Hangover Cures: The Ultimate Experiment
7 hangover remedies tested, and their measurable results.
>>> Bang for Your Buck
By staff writer David Nelson
November 6, 2005
There's nothing worse than a hangover. You just had to break out your monogrammed beer bong last night, and now all you want to do is curl up in the fetal position and pray for oblivion. It's even worse if you have to go to work or class in the morning.
Some people would say that the best you can hope for is to keep your head down and hope to make it through the day. Other, more optimistic people, have a special hangover cure that they guarantee will work. If you listen to them, chances are good that you'll be swigging down a frothy mixture of cappuccino and prune juice while doing a headstand. Maybe some of these cures work, maybe not. Because science is unwilling to get wasted for the sake of progress, no truly useful research on this topic has ever been done.
That's right, ladies and gentlemen, using precise scientific methods gleaned from reading Archie Comics, I have devised a series of trials that will prove, once and for all, which hangover cures will work, and to what extent.
"The drizzle-shits are an accepted part of having a hangover. Needless to say, hot sauce is an unwelcome addition to the chemical process."
This is obviously not a study that one could complete in merely a week. I haven't plummeted that far into alcoholism just yet. So, over the past six months, whenever I had an occasion to get drunk, I would distill the previous night's fun into pure science. For each cure, I tested my physical, mental, and social/verbal acuity, knowing that these are the areas hit hardest. Don't believe me? You try taking the SATs while doing squat thrusts and chatting up a girl. Now add a hangover. Not so easy anymore, is it?
I knew that I couldn’t be trusted to go through an ordinary hangover and just remember what was happening, because if all went according to plan, I would be significantly messed up. I had to use clear scientific method. That meant a control group (me not hung over) and clearly measurable results. Here are those results:
Control Group (Me not hung over)
Physical Acuity - Weight Lifting: 22 repetitions
I thought it was important to test the effect each hangover cure has on a person’s physical strength. Mostly because after a night of drinking, I have sometimes been too weak to escape from the weight of my blanket. To test my physical acuity, I gathered my roommate's free weights while he was still asleep, and picked the biggest one. It didn't say how heavy it was, but after considering how my performance would look on paper, I judged it to be about one million billion pounds. I could lift it twenty-two times before something in my arm warned me it was about to snap.
Mental Acuity - Sudoku Puzzling: 35 minutes
Most hung over people are not capable of figuring out how to unscrew the aspirin bottle. So, to test the non-impaired performance of my mental faculties, I decided I would start a sudoku puzzle immediately after the weight lifting, then record how many minutes it took to finish it. For those of you who don’t know, a sudoku tests your brainpower by having you insert numbers into little boxes. I think it was invented in Japan, which means that, originally, if you did it wrong, you would be immersed in a tank full of centipedes. Not hung over, I finished an expert puzzle in 35 minutes. Don’t ask me how they distinguish between expert and novice level puzzles.
Social/Verbal Acuity – Human Interaction: 100%
To measure social acuity, all I needed to do was successfully undergo a kind of interaction that normal, non-hung over people have every day. Something that would require me to communicate complex sentences to another human being. However, I also knew that I wouldn't be in good enough shape to travel all around the city to do this. Then, inspiration struck. There's a convenience store mere steps away from my apartment, and the clerk only knows a smattering of English. To that end, I wrote a number of different items on separate slips of paper, to be selected at random. I would then have to ascertain this item's location in the store without searching, only by communicating with the clerk. To make it more difficult, I chose tasks that would guarantee I would need to do some explaining. As part of my control group, I was able to successfully locate the hemorrhoid cream, a process that called upon my extensive training at describing hemorrhoids. Believe me, even sober, this took a while. It would have helped if I knew what the Chinese word for hemorrhoid was. Probably something like "itchy shame-ball." Furthermore, I was also able to avoid embarrassment by convincing him it was for my elderly grandfather. I'm pretty sure the clerk understood me, or at least pretended to, which is good enough for me. That means that, not hung over, my social/verbal acuity is 100%.
Hangover Cure #1 – Cabbage
According to my sources, the Ancient Greeks thought it was a potent hangover cure. Of course, they were also known for starting NAMBLA, so what the hell do they know? Cabbage, in addition to being a delicious staple of immigrant families, is thought to clear the body of congeners. Congeners are either the toxic by-products of the fermentation process, or dancing Latin midgets. In either case, I don't want them in my body. The night before I went out with my friends and had a few too many. I woke up the next morning, and lo and behold, ate some leftover cabbage.
Weight Lifting: 14 repetitions
I feel as though I might have completed more, but the cabbage put me in very real danger of shitting my pants in the middle of my apartment. Science just isn't worth that.Also, my burps now tasted like a compost heap. This didn't increase my strength; I just thought you should know.
Sudoku Puzzling: 31 minutes
Hmm, I actually completed the puzzle in less time when I was hung over. I don't think this means I'm some sort of cabbage-fueled reverse super genius, though. My brain was probably co-operating because my bowels were holding it hostage. For what it’s worth, I had excellent penmanship, too, but I fouled the toilet bowl pretty bad minutes later. Hopefully, when historians gather at a future symposium to discuss my scientific achievements, they'll argue that those two things cancel each other out.
Human Interaction: 50%
The item I selected was "embarrassing video." Like a trooper, I headed out, intent on picking up any one of a number of action/panty thrillers starring, say, Jaime Pressly, before her career really started going downhill. Clearly, the cabbage wasn't clearing my body of congeners just yet. Lights seemed too bright, sounds seemed too loud, and smells seemed too smelly, probably because I was generating them. I asked the clerk where the sexy movies were. He unhelpfully pointed me, probably with his other hand hovering over a silent alarm, to the rack containing all the movies. At this point, I guessed he may have remembered me from the hemorrhoid business. This was not good. I asked him if he knew any titles starring Jaime Pressly, and he barked something like "You buy now! Over there!" probably because my breath smelled like I was eating out of a litter box. Defeated, but pointed in the general direction of the videos, I gave myself partial credit. I even rented one so that next time I showed up in this poor guy's store, I wouldn't be treated like an invading Mongol. It may not have been an erotic thriller like I planned, but I figured Mulan would surely score me some extra points with clerk.
Bottom Line: I swear to god, I don't even really like cabbage, but I think it did clear my head a little bit. However, the trade off is not worth it. Between the liquor working its way out of my system, the pizza I had the previous night, and the cabbage, I didn't move my bowels, they moved me.
Hangover Cure #2 - Coffee
A lot of lushes swear by it, even though science types claim it does more harm than good. I was at a friend's birthday the previous night, and judging by the amount that I drank, I was pretty sure I'd be willing to travel to Columbia and personally thank the itinerant workers who pick the beans for 2 bucks an hour if coffee actually made the bad feelings go away.
Weight Lifting: 11 repetitions
Sleepy, cottonmouthed and sweating pure alcohol from my pores, I’d lost 50 percent of my strength.
Sudoku Puzzling: Results inconclusive
Since I had to get up about every thirty seconds to take a pee, I had trouble giving a damn about finishing the puzzle. Ten minutes into it, I said to hell with science, I’m doing something else. Before I left, I decided to revolutionize the world of sudoku puzzle comedy by playing a little game of tic-tac-toe in one of the grids.
Human Interaction: 95%
I randomly drew "tampons" as the mystery item I would have to locate in the Asian-Convenience-Store-Of-Increasing-Hostility. Just great. All the coffee in the world wasn't going to give me the courage I needed to communicate the concept of tampons to this guy. So, making a bold gambit, I just asked him where they were. To my surprise and delight, he showed them to me right away. A man has probably never been so pleased to see tampons. He did give me a funny look, but I wasn't sure if it was a result of an old gremlin injury, or the tampon inquiry. Either way, I was so surprised that I forgot to tell him the tampons were for my imaginary girlfriend. I can only hope he assumed as much. All in all, I would say that amounts to 95% verbal/social acuity.
Bottom Line: The caffeine might wake you up a little, but probably too late to be useful. Also, you'll be easily distracted and forgetful. Well, in my case, more so than normal.
Hangover Cure #3 - Sex
Something about the transfer of blood from head to other body parts suggests that this cure might be legitimate, not to mention fun. Unfortunately, lacking a girlfriend, I was not able to maintain my accurate scientific approach. I really wanted to be able to have a vigorous sexual encounter that would shake off the hangover so I could achieve world records in weight lifting, puzzle solving, and panty purchasing. Instead, I masturbated twice and went back to sleep until the hangover had faded.
Weight Lifting: Results inconclusive
Sudoku Puzzling: Results inconclusive
Human Interaction: -50%
Any task that has the word “social” in it, and is solved by jerking off, deserves a negative score.
Bottom Line: Irrelevant, since if you're anything like me, you'll be doing it not to cure your hangover, but out of residual ambient horniness. If you happen to cure a hangover along the way, so much the better.
