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I'll Never Do That, Again! - Anatomy of a Hangover

One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, FLOOR!!

I'm sure you have all woken up with one at least once in your life. Brain like a wrung-out sponge, hair tongued, beer goggled eyes, light sensitivity of 1000 ASA speed film, you drag your sorry butt out of bed and proceed to dunk your throbbing head into a bucket of ice water. You've got a hangover, and you've only got yourself to blame!

Somewhere between your 15th homebrew and the innumerable shots of that brown stuff that tastes vaguely like Formby's furnisher polish you dragged yourself to a bed that wasn't spinning around the room in circles, but instead end-over-end! You didn't eat something before drinking and you certainly didn't pace yourself, (Yes, Mother!)

    • Eat A Big Meal Prior To Drinking - This is one of the best ways to prepare for a night of drinking, and is beneficial in two ways. Firstly, a large meal will close down your pyloric sphincter thus holding the alcohol in your stomach longer. The alcohol in your stomach will be more completely broken down before it enters the small intestine. Secondly, you stand less of a chance of pickling your liver by drinking on a full stomach. Once the alcohol has entered your small intestine it is immediately absorbed into your bloodstream, and it is up to the liver to breakdown the alcohol molecule. Prolonged abuse leads to disease of the liver - cirrhosis, or scarification of liver tissue.


    • Pace Yourself - Yeah, Mom! I won't get too drunk! Seriously, though, this has saved me more times than I'd care to remember. Have a few; then drink some water, soda, or juice; then have a few more. I'm not going to say, "For every 16 ounces of beer, you should drink 32 ounces of clear water"! Hell, your bladder would swell up like a circus balloon and you would be spending more time in the bathroom than at the bar!


    • Before You Go To Bed Drink Lots Of Water and Eat Something Salty - I can't tell you how many times this was all I had to do to avoid the really bad side effects of a hangover. The idea here is re-hydrate your body before you go to bed. You can do this by drinking the water while eating something that's very salty - peanuts, popcorn, etc. This will help to absorb the water your body needs. Most of the time what you are feeling in the morning after is the dehydration of your entire body, everything else is a secondary effect of this.


Popular Myths Exploded Here!

Here are some little-known facts that your friends or family members may have shared with you that are either false or just plain dangerous.

    • Take An Aspirin Before Going Out Drinking: An old wife's tale, most certainly! The actual chemical process of alcohol breakdown into the bloodstream is due to an enzyme called "alcohol dehydrogenase". Essentially it removes one hydrogen atom from the alcohol molecule, ending up with "acetaldehyde". The body has another enzyme to break this down further. However, there have been studies that show taking aspirin BEFORE drinking reduces the action of alcohol dehydrogenase by as much as 25%! Also, certain anti-ulcer drugs have similar effects. Aspirin, therefore, is best used as a morning after medication.


    • Don't Drink Any Coffee, It'll Dry You Out: Yes, while it is true that coffee, like alcohol, is a diuretic a cup or to of Java in the morning is actually beneficial. One of the main ingredients in any over the counter pain medicine is - you guessed it! Caffeine! For some as yet to be explained reason caffeine increases the analgesic effectiveness of aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen, aspirin substitutes. (See "Stephen Braun" - Bibliography) Most headaches are caused by excessive tension upon the head or neck. Hangover headaches are more vascular in their nature. Cerebral blood vessels are controlled by adenosine. An increase in adenosine will cause blood vessels to relax thus the throbbing headache appears. Caffeine acts to block adenosine receptors, which in turn makes the blood vessels contract. This vasocontraction is what we feel when the painkiller kicks in. All the rest of the pill does is mask the aches and pains associated with "morning after" sickness.


    • Take An Aspirin Before Going To Bed: This was my big no-no. It falls under the pretext of pre-medication. It also is mildly hypochondriac! Aspirin, and its substitutes, are only for symptoms present - not perceived. Taking aspirin before going to bed to counter act a hangover is kind of like driving around with your airbag deployed. Besides, the caffeine in the pain medicine will only keep you from getting the sleep you need!


There's Got To Be A Morning After

Okay, so you went ahead and did it! You got too drunk, went to bed spinning and woke up in Hangover Hell! Now what do you do? Here's a list of tried and true methods for dealing with that "morning after" sickness we have all experienced.

