Although my lifestyle is extremely clean during the week, I’m no ascetic. The pleasures of alcohol are no strangers.
But I refuse to let an enjoyable Friday night ruin my entire Saturday. I researched the medical literature for hangover cures and devised one after experimenting on myself and my friends.
The medical research is sparse: “More than 4700 articles have been written about alcohol intoxication since 1965, but only 108 have addressed alcohol hangover.” – Jeffrey G. Wiese, MD, The Alcohol Hangover.
Much of the literature explored the effect of a hangover rather than a hangover cure. “It is evident that awareness needs to be raised that performance the morning after alcohol consumption is at the same level if not worse than when participants are at the legal limit for driving (0.08% blood alcohol concentration).”
Science supports two supplements that mitigate hangovers. The first is the common aspirin, taken before a night of drinking. “Prostaglandins may be involved in several acute or short-term reactions caused by alcohol. Chlorpropamide-alcohol flush, alcoholintolerance and hangover are effectively alleviated by a prophylactic use of PG-inhibitors.” Aspirin is a PG-inhibitor.
Prophylactic vitamin B6 (pyritinol) reduced the number of hangover symptoms by approximately 50% in one study (57). Seventeen men and women attended two parties and were asked to drink the alcoholic beverage of their choice until intoxicated. Fifty percent of participants received 1200 mg of vitamin B6 (400 mg at the beginning of the party, 400 mg 3 hours later, and 400 mg at the party’s conclusion), and 50% received placebo. At the second party, participants received the alternate tablet. A survey instrument of 20 symptoms was used to assess hangover severity. On a scale of 1 to 10, the mean symptom score (±SD) was 3.2 ± 2.8 with pyritinol and 6.8 ± 3.8 with placebo (P < 0.01). The mechanism of this effect is unknown.
Unfortunately, that’s about all the science there is.
But I devised my own cure through the guidance of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and stoic philosopher who advised: “Look to the essence of a thing, whether it be a point of doctrine, of practice, or of interpretation.”
What’s the essence of a hangover?
The essence of a hangover is intoxication. We use intoxicated and drunk synonymously for that very reason.
What organ is responsible for detoxification? The answer is the liver. How does the liver detoxify your body? By using glutathione.
Thus to mitigate or prevent a hangover, we need to ensure that the body has adequate stores of glutathione.
Alpha lipoic acid is another powerful detoxifying agent. In Germany it’s approved for the treatment of liver disease. A practical assay of lipoate in biologic fluids and liver in health and disease.
Alpha lipoic acid regulates blood sugar as well, which probably prevents the blood sugar crash that seems to accompany a hangover. For whatever reason, alpha lipoic acid prevents hangovers.
So here’s what I take before going out:
(Although aspirin may help, my hangover cure is so effective that I don’t feel the need to add it.)
As long as I’m able to sleep in, I wake up without any hangover symptoms.
Some of you may feel tricked. “That’s not a hangover cure. That’s a prevention.” Exactly.
Three thousand years ago, the youngest of three physician brothers was asked why he was a better doctor than his two older brothers. Thuis put the young man in a precarious situation, since in China is disrespectful to elevate yourself over your elders.
The young doctor explained:
“My first brother heals sickness before it even develops, so his methods appear hidden, his science is an art form and he is known only within our village. My second brother deals with illnesses while they are minor, preventing sickness from getting worse and returning the body to health. I deal with sicknesses when they have reached the level of disease and threaten to destroy the organism of which they are a part. This requires numerous medicines, and skill and knowledge in their use. For this reason my name has become famous throughout the kingdom and I have been asked to be physician to the king. Yet my first brother has the knowledge to deal with sicknesses before they arise and my second brother is able to treat them at an early stage and prevent them getting worse. Though my fame has spread throughout the land, their knowledge is greater.
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