How to beat a hangover

Forget hair of the dog. There are better ways to ease the pain of a night on the tiles, says Roger Dobson
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Cases of veisalgia will peak again this week. Symptoms include a range of physical, mental and psychological disturbances,such as headache, diarrhoea, trembling, fatigue, nausea, drowsiness, dry mouth, gastro-intestinal complaints, sweating and anxiety.

Also known as a hangover, veisalgia comes from the Norwegian word kveis (the uneasiness following debauchery) and algia (the Greek for pain), and it is estimated that 72 per cent of the population will have one at some time.

According to the Headache Institute, at Roosevelt Hospital, New York, hangovers usually occur in the morning after alcohol consumption, when the blood alcohol concentration is falling. Symptoms peak when the concentration is zero and may last for 24 hours.

There's no accepted cure for a hangover, other than abstinence, said a report by Indiana University School of Medicine, published in the British Medical Journal last week. But researchers have found strategies and potions that might work, at least some of the time.

* Choose your tipple with care. Darker alcoholic drinks contain congeners, which are the by-products of fermentation and which give it flavour, colour and aroma. Drinks with higher levels of cogeners, such as whisky, bourbon and red wine, are usually linked to hangover headaches.

* Eating greasy foods before drinking may help to slow or delay the absorption of alcohol.

* Eating honey and tomato juice, both rich in fructose, may allow the body to metabolise alcohol more effectively. Evidence shows that fructose will help your body burn the alcohol faster, say researchers at the University of Massachusetts.

* Caffeine may provide headache relief because of the way it constricts blood vessels.

* Extract of Indian figs taken five hours before drinking halves the chances of a severe hangover. According to researchers at Tulane University, in the US, it works as an anti-inflammatory, and the severity of the hangover may be related.

* Vitamin B6, which is found in foods such as porridge, reduced hangover symptoms by 50 per cent, according to the Veterans Affairs Medical Centre of the University of California.

* Onion soup can help. According to scientists at Pennsylvania University, it replaces salt and potassium reduced by drinking alcohol.

* An extract from the fruit of the Chinese evodia plant can reduce alcohol levels in the blood.

* Glutathione, a dietary supplement and antioxidant, has undergone clinical trials as a hangover remedy. Earlier reports found that it may lower the blood concentrations of chemicals associated with hangover symptoms.

* Drinking water will help. Dehydration from drinking alcohol results in higher blood levels of compounds associated with hangover symptoms. Drinking water can dilute levels of those compounds.

* Drinking fluids with minerals and electrolytes can help to alleviate dehydration.

* Lemons may be the way to soothe hangover headaches, according to a report by the Real Jardín Botánico in Madrid.

* Tolfenamic acid, from the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug family that includes aspirin, may help. People who took it before going to sleep had less headache, nausea or vomiting, said a report by California University.