Cocktails & Spirits

New Year's Day Hangover Cures: Let's Get Scientific

Happy New Year! The over-priced parties, the drunk drivers, the immense pressure on the midnight kiss forever dividing the happily coupled from the desperately single... We hope it will be magical. But New Year's Day will remind you that you're 365 days older and less able to handle your liquor.

Your body might be a temple, but praying to the porcelain gods for mercy never saved anyone. To deal with a hangover, one must turn to science.

A hangover is, for all intents and purposes, a medical condition.

You're severely dehydrated, you've lost essential vitamins, minerals,

and nutrients, and your body is processing and desperately trying to rid

itself of some uncomfortable toxins.

An ounce

of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so hydrate properly, eat the

right foods (greasy), and take a multi-vitamin before you down your

first cocktail.

After, the best medicine isn't

pain pills which will further thin your blood (Aspirin), irritate your

stomach (Advil, aka ibuprofen), and tax your liver (Tylenol,

aka acetaminophen). Caffeine or "hair of the dog" might make you feel

better in the moment, but in the long run will only make your hangover

worse. You've abused your body and you need to give it what it needs to

heal itself. Let us break it down for you:

1. Hydration
This means water. Lots and lots and lots of water. More water than you thought you could drink. Now, don't guzzle it all at once. Water intoxication is a thing and can kill you. The key is to keep drinking water, slowly and steadily. This not only rehydrates you - because you probably failed to drink 8 oz. of water between every alcoholic beverage - but also helps the toxins being produced from the digestion of the alcohol get out of your body that much faster. And you want them out of your body. Sports drinks or chicken broth can also be helpful because they are full of electrolytes, but water is life. Drink a bottle before you go to bed and as soon as you wake up.

2. Fructose
Here we're specifically referring to naturally occurring fructose like in honey and fruit juice. Fructose supposedly helps you break down and get rid of acetaldehyde which is one of the byproducts of alcohol digestion that makes your life miserable. Honey is a very good source of it and natural fruit juice has the added benefit of plenty of vitamins that need to be replaced. Alcohol makes you urinate and urine takes nutrients with it. Put those back. Add a couple tablespoons of honey to a glass of warm water and drink before bed. In the morning, have a nice big glass of juice with breakfast, after your bottle of water. (We did mention how important it is to hydrate, right?)

3. Potassium
Bananas. Or kiwis or more sports drinks or spinach or dried apricots. Bananas are best though - plus, they will help bind things up if you're experiencing any gastro-distress too. Potassium is one of those nutrients you lost pissing the night away - literally and figuratively - and lack of potassium can cause muscle spasms (like charlie horses) as well as fatigue and irritability -- sound familiar?

4. Cystein
We mentioned eating a greasy meal before going out and greasy meal is probably the most mentioned hangover remedy in our extremely unscientific (but speaking from plenty of experience) newsroom poll. People assume greasy meal refers to some sort of breakfasty egg dish. Grease isn't necessarily the key here though. Eating a fatty (AKA greasy) meal before you drink helps slow absorption. After you drink, however, it's actually the egg you want. Eggs have lots of cystein which breaks down that awful acetaldehyde. They're also full of protein and provide energy which you need to feel better. So, it turns out that IHOP stop on the way home actually is a good idea.

5. IV Fluids
You've noticed this list seems to have taken a turn for the extreme, but bear with us. If you were to end up in the ER drunk out of your gourd, the docs would order something euphemistically known as a banana bag. It's an IV drip of saline solution containing vitamins and minerals. It's kind of yellow, hence the name. Reviv on South Beach provides the same solution, without the pesky ER admittance. For $99 (they don't take insurance) the trained staff will administer a saline vitamin cocktail via IV while you lounge in a massage chair, watch TV, or play with an iPad. You could even get a preventative infusion before you go out drinking. If you don't like needles they will give you a drinkable concoction while you enjoy the oxygen bar, but it's not quite as effective. "Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant there is but it can only be taken by IV," says German Kaupert, one of the owners. "If you ingest it orally your digestive system breaks it down. So, the IV is best." They will even make a house call if you are simply too hungover to get there - though we're assuming they charge extra.

In summation, Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Sleeping it off might get you through the drunk bit, but not the hangover. Time and putting the right things into your body will help. Drink lots of water, eat a breakfast of eggs, juice, and a sliced banana, and maybe go for a nice walk to get that metabolism going. And hey, all this healthy recovering could be the beginning of your New Year's resolutions. Happy New Year. Be safe.

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Rebecca McBane is the arts and culture/food editor for New Times Broward-Palm Beach. She began her journalism career at the Sun Sentinel's community newspaper offshoot, Forum Publishing Group, where she worked as the editorial assistant and wrote monthly features as well as the weekly library and literature column, "Shelf Life." After a brief stint bumming around London's East End (for no conceivable reason, according to her poor mother), she returned to real life and South Florida to start at New Times as the editorial assistant in 2009. A native Floridian, Rebecca avoids the sun and beach at all costs and can most often be found in a well-air-conditioned space with the glow of a laptop on her face.
Contact: Rebecca McBane