Friday, December 29, 2006

Time may not cure all wounds, but helps hangovers

The only sure way of avoiding a hangover is abstinence. For the rest of us, time is the answer.

There are almost as many folk cures to treat the unpleasant, painful condition that some have dubbed the wrath of grapes as there are beers, wines and whiskies that cause it.

In Finland, saunas are a preferred antidote, in the belief that they increase the circulation and therefore sweat out alcohol's toxins faster. Russians are said to prefer cabbage soup to replenish lost water and nutrients.

In Britain, some swear by the concentrated yeast spread Marmite on toast (or, in Australia, Vegemite) while others tout Berocca -- a fizzy vitamin supplement made by Bayer AG. The fizzy tablet of choice in the United States is Alka Seltzer, also made by Bayer.

In some parts, a Prairie Oyster (a concoction egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, Tabasco sauce and salt & pepper) has its loyal boosters. Aspirin, ibuprofen tablets, cold showers, hot baths, strawberries and peanut butter with honey are not uncommon suggestions.

Still others will swear by Green tea, pickle juice, cola drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks or a hair of the dog that bit you (another alcoholic drink).

Some argue a greasy meal such as bacon and fried eggs or perhaps pizza will do the trick. Others favor ice packs, milkshakes, a blend of herbs with cardamom, ginger and citrus, or dietary supplements containing borage, artichoke, and prickly pear.

Unfortunately none of these remedies work, according to researchers from the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth.

After a comprehensive review of the medical trials, abstracts and studies, the scientists reported in the British Medical Journal: "No compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover.

"The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is thus to practice abstinence or moderation," they said in December 2005

For those for whom neither abstinence nor moderation is an option, be comforted in the knowledge that time is really the most successful treatment. Scientists reported in Alcohol Health & Research World that "hangover symptoms will usually abate over 8 to 24 hours."

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited

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