Through The Static

May 24, 2008

Hangovers: When Ur Body Says, “AlcohoL, I am, Like, sooooo OVER You!”

Filed under: Drinking,Food,Health,Randomness,Research,Science,Uncategorized,Wake Up Call — bobbleheadedbob @ 7:09 am

Alcohol does not do your body good. You know this, I know this, we know this. Unless your liver is 19 years old again, chances are that your body and mood will not be all that kickin the day after. Alcohol does not care that you have the body of an Olympic champion (Oh, Bay-JING!) or the mind of Gaius Baltar.

Alcohol will treat you like it does anybody else — seduce you with that woozy, boozy, I-Think-I’m-in-Love-With-Captain-Morgan feeling, build you up, make you feel like you’re somebody special.  That is, until you’ve hit the bottle one too many times and find your head in the toilet by the end of the night.

That’s the good captain’s way of telling you that he needs space. From YOU.

And after that woozy, boozy feeling abandons you, you’re either left with a light case of dehydration and ew-my-stomach-feels-grody or YOU JUST WANNA FRAKKING DIE, DIE, DIE! Alcohol — you are the beverage world’s biggest asshole. There, I’ve said it, and I’ll say it again — but I won’t because I like to avoid redundancy whenever I can.

You show up in that shiny, shiny bottle, over shiny, shiny ice, in a shiny, shiny red cup — beautiful and swimming with the promise of Good Times. And Good Times are had — I’ll give you that much.

But on top of the headaches, the dehydration, the sensitivity to light, the upset stomach, the unsociable feelings, the befriendment of the nearest toilet — on top of all that, you just leave a real bad taste in my mouth. And it will be a good long while before I shall desire to kiss you again.


Fellow Gauchos! Josie Cuervo does not love you! He only loves himself!

Is it better to have boozed and losed than to have never boozed at all?

Not a huge fan of the snarky, bourgeois, elitist publication that is known as The New Yorker, but I shall be posting up excerpts for those interested in the science and culture of the hangover. I shall try to avoid posting the more ethnographical and anthropological snippets, but — SIGH — it is, after all, The New Yorker:

A Few Too Many

Is there any hope for the hung over?

A hangover peaks when alcohol that has been poured into the body is finally eliminated from it—that is, when the blood-alcohol level returns to zero. The toxin is now gone, but the damage it has done is not.

Hm… sound familiar??? Oh, Jim Beam, an asshole is an asshole is an asshole.

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. Alcohol interferes with the secretion of the hormone that inhibits urination. Hence the heavy traffic to the rest rooms at bars and parties.

This is why we don’t break the seal! Gauchos, you know what it is that I am talking about!

The resulting dehydration seems to trigger the thirst and lethargy. While that is going on, the alcohol may also be inducing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which converts into light-headedness and muscle weakness, the feeling that one’s bones have turned to jello. Meanwhile, the body, to break down the alcohol, is releasing chemicals that may be more toxic than alcohol itself; these would result in nausea and other symptoms. Finally, the alcohol has produced inflammation, which in turn causes the white blood cells to flood the bloodstream with molecules called cytokines. Apparently, cytokines are the source of the aches and pains and lethargy that, when our bodies are attacked by a flu virus—and likewise, perhaps, by alcohol—encourage us to stay in bed rather than go to work, thereby freeing up the body’s energy for use by the white cells in combatting the invader. In a series of experiments, mice that were given a cytokine inducer underwent dramatic changes. Adult males wouldn’t socialize with young males new to their cage. Mothers displayed “impaired nest-building.” Many people will know how these mice felt.

Yeah, life sucks when you’re hungover.

But 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.

Not a mind-blowing revelation, but all the more reason NOT to drink right before finals. It’s all about the timing, peoples! I would also avoid in partaking in activities such as sudoku, puzzles, and Jenga during this period. The A-game just won’t be there, mon amis. Nup.

Hangovers also have an emotional component.


Kingsley Amis, who was, in his own words, one of the foremost drunks of his time, and who wrote three books on drinking, described this phenomenon as “the metaphysical hangover”: “When that ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you, start telling yourself that what you have is a hangover. . . . You have not suffered a minor brain lesion, you are not all that bad at your job, your family and friends are not leagued in a conspiracy of barely maintained silence about what a shit you are, you have not come at last to see life as it really is.”

Oh, so not like anger. I don’t get the self-hatred part, since I’m more mad at ze bottle than at myself. Like, “How could you DO this to me, when all I’ve ever done was RUV you?!”

The severity of a hangover depends, of course, on how much you drank the night before, but that is not the only determinant. What, besides alcohol, did you consume at that party? If you took other drugs as well, your hangover may be worse. And 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. Then there are your own characteristics—for example, your drinking pattern. Unjustly, habitually heavy drinkers seem to have milder hangovers. Your sex is also important. 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.

