Unlike Taio Cruz, most of us don’t wake up from a hangover eager to jump into a song, but rather have an unpleasant feeling of dizziness, with just a pinch of self-loathing. While the exact physiological reasons for a hangover are hard to understand even for experienced medical scholars, the causal reasons are very well known to almost every adult. The wine was too tasty, the company too interesting, and the night too long.
While it should be important to know the processes that are happening in our body as to understand why we feel as we do, most people are more interested in how to solve the problem at hand. And for this reason, there are hangover cures that are as old as wine itself, and the earliest written remedies are as old as writing.
The first written record for a hangover cure was found in the remains of the library of Ashurbanipal, the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire who lived in the 6th century BC, where an unknown physician recommends to mix ground bird beaks and myrrh and to chew on that. Knowing what we know now, this is a bad idea, but it shows that the ancients shared the same troubles as modern people when it comes to overindulgence in wine.
What is a Hangover?
While the variations can depend on the type of drink you are using, and can even be different between different wines, a hangover is a result of alcohol poisoning, ethanol poisoning to be specific. This is why different people have different experiences with hangovers, as the severity of the poisoning can vary depending on the person’s metabolism, their size, and their prior drinking experience.
For one, ethanol, which is the primary alcohol in wine, is a mild diuretic, meaning that it will make you ‘’excrete” more fluids than you normally would. Frequent bathroom breaks are typical for a night out, and this will lead you to become dehydrated, with all the effects dehydration has on the body. The secondary effect is also the reason why ethanol is a diuretic, and that is because it enlarges the blood vessels in our body. This widening is what makes us feel tipsy or drunk, and on the rebound, when the vessels start shrinking, we start feeling the pain that comes from an increase in blood pressure.
This increase in pressure, combined with the lack of fluids, makes for the main effect of a hangover. Additionally, depending on the acidity, sweetness, and the sulfuric content of the wine, we can feel these effects as well.
Toxicity and Detox
There are many official rules, actual good advice, and significant misconceptions when it comes to alcohol toxicity, but as always it is much easier to prevent a hangover than to cure it. Once your liver feels the punch, there is little you can do to deal with it immediately, and the best thing you can hope for is to stay functional during a hangover.
As there are people who will have a hangover even if they have had only two glasses of wine, prevention advice of ‘’not drinking too much” is not really applicable. The best way to ameliorate the effects is to consume food alongside your favorite wine. It is important to know that while in most cases the best choice of wine and food pairing is also the one that will prevent a hangover; this is not universally the case. One of the most prominent examples that don’t follow this are dessert wines that might taste best with a side of something sweet, but this added sugar will only increase the impact of the alcohol and make the hangover worse. Because of this, sweet wines should be drunk with additional care, and maybe a savory snack in advance.
Myths and Misconceptions
Albeit that Taio Cruz, ancient Romans, and Ernest Hemingway concur that the best cure for alcohol is just to keep drinking, this might be the worst advice ever given. While additional drinking will slow down the shrinking of your blood vessels and alleviate some of the pain, it will just be an extra punch to your dehydration, and make the end result much, much worse.
The second great misconception is that you can cure a hangover with any big breakfast, as this evolved from the time when people woke up early and had bacon and vegetables, and not pancakes and syrup. Any sugar will be detrimental for your recovery, as you will place even more strain on your liver to filter out all of the toxins. A light breakfast is much better, with chicken soup being probably the best option.
There are other traditional remedies, some of which have more effect than others, and some being a step in the wrong direction. Whichever you choose, stay away from carbon-hydrates in any form, be that sugar, pastry, or alcohol.
Tips and Tricks
- Your best friend during a hangover is water. In more forms than one.
Once you wake up, drag yourself to the nearest drinking water source and start injecting. For an average person, you should drink about a hundred ounces of water to combat dehydration. When you have enough water on the inside, put some on you from the outside. If you can have a cold shower that would be perfect, and if not, try not to make the water too hot. This will lower your blood pressure and get rid of the headache. Probably you will not feel exactly fresh as a daisy, but you will feel much better than before.
It doesn’t really matter which kind, but any physical activity that will increase your endorphin will be very beneficial. If you are into running, take a quick lap, yoga is also acceptable. If you don’t really have an exercise routine, just do a dozen push-ups, and that will be enough.
- Take your caffeine
Your coffee should resemble a Kardashian ex-boyfriend: tall, black, and bitter. No sugar, no cream, nothing that can worsen your affliction, just pure caffeine. After having your coffee it would be best to take a small nap while it works its magic and you will wake up replenished, but if this is not an option, you will still feel much better after a nice cup of black gold.
Finally, the best advice you can get about hangovers is the one you have told yourself after each one, and that is to stop drinking that much. To paraphrase the Buddha himself, the path of enlightenment comes with moderation, and this is true for enlightenment through wine drinking as well. If you are having a long and fun night, break the wine with a cup of sparkling water every now and then. Make sure that you are eating something while you drink, and more than everything else, make sure that you are drinking good quality wine. A truly good wine will make you fulfilled with just a couple of sips, which is something that you will never be able to get from boxed wine.
A hangover should steer you off drinking, as that is also an extreme, but should inform you that there is such a thing as too much of a good time and that you should be more careful in the future.