What are the celebrity’s favorite hangover remedies?
“Mercy is a drink that is almost like a health elixir – packed with amino acids, vitamins, minerals and herbs that protect your system against the inevitable hangover and that flush you can get from drinking.”
Before you buy this statement, you should know that Ms. Paltrow is part owner of the company and is speaking as a marketer, not a medical expert.
Rihanna recommends using the intravenous “Party Girl Drip” to get you right. It’s a solution of vitamins and minerals called a Myer’s Cocktail, invented over 30 years ago by Baltimore physician John Myers. It contains magnesium, calcium, various B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and B12) and vitamin C. The vitamins are typically given in larger doses than are present in vitamin pills.
And now Kardashian/Jenner clan member Brody Jenner is throwing his hat into the ring, becoming a paid spokesperson for Resqwater (pronounced “rescue water”).
Jenner tweeted out this message, and was seen this week on Extra with Mario Lopez, hawking the product:
The formal name for a hangover is veisalgia, which is a combination of the Norwegian word for “uneasiness following debauchery” (kveis) and the Greek word for “pain” (algia). A number of factor come into play to cause the symptoms associated with a hangover- dehydration, headache, nausea, and that general feeling of overall feeling crummy. These include:
Alcohol enters the brain and inhibits the release of a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin normally tells the kidneys to reabsorb some of the water which they have filtered, instead of sending it all down to the bladder. Making less vasopressin causes more urine to go to the bladder (thus all those extra bathroom breaks!) and if the amount of urine is greater than the amount of fluid intake, can lead to dehydration.
Some electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, are always lost in the urine. Excess urination can lead to low sodium and potassium- leading to fatigue and nausea.
Dehydration can cause headaches because the other organs try to replace for their own water loss by stealing water from the brain. The brain to shrinks slightly in size, pulling on the membranes that cover the brain and connect it to the skull. Stretching of the pain receptors in those membranes results in a headache.
Alcohol is processed by the liver. One of the breakdown products of alcohol is called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is fairly toxic, so the liver uses an enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, along with a chemical called glutathione (which contains high quantities of cysteine), to break it down further to the nontoxic acetic acid (the stuff in vinegar):
With excess drinking, the body runs short on glutathione, allowing for a build up of acetaldehyde, at least until the liver can produce more glutathione.
Alcohol is absorbed directly through the lining of the stomach. This can irritate the lining. It also increases the production of stomach acid which can lead to abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting.
According it’s website, Resqwater is “a scientifically formulated drink to help your body fend off the ill effects of a hangover.” They recommend drinking a bottle “with every few drinks and another before bed.”
Looking over the ingredients, probably the most important is the water! Simply drinking an adequate amount of water along with alcohol will eliminate hangover symptoms for many people. Adding some electrolytes and sugar to replace losses wouldn’t hurt. (Sounds like a typical sports drink, yes?)
The other ingredients take a little more research to determine their potential helpfulness:
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) comes from the amino acid cysteine. It can bind acetaldehyde and aid in the production of glutathione.
It is sold as a dietary supplement commonly claiming antioxidant and liver protecting effects. It is used as a cough medicine because it breaks disulfide bonds in mucus and liquefies it, making it easier to cough up. It is also used in the treatment of acetominophen (Tylenol) overdose.
A search of PubMed revealed NO scientific studies that look at the role of NAC in the treatment of hangovers. There are some early results that there may be some benefits of NAC in patients with chronic liver disease.
Milk thistle is is an annual or biennial plant of the Asteraceae family. It’s scientific name is Silybum marianum.
Silybum marianum is used in traditional Chinese medicine to “clear heat and relieve toxic material, to soothe the liver and to promote bile flow.”
The active ingredient in milk thistle is called silymarin. Silymarin acts as an antioxidant by reducing free radical production and may act to block binding of some toxins to liver cells. Although there is some scientific support to its use in the treatment of liver disease and in the treatment of certain poisonings, there are no studies done regarding its use in the prevention of hangovers.
Prickly pear, scientific name Opuntia is a genus in the cactus family, Cactaceae. It is used in juices, jellies, candies, teas, and alcoholic drinks. American Indians used prickly pear juice to treat burns. It also has a long history in traditional Mexican folk medicine for treating diabetes and for prevention of hangovers.
According to WebMD:
“Taking prickly pear cactus before drinking alcohol might reduce some symptoms of hangover the next day. It seems to significantly reduce nausea, anorexia, and dry mouth. However, it does not seem to reduce other hangover symptoms such as headache, dizziness, diarrhea, or soreness.”
Dr. B’s bottom line:
Resqwater may be useful in the treatment and prevention of a hangover, however at $4-5/bottle, using it may become expensive if you have to buy multiple bottles (as recommended).
Some reviewers of Resqwater complained that the taste may not be that palatable.
It may be just as advantageous to drink water or a sports drink, and it’s a whole lot cheaper!