    • Gatorade: Is It On You? Nothing is worse than trying to hold back a hurl. Go ahead! Talk to Huey on the Big White Phone! Pay Homage to the Porcelain God! Kneel and Spray! Just remember that age-old cure handed down by jocks, everywhere - GATORADE! Yes that lovely sports drink invented by doctors working with the University of Florida, Gators' football team back in 1965. (Thus, the name, Gatorade.) Believe it, or not, this stuff really works great as a pick-me-up cocktail when fighting the "morning after blahz". After you get the cold sweats, and up-chuck, you need to replace all of those electrolytes you've sweated out - Gatorade's your ticket! It helps also in re-hydrating your body by replacing needed fluids better than plain water does.


    • It Slices, It Dices, It Walks The Dog! Several 'over the counter' hangover cures are out there, none of which I have tried! It's not that I don't trust them, it's just that I have my own methods of dealing with a hangover once I've got one. Most of these products contain B-complex vitamin supplements something no self-respecting drunk would be without! However, you can get a big bottle of B-complex at Trader Joe's for dirt cheap, so go figure. The effects of alcohol can cause severe vitamin depletion over a period of time, as can over indulgence of coffee, or nicotine. I suggest a battery of "A-B-C's" will do the trick the morning after. A = Aspirin, or similar substitute; B = B-complex vitamin supplement; and C = a large dosage of vitamin C. While this works for me I can only stress the obvious caveat emptor: "Consult your physician before starting any change in diet or supplemental regimen."


    • Bread And Water: Let's face it. Being hung over is kind of like it's own little prison. So, as in olden days, you get bread and water for breakfast! Those of you who did "Neal & Spray" the night before may have a high acid stomach, which will welcome something soft and low in carb's. The bread will also help to counteract the acid and is easily digested. Water? Well, what can I say? Your body is more than 75% water while beer is almost 95%! Tank up with lots of cold, clear water - then get a cup of coffee, or tea, or Jolt Cola!


    • Gonna Go See A Man About A Dog! The 'Hair Of The Dog' cure goes back in mythology - it's nothing new. Actually, it kind of makes sense - if a dog bites you, you catch it, clip off some of its hair and cauterize it into your wound. Chances are the dog that bit you was rabid, so you'd have to kill it to get its hair, thus performing an equally important job. Nowadays, everybody knows what they mean by hair of the dog, or the ubiquitous 'morning pick-me-up'. I will attest, it has never worked for me but there are several Fellow Falcons out there that swear by the Bloody Mary Morning After Remedy. So, here's my recipe for the best-damned BM you'll ever have in the morning - Bloody Mary, that is! And, I've thrown in a few others, for good measure.


Some Hangover Recipes

The Best-Damned Bloody Mary You Ever Had!
2 oz. Vodka
6 oz. V8 Tomato Juice
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
¼ tsp. White Wine Worcestershire Sauce
several dashes Tabasco Sauce
several dashes Soy Sauce
pinch of Coriander
pinch of White Pepper
several pinches Celery Salt
celery stalk, for garnish; top & bottom cut & strings removed
lemon wedge, for garnish

Bloody Maria - Mary's Cousin Across The Border
2 oz. 100% Blue Agave Tequila
6 oz. Tomato Juice
several dashes Tapatio hot salsa
1 tsp. Lime Juice
pinch Coriander
pinch Chili Powder
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
lime wedge, for garnish

Bull Shot - The Muddy Bleary!
2 oz. vodka
4 oz. beef consomme or bullion
1 tsp. lemon juice
several dashes Worcestershire sauce
dash Tabasco sauce
½ tsp. prepared horseradish
pinch celery salt or seed

Irish Coffee - Does This Really Work?
1½ oz. Irish
strong, hot coffee
brown sugar

4 oz. best champagne, chilled
4 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice, (not from concentrate!)
½ oz. Cointreau
strawberry and banana slices
mint leaf, for garnish

In Conclusion & Bibliography: I hope this information in dealing with hangovers has helped some. I can only say that Fest Season is approaching and I suspect there will be several of you powering down one of these morning-after pick-me-ups! I can also seriously stress that you take it easy, and learn to enjoy the beer that is served. I wrote this article in jest for the most part. But there are many a truth said herein. I also must say, in closing, that if your hangovers persist, you should take the advice of John Fletcher when he penned:

"He who goes to bed, and goes to bed sober, Falls as the leaves do, and dies in October; But he who goes to bed, and goes to bed mellow, Lives as he ought to do, and dies an honest fellow."

As usual, if you are planning on making any of these potions, please feel free to call me about a half an hour before you serve them - I'll bring the ice and a tall glass! NUFF SAID - ENJOY! GRIZZ

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