The 'hair of the dog' could really be the best hangover cure, book says

One theory says hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning, not dehydration

The “hair of the dog” could really be the best hangover cure, according to a new book examining the science of alcohol.

Devotees of the bacon sandwich, rehydration solutions and painkillers may be surprised to learn that drinking more after a heavy night could provide more than just a renewed level of tipsiness to stave off the pain.

Adam Rogers argues in Proof: the Science of Booze, that there could be an explanation why more alcohol relieves a hangover.

Speaking at a Google talk earlier this year, he said belief in the “hair of the dog” cure had inspired a wealth of pick-me-up cocktails like the Bloody Mary.

The most widely-held view states that hangovers are caused by dehydration but there could be another reason.

“There is a theory that says the hangover is actually the symptom of very ,very small amounts of methanol”, he said.

“The notion is if a hangover is methanol toxicity, you’re going to have another drink and the ethanol displaces the methanol off the enzyme and you will feel better.

“That’s the hypothesis, no one has proved that.”

Hangover cure: a Bloody Mary Hangover cure: a Bloody Mary Stressing the science is “very hypothetical”, Mr Rogers said the other theory was that the high from more alcohol merely masks symptoms of a hangover and noted that people who admit to trying “hair of the dog” were statistically more likely to be alcoholics.

All alcohol contains trace amounts of toxic methanol, he said, which can cause blindness and even death in high concentrations because the body converts it into formaldehyde.

The poison is usually used to preserve dead bodies and can deprive parts of the body of oxygen when administered in high levels.

Fortunately, the levels of methanol in most drinks are very low but added up over time, it can cause a hangover.

Ethanol, the main component of alcohol, is given to patients with methanol poisoning to stop it converting into formaldehyde.

Mr Rogers, who is an editor at Wired magazine, has formerly won an award for science journalism and examined the history of alcohol and the science of its effects in his new book.

In it, he notes the scientific name for hangovers is veisalgia, taken from the Greek word for “pain” and the Norwegian name translates as “uneasiness after debauchery”.

The NHS advises a more cautious approach to a cure, urging people not to drink on an empty stomach, avoid dark-coloured alcohols that have more impurities and down a pint of water before bed.

Calling the “hair of the dog” a risky habit, it claims more alcohol merely delays the symptoms of the hangover but may in itself cause another one.

The official advice adds: “The best way to avoid a hangover is not to drink.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Reprographics Operator

£12500 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest independent Reprogr...

Recruitment Genius: Web Design Apprentice

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...

Tradewind Recruitment: French & German Teacher

£120 - £145 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: French & German Teacher X2 Materni...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer / Systems Administrator

£25000 - £32500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in SW London, this compan...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee