Science //

Hangover Grub

Melissa Chow on the chow that’ll cushion the blow

Art by Johanna Roberts

The prevailing narrative has always been there is no intervention that will successfully prevent or treat alcohol hangovers. What experts will tell you over and over again, is that the only way to avoid a hangover is to not drink to excess.

Director of USyd’s University Health Service, Associate Professor Ian Marshall, insists “there is no magic cure”. Some strategies may improve specific symptoms like headaches or vomiting, but nothing relieves everything.

Hangover cures need to do two things: prevent alcohol from getting into the blood and or increase the rate at which it is metabolised. Associate Professor Gareth Denyer, who lectures Molecular Bioscience at USyd, can’t ever see a silver bullet existing.

The elusive search for a hangover cure has now turned to complementary and alternative medicines. Will a hero emerge? I took the newest rumoured hangover cures to local experts.

Asian Pear Juice

In what may soon win Australia bragging rights, the CSIRO has found consuming 200ml of Korean pear juice increases alcohol metabolism and may inhibit its absorption. Consumption of whole Korean pears, which can be found at any local Korean grocery store, produces a similar effect.

However, it must be emphasised that this effect only occurs if the pears are consumed before hitting the booze.

Dr Jon Wardle, founding Director of the Network of Researchers in the Public Health of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, believes the fruit’s natural fructose could be the key. CSIRO continues to investigate.

Vitamin IV Clinics

While Marshall says there is no evidence  IV solutions can cure hangovers, Dr Wardle at least thinks they are relatively safe. Rehydration is crucial in sobering-up, and IV hydration (where a cocktail of vitamins, electrolytes and fluids is pumped directly into one’s veins) has an immediate effect. Sessions start from $150, making them popular amongst the rich tween demographic in the US. Melbourne is the only state in Australia with any such clinics. Sydney’s last and possibly final clinic was shut down last week after a treatment scandal.

Chocolate Milk and Greasy Food

Dr Wardle says “some greasy breakfast with ‘good quality’ foods such as eggs, bacon and olive oil” can help get through the morning after, along with chocolate milk. Choccy milk has vitamin D, sugars and proteins that will help replace the electrolytes annihilated by last night’s bender.  The proteins in salty food, eggs and milk contain cysteine, which helps break down and neutralise alcohol.

An honourable mention must be extended to the humble Vegemite-on-toast. Yes, drunkards can be happy little Vegemites too. The familiar brown sludge is high in B vitamins and folic acid, which are typically depleted after a night of heavy drinking.

Unfortunately, my quest for the ultimate hangover cure has only left me grieving over broken myths.

Academics’ hangover cures

Dr Jon Wardle, founding Director of the Network of Researchers in the Public Health of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Chancellor’s Research Fellow at the Faculty of Nursing Midwifery and Health, UTS:

“My personal tip is to alternate between drinks, with water to keep hydrated, and usually have a sweet drink before going to bed. If things are still bad the next day, some more sweet drink: a juice – it nearly has as much sugars as soft drinks, but at least has vitamins. If things are still bad, I tend to resort to sweet fizzy drink over the day until I do feel better. Getting up and moving around is essential. Your body wants to get rid of the by-products, but it needs help.”

Associate Professor Gareth Denyer, Molecular Bioscience Lecturer, Faculty of Science, USyd:

“Water, water, tea, water, aspirin, dry toast, water, tea, water, shower, water, tea.”

Associate Professor Ian Marshall, FRCGP, FRACGP, Director, University Health Service, USyd:

“These days, I don’t need a cure for myself.”