Category Archives: Hangover

The End of Hangovers, Alcoholism… and Getting Drunk?

Could a Chinese pill end your hangover… and cure alcoholism? The trick is to keep you from getting drunk in the first place.

Imagine a pill that could instantly sober you up no matter how much you’ve had to drink, or a hangover cure that worked minutes after swallowing it. Hardened drinkers rejoice: researchers are about to begin human trials on an “alcohol antidote” that may soon offer a cure to alcoholism, reports New Scientist.

The drug is a chemical called dihydromyricetin, or DHM, and is derived from a Chinese variety of the oriental raisin tree, which has been used for at least 500 years in China as an effective hangover cure. So far the extract has only been tested on boozing rats, but with promising results.

“DHM will reduce the degree of drunkenness for the amount of alcohol drunk and will definitely reduce the hangover symptoms,” said Jing Liang, lead researcher in the study. “In time, it will reduce [an alcoholic’s] desire for alcohol.”

Today I Learned…

1 in 4 people never get hangovers.

More anti-hangover tips to help prepare you for New Year’s Eve in this Washington Post piece.

Review: Bytox Hangover Remedy Patch

Say what you will, but I am an unabashed fan of the Zaca Hangover Patch. Every time I’ve worn one, I’ve woken up the next day refreshed and feeling fine.

Now there’s another hangover-slaying patch on the market: Bytox. How would it measure up?

The idea is exactly the same: Put the patch on before drinking, and leave it on overnight. It sends vitamins and such through your body while you sleep. The makeup of Bytox is quite different than Zaca, which is heavy on Lycopene, Prickly Pear, and other such stuff. The Bytox patch contains Vitamins A, B12, B2, B3, B6, Pantothenic Acid, Folic Acid, D, E, K, and Thiamine (the lack of the lattermost being what Bytox ultimately blames hangovers on). Acai berry is the only new-age addition to the vitamin mix. The patch itself is also different, larger and feeling more like plastic than the cotton mesh Zaca. And while I love the idea of not having to swallow anything to get vitamins and such into the system, I found Bytox left a residue on my skin after I removed it.

While mileage will always vary with these things, ultimately Bytox didn’t seem to work as well for me as Zaca. While wearing it I slept restlessly, had bizarre dreams when I was out, and woke up with a mild headache. Bytox (like any hangover remedy) obviously can’t erase the effects of drinking, but it didn’t seem to do enough compared to other stuff on the market — though it is substantially cheaper. Willing to try it again, though.

Update Nov 2012: Removed from sale in the UK.

B- / $11.49 for 5 patches / bytox.com

bytox patch Review: Bytox Hangover Remedy Patch

Review: Drinkwel Multivitamins for Drinkers

A reader asked me about this product and the company behind it was kind enough to send a sample. The idea is nothing like anything else I’ve experienced to date: Multivitamins designed for drinkers.

Makes sense: Hangover remedies are almost always stuffed with various vitamins, so why not just incorporate those into your daily vitamin routine and skip hangover meds altogether?

I tried Drinkwel for several weeks and here’s what I have to report.

The ingredients of Drinkwel are lengthy and resemble your typical multivitamin, including Vitamins C, E, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, biotin, pantothenic acid, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, and chromium. On top of this are over a dozen amino acids and herbs, including N-acetyl Cysteine, Taurine, L-Theanine, kudzu, milk thistle, rhodiola, artichoke leaf, green tea extract, acerola, bupleurum root (no idea), schisandra extract (ditto), acai, gogi berry, and betaine HCl. Whew!

You are supposed to take three of these capsules daily, plus another three if you drink. The sheer quantity of stuff you are supposed to consume is the main problem here. No one likes taking vitamins and I sure as hell don’t like taking six funky-smelling capsules every day. Besides, with 90 in a bottle, if you’re taking six a day, you’ll be out of stock in just 15 days. That’s a sizeable investment (though hopefully you aren’t drinking that much and can stick with the three-a-day regimen most of the time).

As for the results, I can’t report much. I switched from a regular B-centric multivitamin to Drinkwel for the test and didn’t really feel any different whether I was drinking that night or not. While I didn’t drink to excess and stuck with the three-a-day regimen, I didn’t really feel any better or worse at any point in the day than I did with my normal vitamin.