Hmmm… interesting…

::takes notes::

So alcoholics have milder hangovers… hmmm… yes… that’s one way to go about fixing that… And as for red, red wiiiiiiine, I won’t have it stay close to meeeee…

Apparently, your genes also have a vote, as does your gene pool. Almost forty per cent of East Asians have a variant, less efficient form of aldehyde dehydrogenase, another enzyme necessary for alcohol processing. Therefore, they start showing signs of trouble after just a few sips—they flush dramatically—and they get drunk fast. This is an inconvenience for some Japanese and Korean businessmen. They feel that they should drink with their Western colleagues. Then they crash to the floor and have to make awkward phone calls in the morning.

Ah ha haaah. hah. Huh. So FUNNY you are, New Yorker. (Yoda voice: “And outdated your jokery it is.”)

But for reals, let’s take a minute here. Aside from the science of it all, “they feel that they should drink with their Western colleagues.” Is this fact or projection of a 1980s White observation? Awkward phone calls to whom? Trying to impress whom?

Oh, look at the funny East Asian businessman who’s trying so, so hard to impress the big, strong, White American Greek-lettered investor. Riiiiiiiiight.

Like prior to Western investment, alcohol or drinking cultures didn’t exist in Japan or Korea.

Oh, White people. Sometimes your egos ASTOUND me!

Such are the projections of self absorption and American exceptionalism.

Okay, back to CURES for the aftermath of the bottle, which, ironically, is MORE ALCOHOL…

As for hangover remedies, they are legion. There are certain unifying themes, however. When you ask people, worldwide, how to deal with a hangover, their first answer is usually the hair of the dog…an English manual, Andrew Irving’s “How to Cure a Hangover” (2004), devotes almost a hundred pages to hair-of-the-dog recipes, including the Suffering Bastard (gin, brandy, lime juice, bitters, and ginger ale); the Corpse Reviver (Pernod, champagne, and lemon juice); and the Thomas Abercrombie (two Alka-Seltzers dropped into a double shot of tequila)Many people, however, simply drink some more of what they had the night before. My Ukrainian informant described his morning-after protocol for a vodka hangover as follows: “two shots of vodka, then a cigarette, then another shot of vodka.” A Japanese source suggested wearing a sake-soaked surgical mask.

…Jones’s theory is that the liver, in processing alcohol, first addresses itself to ethanol, which is the alcohol proper, and then moves on to methanol, a secondary ingredient of many wines and spirits. Because methanol breaks down into formic acid, which is highly toxic, it is during this second stage that the hangover is most crushing. If at that point you pour in more alcohol, the body will switch back to ethanol processing. This will not eliminate the hangover—the methanol (indeed, more of it now) is still waiting for you round the bend—but it delays the worst symptoms.


hmmm… they start em young these days…

HAh! So MORE alcohol doesn’t cure hangovers! I knew it, Josie Cuervo — ur a JERKface through and through!

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.

A recently favored antidote, both in Asia and in the West, is sports drinks, taken either the morning after or, more commonly, at the party itself. A fast-moving bar drink these days is Red Bull, an energy drink, mixed with vodka or with the herbal liqueur Jägermeister. (The latter cocktail is a Jag-bomb.) Some people say that the Red Bull holds the hangover at bay, but apparently its primary effect is to blunt the depressive force of alcohol—no surprise, since an eight-ounce serving of Red Bull contains more caffeine than two cans of Coke. According to fans, you can rock all night.

I dunno if I’d consider Red Bull a sports drink, but it does keep the passing-out phase at bay. Wouldn’t Gatorade be more appropriate than Red Bull with all them electrolytes? Mmmm, watery lemon-limeness.

::salty sweetened drool::

Now to the sorrows of the morning. The list-topping recommendation, apart from another go at the water cure, is the greasy-meal cure. (An American philosophy professor: “Have breakfast at Denny’s.” An English teen-ager: “Eat two McDonald’s hamburgers. They have a secret ingredient for hangovers.”) Spicy foods, especially Mexican, are popular, along with eggs, as in the Denny’s breakfast. Another egg-based cure is the prairie oyster, which involves vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and a raw egg yolk to be consumed whole. Sugar, some say, should be reapplied…

denny's bucket

Many of the cures probably work, she said, on the same distraction principle as the hair of the dog: “Take the spicy foods, for example. They divert the body’s attention away from coping with the alcohol to coping with the spices, which are also a toxin. So you have new problems—with your stomach, with your esophagus, with your respiration—rather than the problem with the headache, or that you are going to the washroom every five minutes.” The high-fat and high-protein meals operate in the same way, she said. The body turns to the food and forgets about the alcohol for the time being, thus delaying the hangover and possibly alleviating it. As for the differences among the many food recommendations, Neuman said that any country’s hangover cure, like the rest of its cultural practices, is an adaptation to the environment. Chilies are readily available in Mexico, peanut butter in Africa. People use what they have.

