The latest in hangover cures
If you woke up with a splitting headache and other ailments on Jan. 1, you’re hardly alone. Millions of us overindulge on New Year’s Eve, and plenty vow to start that dry January perhaps after a little bit of hair of the dog. Humans have been drinking alcohol for thousands of years, and they’ve been trying to cure or prevent their hangovers for just about as long. Owl eggs and raw eels have at various times throughout history been popular go-to remedies. Even as more people, especially young ones, eschew alcohol and hit the mocktails instead, about 60% of Americans drink on a semi-regular basis.
The best way to avoid a hangover, of course, is not to drink. That’s far easier said than done, however. Beyond that, eating and hydrating before you go to bed – and ideally before you start drinking – can help out a great deal.
THC-infused drinks like Cann promise “the buzz without the beer.” They provide “a small amount of high” Cann’s founders say, enough to last through a party but not to have you feeling too out of sorts, and certainly not leaving you feeling the effects the morning after.
Such drinks aren’t available everywhere, and many tipplers prefer their alcoholic drink of choice. As science and technology progress, we’ve moved beyond folk remedies to FDA-approved ones backed by hard data. Products like Morning Recovery and Cheers can be taken before you start drinking and promise to have users feeling less hungover when they wake up. Both tout supporting healthy liver function, helping to metabolize alcohol faster to leave users feeling better in the morning.
A key ingredient in Morning Recovery, and the only ingredient in Bae Juice, is Korean pear. Bae Juice co-founder Tim O’Sullivan noticed his then-partner Sumin Do and her friends stopping for pear juice after a night of drinking when visiting South Korea.
“We were drinking almost every day,” O’Sullivan told Food Business News. “When we were finished with the evening, we would stop at the convenience store and Sumin and her friends would buy a pouch or can of Korean pear juice, which I thought was very interesting instead of going for water. So I asked, ‘Does Korean pear juice really help with a hangover?’”
The question consumed him, and with Do and co-founder Liam Gostencnik, he started Bae Juice, which is launching retail sales in New York City then focusing on ecommerce before trying to secure a foothold with distributors on the West Coast.
Plenty of us are not that good at planning ahead, however. For those drinkers, there’s Blowfish, which is “guaranteed to start to make you feel better in 15 minutes” after being dissolved in water. It contains aspirin for pain relief, caffeine for energy, lemon for hydration, and effervescence for fast action. Rather than taking pills, drinking coffee or soda and water, Blowfish promises users the effects of all those things in one package. “And at two bucks a hangover? No brainer,” the company’s website declares.
Preventing Hangovers – With Science
It’s a common rule of thumb that dark liquors contain more congeners than clear ones. Congeners can be good, providing the drink with a unique character and flavor profile. But congeners also correlate with a higher frequency and intensity of hangovers because they’re hard for the body to break down. One congener, methanol, which is found at its highest levels in whiskey and red wine, can stay in the body after all the alcohol has been processed. The better-distilled alcohol is, the less likely it is to leave a hangover. That’s a big reason why the cheap stuff leaves you feeling a lot worse the next day than a more expensive pour.
Since congeners are so important to the taste and body of a drink, and since they’re a byproduct of the fermentation process that produces alcohol, it can be hard to remove them. In the case of red wine, though, there might be some good news on the horizon. Researchers from two California universities, UC-San Francisco and UC-Davis, close to wine country have discovered that the plant pigment quercetin exists in higher concentrations in reds than in whites. They theorize that quercetin might be responsible for hangovers after even just a glass or two of red, thanks to its ability to halt the metabolism of alcohol and lead to a buildup of acetaldehyde in a person’s body. If their theory proves correct, winemakers could decide to change grape-growing practices to reduce the amount of quercetin in the finished product.
“Practices in premium wine-producing vineyards, like trellised vines, crop-thinning, and leaf clearance create more sun exposure, which facilitates higher levels of quercetin,” Dr. Morris Levin, one of the study’s authors, told Beverage Daily. “Other factors that play a role include how long grape skins are in contact with the wine during fermentation, aging methods, and so-called fining, in which unwanted materials are removed and substances added to improve its appearance, aroma, and taste.”
They might just be able to remove the hangover, too.