At about day 12, however, I found I began to get headaches in the afternoon. I stopped taking Drinkwel at that point and the headaches continued for a few more days, then they went away. I can’t blame Drinkwel for this based on such minimal evidence, of course, but it’s possible that I had an allergic reaction to one of the many unusual ingredients in the capsules. I am wondering, though, if anyone else has experienced anything similar.

Bottom line: If you’re not taking a multivitamin, Drinkwel probably isn’t a bad way to get into the habit, but I’m not sure your mileage will vary much vs. a typical OTC multi. Let me know if it does!

$40 for 90 capsules (15-30 days) / drinkwel.com

drinkwel bottle Review: Drinkwel Multivitamins for Drinkers

Review: Blowfish for Hangovers

How refreshing! Blowfish contains no goji berry. No acai. No kudzu. No N-Acetyl L-Cysteine. None of that new age stuff at all.

Instead it has just two, old-school ingredients: Aspirin (500mg) and caffeine (60mg), delivered in an effervescent tablet.

Complicated? No, but it’s a recipe that works pretty well. I’m not sure what the advantage of dissolving a tablet into a pint of water, leaving it mildly fizzy, chalky, and lemon-limey is… but the taste is harmless enough to at least get you through most of a glass over the course of a half-hour. And, like I said, it’s reasonably effective at getting the job done.

That said, it’s tough to justify shelling out three bucks for what amounts to one tablet of Excedrin, just because it fizzes up like Alka-Seltzer. Still, if you find this delivery mechanism more appealing than a boring old tablet, well, knock yourself out.

B / $3 per dose / forhangovers.com

blowfish tablets Review: Blowfish for Hangovers

Review: Last Round Hangover Support

Promoted heavily alongside The Hangover Part II, Last Round is another entry into the long line of “shots” meant to make tomorrow, as they say, a better day.

The ingredients are curious: Kudzu, stevia, green tea, ginkgo, and Ural licorice extracts. No crazy chemicals. Not even any B or C vitamins, staples of the hangover cure trade.

The taste is pleasant and mild, a bit like warm, flat cola drink, plus a little cinnamon and clearly a licorice kick. The extra-large size — 2.4 oz. vs. the usual 2 oz. of these things — isn’t exactly welcome. If they could squeeze this stuff into a 1 oz. shot I’m sure we’d all be much happier trying to down them.

As it were, I drank half a bottle after a couple of drinks and before I went to bed. I am not exaggerating when I say that was the best night’s sleep I’ve had in over a year. Woke up refreshed and feeling amazing. And that was after just half a bottle!

Your mileage may vary if you’ve really overdone it — or maybe I was just lucky that one night. One thing’s for sure, though, I’m going to give this one another try. Kudzu! Who knew?

A- / $18 for six 2.4-oz. vials / last-round.com

LastRound Review: Last Round Hangover Support

Review: Security Feel Better Anti-Hangover Drink

The problem, as I’ve said here on the blog many times, with hangover prevention drinks is that they often taste so bad the hangover is actually preferable. That and they don’t really work.

Security Feel Better (yes, that’s the name) wins on both fronts: It tastes good, and it seems to be effective at making the morning after more of a success.

This small, shot-sized drink comes not in a plastic vial but a glass bottle, cuing you (hopefully) to its more upscale intentions. It’s been on sale internationally for years, and now it comes to us. The list of ingredients is very short and includes mostly plant and herb extracts: Artichoke, angelica root, lemon (vitamin C), fructose, and pear flavoring.

That’s it. Without a load of wacky chemicals, the taste is easygoing and mild. Slightly sweet, with a distinct pear flavor, and not overly syrupy. Really quite pleasant to drink, with no grimacing. Consumed before bedtime, it isn’t something you have to remember to take before you go out.

Effectiveness: No complaints. Though, as always, I consume alcohol in moderation, I woke up refreshed and ready to face a long day of packing and moving boxes, and I never felt remotely unable to complete the job. Is Security Feel Better to thank? I’m no scientist, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Beware the price tag, though.

A- / $11 (pack of two 2 oz. bottles) / securityfeelbetter.com [BUY IT HERE]

security feel better hangover drink Review: Security Feel Better Anti Hangover Drink

 

Review: Hangover Gone (aka Hang On)

I’m not saying I had a hangover, I’m just saying that perhaps the words “another bottle of Slovenian* wine” aren’t necessarily a good idea.

