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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Health Corner has got you covered for your post weekend recovery

Hangovers. The toxic feeling after a night of heavy drinking that often consists of a headache, dizziness and a sense of regret, ultimately leaving one wondering if there is a cure to relieve these acute symptoms.

While the only way to completely avoid getting a hangover is to simply not drink, there are many research-backed methods used to ease symptoms. In fact, many scientists have come up with ways to alleviate a hangover, such as consuming Sprite or even cactus extract.

Before we dive into how to reduce the effects of a hangover, let’s take a look at the mechanism by which alcohol is metabolized in the body.

How do bodies process alcohol?

Essentially, anywhere from 2-8 percent of alcohol consumed is lost through urine, sweat or even through breathing—this is where breathalyzers come in.

The remaining 92-98 percent is metabolized in the body, with 20 percent of that being absorbed through the stomach, and 80 percent absorbed through the small intestine.

Almost instantly, however, the alcohol reaches your brain and begins acting as a depressant. In fact, alcohol is a potent neurotoxin and heavy alcohol consumption has shown to have a direct correlation with brain damage.

The human body’s primary defense against alcohol is the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, or ADH.

ADH is responsible for the oxidation of ethanol—the first step in eliminating alcohol from the body. In fact, studies have shown that men have a higher level of ADH in the body, allowing for faster alcohol metabolism.

How can metabolism be increased in order to get quicker hangover relief? To find out, here are some methods scientists suggest you try out.


Researchers at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, analyzed the effects of over 57 drinks on hangover duration. They found that Sprite, in particular, was extremely effective at speeding up the breakdown of alcohol byproducts from the body, reducing the duration of hangover symptoms.


A study published in Journal of Food Science from 2009 found that consumption of asparagus actually improved the efficiency of two enzymes involved in alcohol breakdown, ridding the body of alcohol more quickly. Additionally, they discovered that asparagus actually has protective effects on the liver from the toxicity of alcohol.

Coffee and Painkillers

A study published in 2011 led by Michael Oshinsky discovered that coffee and nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs blocked hangover-associated headaches in rats. Oshinsky and his team induced hangovers in rats and infused them with either caffeine or an NSAID, which they found relieved their headaches.

A Hearty Meal

One of the most important things to do both before and after a night out is to eat. In fact, if ingested on an empty stomach, alcohol can affect the brain in as little as one minute. Some research has even shown that drinking on a full stomach will help keep blood at a lower blood alcohol content level.

Alcohol, however, can lead to a condition known as hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, causing symptoms such as dizziness or light-headedness. As a result, consuming a big breakfast in the morning will cause blood sugar to rise back to normal, aiding in alleviation of a hangover.

Prickly Pear Cactus Extract

A study conducted by Dr. Jeff Weise of Tulane University discovered that prickly pear cactus extract, when consumed prior to alcohol, reduced hangover symptoms by 50 percent. Specifically, the subjects who consumed the extract experienced reduced nausea, dry mouth and a better appetite. Before you go searching for a prickly pear cactus nearby, note that health food stores commonly stock this supplement.

Skip the whiskey, or all darks for that matter

A study conducted in 2009 by researchers at Brown University discovered that darker liquors, such as bourbon and whiskey, tend to worsen the pain associated with hangovers. Darker liquors contain more toxic, natural chemicals known as congeners, which may cause us to get sicker the day after drinking. Specifically, the study found that bourbon contained 37 times more congeners than vodka. It’s important to note that while adhering to lighter colored liquor won’t completely rid you of a hangover, it will certainly help ease some of the symptoms in comparison to dark liquor.

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