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Skip that hangover

Zubin Dsouza

So the festive season is over and you have overindulged.

We have all been down that road.

It starts with wanting to get that buzz, it moves on to wanting to maintain that buzz and it finally ends with us wanting to get rid of that pounding in the head.

Okay, so the deed is done. You thought you were young and could handle it or you are young and you couldn’t handle it and now the night of fun and frolic has shifted into the realm of pain and despair. You reach out for respite, for help and there is none coming.

Every once in a while you reach a stage where you promise yourself that you would never touch another drop of alcohol again as long as you live. You have a splitting headache, loud sounds and bright lights feel like hammers and tongs inside your skull and your tongue feels like sandpaper. What you are exhibiting are all classic signs of a hangover.

Now people have spent centuries looking for ways to prevent or cure a hangover although the verdict is pretty unanimous on the cause which is alcohol. It is this very flow of alcohol which often is in arguably copious amounts that manage to trigger off the massive landslide that you feel inside your head. The best prevention then in this case is not to drink any alcohol at all but then you would not get a hangover and there would be no cause for me to write this article.

Many have chosen to capitalise over the hangover malady. There are chefs who have menus devoted to the cause, drug companies touting instant cures and bars dragging revellers back in the morning with their hair of dog recipes.

Do they all work? Well, if they all did, then we would not have ever had so many people complaining the morning after.

Of course the best thing is not to drink at all but we cannot have that, can we? You could then sleep it off or combat it with an aspirin but the other cures that are touted so liberally may not be all sensible or worth your while.

So now if we are going to discuss this, we might as well take the first step scientifically. All the symptoms that you now display are caused by a change in the balance of the chemical composition of your body including your hormones.

Alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes you want to go to the washroom frequently to empty your bladder. As a result, there is very little liquid left in your body and so to compensate your body decides to draw it out from other sources which may include your brain. Although a pounding head and drowsy feeling seem like the perfect setting for coffee, you should stay away from it because coffee also has diuretic properties and could further compound your problem.

Alcohol strips your body off the vitamins B1 and B12 which have to be compensated. At this point in time a sports drink could help balance the electrolytes and liquid although an even better idea could be fresh coconut water which has sometimes been used as a substitute for blood plasma.

Water (especially in large amounts) is one of the best natural remedies. This is especially beneficial if consumed in large quantities before going to bed and again right after waking up in the morning.

Many often tout fruit juices and more specifically orange juice in the morning which is not suggested. Alcohol has high levels of acid in it and trying to combat that with another acid may just leave you with a very sore tummy.

Several hangover cures depend on the consumption of fatty and greasy foods of high calorific value. These work more as prevention because the oils line the stomach and reduce the absorption of alcohol. Adding exceedingly heavy foods to your body when your liver already seems overtaxed is being foolhardy.

Instead you could always reach out for potassium laden fruits like kiwis or bananas or even a tomato. Tomatoes contain lycopene which is an antioxidant that also reduces inflammation in the body. It also contains fructose and vitamin C that gives your liver a kick start.

The worst thing to do is to opt for another drink because it may take the edge off the pain in the morning but later in the day your hangover would return with a vengeance.

Well, I could drink to all this information!

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