Another shot-based hangover remedy, Hangover Gone — “Powered by Cysteine” — claims to cure your hangover in “three phases.” First it helps to metabolize acetaldehyde, “alcohol’s main and most toxic byproduct.” Second it uses glucose to “provide the extra fuel needed for cellular metabolization.” And third it uses a blend of herbs and vitamins — milk thistle, artichoke, goji berry, and ginger extract, plus Vitamins, C, E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, Folate, B12, Pantothenic Acid, and more — to “rid the body of harmful toxins.”

The delivery vehicle is the now-well-known 2 ounce shot, served at room temperature. The taste is unpalatable in the extreme, a dark (sour, it says) cherry cough syrup sweetened to within an inch of its life. I am baffled by this approach to hangover remedies: When you’re not feeling so great after a night out, the last thing I want to do is put an even worse taste in my mouth.

Sadly, Hangover Gone didn’t do much for my post-Eastern-bloc-originated wine flu. It wasn’t until I took some Advil that the situation started to improve but, as is always the case with products like this, individual mileage will likely vary considerably. For me, though, Hangover Gone just didn’t live up to its goals. Or its name.

* It could have been Estonian. I keep getting that wrong.

D / $3 per 2 oz. shot / hangonshot.com

hangover gone Review: Hangover Gone (aka Hang On)

Review: PreToxx Hangover Remedy

PreToxx — now reformulated and repackaged since our 2009 review and featuring a capital T instead of a lowercase one — still has one great thing going for it: It’s a pill, so choking it down is easy.

Designed to be consumed before you drink, one PreToxx pill contains the following: Vitamins B1, B6, B12, and C, Prickly Pear Extract, Milk Thistle (these two are the new elements), and N-Acetyl L-Cysteine, a popular hangover remedy ingredient.

The directions indicate you should take two to four of these pills before you start drinking — and take one pill a day to “support a healthy liver.”

I tried PreToxx and found that generally I felt fine the next day, if a bit sluggish. The problem was more immediately after I took it. There’s no good way to explain it, but I felt weird while I was out. A little foggy in the head, with a funny taste in my mouth. I tried it twice with similar results each time.

Was this an allergy? A weird reaction to something in the supplement? Or something coincidental and unrelated? I’m not sure. Your mileage will certainly vary, but for me, the odd side effects outweighed any benefit received the following day.

C / $20 for 60 pills / [BUY IT HERE]

pretoxx Review: PreToxx Hangover Remedy

Review: Zaca Organic Hangover Patch

I’ve reviewed all manner of hangover remedy products in the last few years, but Zaca takes the cake for the strangest one of all: It’s a patch that you wear on your body (a la a nicotine patch) while you drink (and on into the next day), designed to combat the effects of alcohol without you having to swallow a thing.

File under “it’s so crazy, it just might work.”

The tiny mesh bandage is organic and all-natural, and the ingredients are as follows: Vitamin C, Lycopene, NAC, B1, Prickly Pear, B5, B3, Magnesium, Taurine, Lipoic Acid, and Milk Thistle, all in 1mg to 5mg portions. I can’t comment on how well any of these elements absorbs through the skin, but I will say that I was impressed with how well Zaca seemed to work. (Though with these kind of things, you never really know.)

I put the patch on an hour before going out for the evening, and when I got up in the morning I felt just fine. The only possible side effect I experienced was having to pee more than I normally might have had to.

The cool thing about Zaca is that you slap it on before you go out — when you might actually remember it. So many hangover products require drinking some nastily-flavored liquid, making the cure worse than the problem. Pills meant to be consumed while you’re drinking are also a problem: I don’t have a purse, where do I keep these things? Morning-after pills are fine… but by then the damage is done.

I was skeptical of Zaca at first, but it really does have all the hallmarks of a great idea: It’s as tasteless as humanly possible (since you don’t eat it), it prevents hangovers rather than remedies them, and it seems to actually work. It can even slip into your wallet… in case of emergency. Give it a whirl.

A / $20 for 6 patches / zacalife.com

Zaca hangover patch Review: Zaca Organic Hangover Patch

Review: Spike Your Juice Homemade Booze Kit

I’ve seen some weird stuff in my day, but Spike Your Juice is pretty much the strangest of them all.