Hangover Cure #4 - Big Greasy Breakfast
I stocked the house with bacon, eggs, hash browns, and bread for frying in the bacon fat. When my head hit the pillow after a night of debauchery, I distinctly remember thinking how great the next morning was going to be. When I finally woke up, the last thing I wanted to do was cook, but I forced myself in the name of science.
Weight Lifting: 22 repetitions
My mighty muscles, fortified by flattened chicken embryos and strips of seared swine flesh, lifted the same amount of weight as non-hung over me. In fact, I think I could have done a few more repetitions, but I was there to conduct rigorous scientific research, not show off.
Sudoku Puzzling: 49 minutes
I was worried that a big greasy breakfast would make me torpid in addition to being hung over, and therefore diminish my comprehension and pencil speed enough to make a puzzle last hours. Well, it wasn't quite that bad, but it did take longer. I made a mental note of how wise I was not to make Heavy Machinery Operation one of my tests.
Human Interaction: 33%
My quest on that day, like so many days before it, was for a porno magazine. I figured it would be easy. As it turned out, the problem was not communicating, it was the fact that the magazine rack was the first thing one sees when entering the store. Accordingly, asking where a porno magazine was located was so stupid that it might have revealed my entire sinister plan to the clerk, whose name I have since learned is Chen. I did some quick thinking, and decided the only way I could maintain my scientific integrity would be to ask for a very specific magazine. Calling upon all my training as a mime, I feigned having poor eyesight and asked Chen if he carried Playboy Magazine. He nodded, not even looking up from his meal, which probably consisted of tiger penis. I guess “Playboy" is a pretty recognizable brand. I gave myself a low score of 33% for not choosing something more challenging, like "Shaved Orien-tails," or "Lactating Latinas in Heat." If I had been less hung over, I might have had the presence of mind to do so.
Bottom Line: A big greasy breakfast replenishes your body with needed elements like calcium, protein, and bacon. Even though I was mentally sluggish, I think the big greasy breakfast is the best cure so far. Unfortunately, it's also the most labor-intensive. Surely, there's an easier way.
Hangover Cure #5 - Voodoo
Apparently, the Haitian cure for hangovers is to stick 13 pins into the cork of the offending bottle. Well, even if it doesn't work, I figured if I could focus long enough, it still might feel a bit like revenge, so I was willing to give it a shot. I was at a cottage drinking wine that was extremely faggy, so I enhanced my machismo by drinking a lot of it. I woke up, and armed with 13 pins, I prayed that Haitians were as advanced and reliable as their international reputation suggests. To get into the spirit, I even painted my face black, and hopped up and down chanting "oogah boogah." Fortunately, only a few passing boaters saw me.
Weight Lifting: 12 repetitions
Since I was at a cottage, I didn't have access to weights. I briefly toyed with the idea of grabbing an axe and chopping wood for a workout, just like Rocky did prior to fighting Ivan Drago. Then I realized that even though my speech was as slurred as Sylvester Stallone's, I probably wasn't co-coordinated enough at the moment to safely operate an axe. Instead I settled on push-ups. I could do exactly four before searing pain set in. I promised that, when I was sober, I would somehow work out a push-up to power lift conversion rate, but fuck that. One push-up hereby equals three repetitions.
Sudoku Puzzling: 34 minutes
Using voodoo, I was actually able to shave a minute off my time, surely pleasing the Haitian God of Intellectual Pastimes. However, I'm almost sure that was the result of the peaceful setting, lack of distractions, and the fact that I had absolutely nothing to do until my even drunker friends woke up.
Human Interaction: 70%
Rather than ask for an embarrassing item, I had to make do with asking my friends to pass normal items to me. There was no embarrassment involved, save for the kind I suffer on a daily basis. Out of 10 items I asked for (objects such as lighters, bags of chips, ashtrays, etc.) I received 7, for a score of 70%. If you decide to conduct future studies using this research, please be aware that this figure should include 5% standard deviation accounting for the proximity of the items in question, and the degree of assholery of my friends.
Bottom Line: Voodoo might be good for scaring Gilligan, or defeating the Ultimate Warrior, but performing acupuncture on a cork to cure a hangover is just retarded. It's like killing the dog that gave you rabies. It might feel good to do it, but you're still going to have to suffer.
