head in the morning is N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), an amino acid supplement sold in health food stores. This is extremely good at mopping up the free radicals that have built up in the liver because it is rich in cysteine, an amino acid that is used by the body in the manufacture of free radical-eliminating glutathione.
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Normal Coca Cola is OK but decaff is preferred unless that is all you have. Diet isn?t much use as caffeine is a diuretic and so makes you pee more of that precious fluid away so it does less good than water. Coke is fizzy so it will settle the nausea if you can get it down, has water for the dehydration and sugar to raise your low blood sugar level and help the liver. If you have to have a caffeine hit then it may make you feel better but keep drinking other stuff as the effect of caffeine is not a good one.
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Tea is better than coffee. There are no bubbles to help ease the nausea but is liquid, chock full of anti-oxidants and the caffeine level is half that of coffee. Take black or green tea with honey even if you don't usually take sugar - as this is fructose and is absorbed quicker than normal sugar.
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The need for coffee is psychological. If you?ve got to have it, then have it - but fruit juice would be better!
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Breakfast! Something ? anything - in your stomach is good, and salty is even better AND you get a Vitamin top up. Fruit is good (for the fructose). Best of all, bananas which have sugar in the form of fructose, very high potassium (you peed a lot of that away last night), natural antacid to settle the nausea and high magnesium which can help relax your blood vessels and ease the headache.
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Apparently the best quick cure food is a peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich on white bread - washed down by decaffeinated Coke. If you can eat that then do you really have a hangover?
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Painkillers are OK in the morning ? whatever reduces the rocking of your boat.
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Vitamin C is something to put back in as soon as possible. Chug a litre of orange or tomato juice, take a 1000mg Vitamin C tablet, just get it down.
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A very hot bath - even better, a sauna - will sweat out some of the toxins that are causing all the problems. You may feel woozy at first but stick with it and you'll feel better afterwards. A hot shower targeted at the back of your neck will help to reduce tension headache.
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Now go back to bed. Last night was not sleep but was unconsciousness which isn?t the same. Call in sick. You ARE sick as any Doctor would tell you. You have been poisoned and the fact that is self-inflicted doesn?t change that.
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Merry Christmas
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Neil <img src="http://i98.photobucket.com/albums/l243/neilb_uk/Emoticons/smiley-faces-82.gif">

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Ahh hair of the dog option

by Oz_Media In reply to The most effective cure I ...

Always a good option if you are not back to work, or don't have a lot of work to do AT work.

Just make sure you don't roll off the couch to guzzle a stale beer off the coffee table and end up drinking the cigarrette butts dropped in it last night. Not that I have ever done that or anything....in many years anyhow.

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Never that desparate

by JamesRL In reply to Ahh hair of the dog optio ...

But in my university days we used to call warm beer and cold pizza the "breakfast of champions". But I never drank a beer I didn't open myself.

James

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The true "Breakfast of Champions"

by Tig2 In reply to Never that desparate

When I worked Ren Faire, it was Wheaties and Guinness. And after some of those nights, you needed it.

Not a beer drinker. Maybe that has saved me???

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Just picking up where I'd left off

by Oz_Media In reply to Never that desparate

ROlled over on the couch, looked at the table, saw what I thought was my beer froma few minutes ago and took a swig in dehydrated desparation. ICK!

Was quite a few years ago now, when I was still in mass party mode.

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You have to be careful with that sort of thing

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Never that desparate

Sometimes it tastes like stale beer, but it isn't.

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Second-hand beer

by neilb@uk In reply to You have to be careful wi ...

Pre-owned.

Doesn't improve it in any way...

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neil, what do you

by Jaqui In reply to Second-hand beer

think they sell in the US?
anything with that little flavour can't be anything but secondhand beer.

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A person who got drunk....

by onbliss In reply to A Christmas present from ...

...is s/he going to remember all that you said :-) ?

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Well,,,,

by neilb@uk In reply to A person who got drunk... ...

Some of the tips are what to do before you go out and that includes getting the hangover cure ready. If you go to bed too drunk to do anything, the hangover will be worse but at least you will welcome some (self)help in the morning.

Speaking as someone who has suffered hangovers in the past, I'll do ANYTHING the following morning.

Neil

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you know, even before

by Jaqui In reply to Well,,,,

I stopped drinking, I never got hangovers.

Though I have been sober the next day after a night out and gotten absolutely potted from water. I was so dehydrated that the booze needed water back into the system to have any effect. ]:)

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