Ahhhhhhhhhh… hmmm…

ANYWAY, so there’s no REAL cure for the hangover, I suppose. Just techniques of delayal and distraction. Que American!

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.) Also commonly recommended are Vitamin C and B-complex vitamins. But those are almost home remedies. 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. In some of these, such as Sob’r-K and Chaser, the primary ingredient is carbon, which, according to the manufacturers, soaks up toxins. Others are herbal compounds, featuring such ingredients as ginseng, milk thistle, borage, and extracts of prickly pear, artichoke, and guava leaf. These and other O.T.C. remedies aim to boost biochemicals that help the body deal with toxins. A few remedies have scientific backing. Manuela Neuman, in lab tests, found that milk-thistle extract, which is an ingredient in NoHang and Hangover Helper, does protect cells from damage by alcohol. A research team headed by Jeffrey Wiese, of Tulane University, tested prickly-pear extract, the key ingredient in Hangover Prevention Formula, on human subjects and found significant improvement with the nausea, dry mouth, and food aversion but not with other, more common symptoms, such as headache.

Well, shucks, that’s what all those painkillers are for!

BobbleBot’s Remedies/Distractions?

* A big bowl o combination pho. Extra limes. (buh… for vitamin C… buh…)

* Two packets of Emergen-C (the kind you get at Trader Joe’s or wherever) into a full liter of water, taken with 2 Vitamin B tablets taken before bed. (this actually softens the blow by a LOT in the morning.)

* Sitting in the shower.  For how long?  Buh… for as long as it takes.

* Staying away from peoples. Beds, ze internets, and DVDs will do just fine. Buh…

* Staying away from alcohol. FOREVER. (And by forever I mean at least a few solid weeks.)

Bobblebot’s Lessons Learned:

* Do not mix alcohol with medication, even if it is “homeopathic” medication. You may find yourself as that girl/boy/boi-without-shame, and not the life of the par-tay. Not that the bobblebot is speaking from personal experience.

* Do not drink alone. That is just sad, sad, SAD.

finding drunk White people on google images is way, wayyyy too easy.

* Do not keep a Cosco-sized bottle of Smirnoff next to your desk. (Oh yes, I have borne witness.)

* Stop after you feel the first blush of love booziness. Greed is a SIN for a REASON — a sin you shall be living out in the morning if you choose to indulge.

* Please refrain from drunk dialing — or worse, drunk texting. Chances are you’ll misspell so many acronyms and bungle up so many emoticons that the recipient will not know that you so desire a night of debauchery, or that you want her to carry your baby, or that you were the one who accidentally-on-purpose hit his dog with your car.


* Drink when YOU’RE in a good mood. Nobody likes the Angry Drunk, the Sad Drunk, or the Cynical Drunk.

sad drunk

* Drink WITH people who are in a good mood. Nobody likes to partay with the Suicidal Drunk, the Violent Drunk, or the Pretentious Drunk.

* Basically, drink and be merry!

* Just be wary of making out with ze bottle more than what is necessary. An asshole is an asshole!



  1. You know what phenomenon I experienced for the first time pretty recently…a hnagover when I didn’t even get drunk the previous night. I got buzzed to the point that another drink would have got me drunk, but I was not drunk, i remember everything that happened, and yet I woke up with a pretty bad hangover. That’s not fair!

    Comment by disciplepete — May 24, 2008 @ 10:43 am | Reply

  2. where did you find these lovely pictures of puking pumpkins?!?!

    Comment by yeti — May 26, 2008 @ 8:29 am | Reply

  3. DisciplePete: U have experienced MALFUNCTION. MALFUNCTION. MALFUNCTION. Humanoids call this aging, but for bobblebots, this merely indicates that somebody’s liver is in need of an oil change.

    yeti: my sources are currently confidential. Secrets are DERICIOUSNESS.

    Comment by bobbleheadedbob — May 26, 2008 @ 9:15 am | Reply

  4. shin ramyun.

    the ramyun (not raMEN) of your people, is THE ultimate cure.


    Comment by porkpie — June 6, 2008 @ 12:30 am | Reply

  5. bobblebot wants shin ramyun poured over pork pie.


    magically dericious.

    Comment by bobbleheadedbob — June 6, 2008 @ 6:00 am | Reply

  6. Good morning, Hey! How are you? Happy late Halloween! :D!

    Comment by DenzelWP — November 2, 2009 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  7. You have my polar bear image on your site, did you pay for use of this image of mine?? It is copyrighted. I would like proof that you have been given permission to use it. Thank you.

    Comment by Cindy — May 14, 2010 @ 4:51 pm | Reply

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