An Experiment: Hang up that Hangover


By Molly Freedenberg

The jury’s out on what exactly causes a hangover. Some say it’s dehydration. Others claim there’s something in the alcohol itself that poisons you. I even had a nutritionist once tell me that it’s essentially a large-scale sugar crash (since alcohol is a sugar, it’s like eating nothing but Snickers bars for seven hours and then wondering why you feel like crap the next morning). I don’t know about any of those, but I’d like to add something to the list: our bi-annual FEAST supplement. That’s right. I’ve been editing this baby (to be published April 4) for almost a month now, and doing my job well (which translates into: eating and drinking as much as possible at as many places as possible) has meant waking up half that month’s mornings with a dry throat, fuzzy brain, rumbly tummy, and insatiable hunger for sleep.

After discussing this phenomenon with my coworkers, who I roped in to doing my “research” with me, I decided it was time to do a Guardian-wide experiment. In a building full of people who know how to play as hard as they work, someone must have the perfect hangover cure. And even if no one did, with drinkers this devoted, surely we’d have plenty of opportunities to test the snake oils we’ve all heard about but never tried (Almonds before drinking? Primrose oil? Lemon juice in black coffee? And strangest of all: running? Are you kidding me?).

And so.

Here begins an ongoing, occasional series detailing our very scientific, FDA-approved, soon-to-be-published-in-Nature testing of hangover cures, from the banal to the bizarre. Also, please feel free to post your suggestions for the magic no-more-pain elixir. Perhaps we’ll test yours too … all in the name of science, of course.

EXPERIMENT 1: THE HIPPIE CURE (weed, water, and Taco Bell)
Since this cure is so complicated, we put two researchers on the job, Johnny Blackwell and Sweet Cheeks McGee **.

Johnny’s Report:

So I woke up a full 2 hrs before my alarm was to go off, and I didn't go to bed early. I felt so shitty that I couldn't try to go back to sleep. I had a pounding headache as well as the general aches and pains from a long night of drinking. Seeing that is was my responsibility to see how The Hippie Cure would ease my pain, I thought, “Why not get a jump on this?” and proceeded to smoke a bowl.

Almost immediately I felt a little better. Nowhere near perfect, or sober, but I no longer cared about my headache. I was also very thirsty and decided that I needed to be drinking water as well. After 2 glasses of water and a bagel w/ cream cheese (the closest thing to Taco Bell in the near vicinity), my stomach stopped growling at me for the sheer amount of alcohol I’d forced into it the night before. Although this is where my morning gets a little hazy. I ended up vegging out in front of my TV for an hour, I can't tell you what I watched or why, but I do remember that morning TV sucks!

After being a complete slacker, I decided that I should start my day with a shower. I think I felt best all day after the shower -- refreshed and without the stink of booze on me.
About an hour later was when things started going downhill, though. First my throat got dry, which I tried to cure with more water. But it seemed that no matter how much water I drank, the dryness only got worse. Then the headache started up again, mildly at first, but by noon it was really starting to annoy me.

The thing about the "The Hippie Cure" is: you need to be able to smoke more, as needed, to keep your hangover at bay. But there are worse ways to spend a day.

Sweet Cheeks’ Report:

I’ve totally used this exact method mannnnny times in the past, and I can tell you that after a long night of drinking, smokin’ a doobie and checking out in front of with a chalupa (or 2…or 3…) will make your morning manageable and your afternoon bright. I’m telling you, it makes the sun shine.

CONCLUSION: Effective, but high maintenance. Save it for the weekend.

** not their real names

Stay tuned for EXPERIMENT 2...

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