I was recently made aware of an interesting article about hangovers in the New Yorker.  Needless to say I do not condone drinking in excess, but every once in a while it happens – and leads to the inevitable hangover.  Yes I have learned a lot about my own tolerance and I respect alcohol (and wine in particular) enough to ENJOY it and not ABUSE it.  BUT, that same love of wine has made saying “no thank you” very challenging when someone offers another glass of the good stuff – leading to the unfortunate “one too many” (or as the case may be and article is called “A few too many”).


The following are some excerpts from the article..

Through the lens of alcohol, the world seems nicer. (“I drink to make other people interesting,” the theatre critic George Jean Nathan used to say.)

Proverbs 31:6-7: “Give . . . wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” It works, but then, in the morning, a new misery presents itself.

By fairly common consent, a hangover will involve some combination of headache, upset stomach, thirst, food aversion, nausea, diarrhea, tremulousness, fatigue, and a general feeling of wretchedness. Scientists haven’t yet found all the reasons for this network of woes, but they have proposed various causes. One is withdrawal, which would bring on the tremors and also sweating. A second factor may be dehydration.

hangover symptoms are not just physical; they are cognitive as well. People with hangovers show delayed reaction times and difficulties with attention, concentration, and visual-spatial perception.

The severity of a hangover depends, of course, on how much you drank the night before, but that is not the only determinant…what kind of alcohol did you drink? In general, darker drinks, such as red wine and whiskey, have higher levels of congeners—impurities produced by the fermentation process, or added to enhance flavor—than do light-colored drinks such as white wine, gin, and vodka. The greater the congener content, the uglier the morning.

A woman who matches drinks with a man is going to get drunk faster than he, partly because she has less body water than he does, and less of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol.

..words for hangover: Egyptians say they are “still drunk,” the Japanese “two days drunk” the Chinese “drunk overnight”.  The Swedes get “smacked from behind”, Salvadorans wake up “made of rubber,” the French with a “wooden mouth” or a “hair ache.” The Germans and the Dutch say they have a “tomcat,” the Poles experience a “howling of kittens.”  The Danes, get “carpenters in the forehead.”  The Ukrainians have several words for hangover and, in keeping with the Jews-don’t-drink rule, Hebrew didn’t even have one word until recently (now hamarmoret, derived from the word for fermentation).

As for hangover remedies, they are legion.  When you ask people, worldwide, how to deal with a hangover, their first answer is usually the hair of the dog.  As for the non-alcoholic means of combatting hangover, these fall into three categories: before or while drinking, before bed, and the next morning. Many people advise you to eat a heavy meal, with lots of protein and fats, before or while drinking. If you can’t do that, at least drink a glass of milk. In Africa, the same purpose is served by eating peanut butter. The other most frequent before-and-during recommendation is water, lots of it. Proponents of this strategy tell you to ask for a glass of water with every drink you order, and then make yourself chug-a-lug the water before addressing the drink.

…the greasy-meal cure…Spicy foods, especially Mexican, are popular, along with eggs…the prairie oyster, which involves vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and a raw egg yolk to be consumed whole.  …in Asia and the Near East take strong tea. The Italians and the French prefer strong coffee. (Alcohol researchers: stay away from coffee—it’s a diuretic and will make you more dehydrated.)  Germans eat pickled herring; the Japanese turn to pickled plums; the Vietnamese drink a wax-gourd juice. Moroccans say to chew cumin seeds; Andeans, coca leaves. Russians swear by pickle brine.  Many folk cures for hangovers are soups.

The most widely used over-the-counter remedy is no doubt aspirin. Advil, or ibuprofen, and Alka-Seltzer—there is a special formula for hangovers, Alka-Seltzer Wake-Up Call—are probably close runners-up. (Tylenol, or acetaminophen, should not be used, because alcohol increases its toxicity to the liver.)

In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have come up with more specialized formulas: Chaser, NoHang, BoozEase, PartySmart, Sob’r-K HangoverStopper, Hangover Prevention Formula, and so on.

Fifteen million people in this country are alcohol-dependent.

damage done by hangovers— the cost to the U.S. economy, in absenteeism and poor job performance, is a hundred and forty-eight billion dollars a year.

Happy MODERATE wine tasting!


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