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The Sunday morning special: Curing the painful and persistent hangover

Curing the hangover
To reduce the effects of hangovers, alternate drinking water between margaritas [Image credit: Michael Napoleon via flickr] By Ben Guarino | Posted May 15, 2013 via scienceline.org

The smell of regurgitated margaritas is surprisingly pleasant — the room now has a fresh citrus scent, like a handful of orange Tic Tacs. The rest of your existence, however, is misery. You are enervated, dehydrated and in desperate need of a shower. When you pick up the trash bag filled with taco bits, orange margarita mix and too much tequila, the garbage feels as warm as a suppurating wound. Not for the first time, you promise you’ll drink less in the future. Not for the first time, you wonder what makes hangovers so difficult to get rid of.
“Hangovers consist of four components,” says Dr. Jason Burke, a Las Vegas anesthesiologist who claims to be “the world’s first hangover specialist.” Since a hangover cure has to treat multiple symptoms — dehydration, alcohol withdrawal, too much of the molecule acetaldehyde and not enough of the molecule glutamine — true therapies are hard to find.
That hasn’t stopped a long line of bleary-eyed carousers from trying. The ancient Assyrians purportedly ingested a powder made from swallows’ beaks and myrrh to treat their hangovers. Pliny the Elder, the ancient Roman philosopher, recommended munching on a fried canary. Today, some Germans swear by katerfrühstück, or “hangover breakfast,” which consists of sour pickles and herring. I’m fond of black coffee and an omelet.

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