Hangover Cure #6 - Hot Sauce
Some people say that spiciness is the key to success in both the Latin music scene, and in beating a hangover. I actually happen to collect hot sauces, so this was one cure I was looking forward to trying. Very soon, I would be punished for my naiveté. My sauce of choice was called "357 Mad Dog Sauce." Sauce manufacturers point out that if a product is hotter than a pepper au naturale, it cannot legally be called a sauce and must be labeled a "food additive." At 357,000 Scoville units, this one comes in just under the legal limit. I once nearly killed a good friend of mine with a spoonful of this sauce. Only quick thinking and the medical administration of ice cream bars saved his life that day. With that in mind, I gamely took a few drops of the stuff in an attempt to clear my gin-soaked head.
Weight Lifting: 24 repetitions
While hot sauce did not give me superhuman strength, the tiny chunks of non-dissolved habanero peppers I would find in my teeth gave me the rage necessary to lift the weight two extra times.
Sudoku Puzzling: 8 hours, 13 minutes
Somewhere in between howling in pain and stuffing my mouth full of ice cubes, I did manage to mumble out, “Science can kiss my ass. I’m not doing another damn puzzle." Also, my farts were turning my underwear bright scarlet; clearly a more pressing concern. I finished the puzzle later that day.
Human Interaction: 25%
This time, I selected a Barbie Doll, knowing full well the convenience store wouldn't have one, but that Chen probably stocked some cheap Asian knock-offs, which I would have to describe. The good news: Chen wasn't working that morning. The bad news: A girl my age, and not too hard on the eyes, was his replacement. I'm pretty sure my mouth was suffering from a second-degree burn, but the girl managed not to laugh when I asked her if the store carried Barbies. Predictably, it didn't. If it were Chen, my next question would have been about girl toys of any kind. Unfortunately, I couldn't humiliate myself in front of this cute girl. I did, however, get the initial question out, so I gave myself quarter marks. Come back, Chen!
Bottom Line: The drizzle-shits are an accepted part of having a hangover. Needless to say, hot sauce is an unwelcome addition to the chemical process. Unless you want your sphincter feeling like it's been repeatedly assaulted with a cactus, I recommend avoiding hot sauce.
Hangover Cure #7 - Hair of the Dog
Some veterans on the professional drinking tour claim that a hangover is really nothing more than one's body going through a form of withdrawal. Inspired by this awesome logic, I followed up an evening of beer and debauchery with a morning of beer and science.
Weight Lifting: 15 repetitions
I did start to feel slightly drunk again, as opposed to hungover. I'm not sure that really improved my ability to lift weights. It did, however, improve my ability to unscrew and make a little happy face out of them. If artistic ability were one of my test parameters, I'm sure I would have scored at least a solid "Thought-provoking."
Sudoku Puzzling: 37 minutes
When I look back at the puzzle, I'm actually amazed I was able to finish at all. That’s the good news. The bad news is, at some point, I must have forgotten about sudoku and somehow convinced myself I was doing a crossword puzzle. I really can’t explain how that happened, but I did generate a few interesting ideas for chat-room aliases, such as CHEWBACCA9, and 42ASSFACE1.
Human Interaction: 150%
This time, I selected "enema kit," an object I doubted Chen would carry out of sympathy for his customers. Nevertheless, I was feeling brave and lucid by the time I got to the store. This time, I wore an awesome disguise consisting of a bandanna and sunglasses, so that Chen's emerging hatred for me wouldn't taint the results. As I suspected, the store did not carry enema kits, but in order to ascertain that fact, I described them in vivid enough detail to make a horrified Chen stop playing Mahjongg long enough to promise to start stocking them. That, my friends, deserves an exceptional score.
Bottom Line: "Hair of the Dog" may be the real deal. Mind you, you're not really avoiding a hangover, just postponing (and probably worsening) it. If you can stretch out a drinking session long enough to make it to the next weekend, well then, congratulations, you've beat science. Also, you're probably Boris Yeltsin.
Essential New Word of the Day: kahlululate \kha’lul’julet\ v: A tough one to pronounce, and one of my personal favorites. This means to shriek with pleasure upon the discovery of Kahlua. And really, who wouldn't shriek if they found a bottle of that rich, creamy liqueur that's not good for much except as an ice-cream topping. Some will see the verb "ululate" hiding in there, which is the part meaning "to shriek." But it's difficult to describe just how this particular kind of shriek sounds using the printed word. If you're alone, try screaming "LALALALALALALALALA” at three times the normal pitch and volume. My brother married a Moroccan girl and they repeatedly ululated at the wedding. I'm still undergoing therapy. I should also point out that it is also the sound that terrorists are commonly depicted as making when they're happy, while they shoot rifles into the sky. But now I've wandered miles off topic. Please enjoy your Kahlua responsibly.