Put simply, Spike Your Juice is a system for turning ordinary fruit juice into good old-fashioned hooch. Inside the colorful box you’ll find a few little mystery packets. You pour the packets into an off-the-shelf 64-ounce bottle of fruit juice (no artificial sweeteners, no refrigerated juice — essentially that means cranberry or grape juice — and let ‘er rip. You stop up the bottle with an included airlock, and wait 48 hours. Presto, you’ve got booze.

OK, the mystery should be easy to solve. What’s in the little packet is yeast (plus a little extra sugar), and that yeast goes to work on all the sugar in the juice in relatively short order. It takes only a few hours for the juice to start bubbling and blurping a gray/purple scum into the airlock, and it’s clear Spike Your Juice is hard at work. The juice is said to reach a maximum of 14% alcohol, putting it on par with wine. That’s right folks, you’re making homemade pruno, sans the dirty socks and the trash bag.

What does the end result of Spike Your Juice taste like? It’s surprisingly fizzy on the tongue, and it has a clear alcohol bite. But it’s sweet — at least after the first two days (the company says it will become drier the longer you let it sit). At first, not unpleasant — like a really cheap red wine that’s been bottled by someone with dirty hands — and then the aftertaste gets you. Musty and funky, it’s got a kick that, as my aunt used to say, will bite you back.

I can still taste it.

Rating this one just does not make sense, as I can only see it being attempted out of morbid curiosity, a dare, or both. Supposedly hugely popular in Europe.

$10 for six packets (enough for 3 gallons of hooch) plus airlock / spikeyourjuice.com

spike your juice Review: Spike Your Juice Homemade Booze Kit

Book Review: The Quick-Fix Hangover Detox

quick fix hangover detox Book Review: The Quick Fix Hangover DetoxSubtitled “99 Ways to Feel 100 Times Better,” this slim tome (just 99 pages long including the index) is a straightforward list of recipes and advice for correcting the worst part of drinking: the hangover.

The advice is split into three sections – before, during, and after you drink – and the advice varies from simple to obtuse. Lots of this stuff you already know: Drink lots of water. Take B vitamins. Don’t drink too much.

Some of the advice will likely be new to you: Drink a mixture of blended lettuce, broccoli, and spinach. Eat celery to help with nausea. Gin and tonic is a depressant.

Still more of the advice is contrary to what you probably think you know: Don’t take pain relievers in the morning. Caffeine is bad for hangovers.

Even more of the advice you can safely dismiss: Use crystals to help recovery the next day.

Some of the advice isn’t hangover advice at all: Drinking is fattening.

There’s no telling how much of this information is legit, but it mostly sounds OK and the bulk of it comes down to not drinking too much and making sure you eat lots of fruit and vegetables during your recovery. Good advice, I suppose, provided you’ve read this tome and stocked up well before that big night out gets underway.

C / $10 / [BUY IT HERE]

Science: Oxygenated Booze = No Hangover

Some people swear by the “don’t mix alcohols” or “only clear alcohols” technique in their quest to avoid a hangover. Now scientists say they have a new method for limiting the negative effects of alcohol consumption: Imbuing alcohol with oxygen bubbles.

To wit:

The drinks with the added oxygen content sobered people up 20-30 minutes faster, under the influence of the rather potent alcohol they used for the trials. 20% alcohol is around the strength of fortified wine, soju, or a very strong mixed drink, so while shaving a half hour off your drunken tomfoolery might not seem a great deal, when you’re trying to fall asleep at night and combating the spins, you’ll appreciate it.

The researchers also asked what would change if someone were to drink multiple oxygen-enriched drinks over the course of the night. Would there be a cumulative effect? Again, the answer was yes: People who drank oxygenated booze had less severe and fewer hangovers than people who drank the non-fizzy stuff.

Remember, we’re talking about oxygen bubbles, not CO2, which is what most carbonation is composed of, so don’t go guzzling Jack and Coke and assume you’ll be all well in the morning.

Review: ResQwater

ResQwater is a clear beverage in a single-serve bottle, meant to be consumed “before, during, or after” a hangover… though the name would certainly imply it’s here to rescue you once you’ve already been struck down.

Sweet and a little syrupy, it’s fortified with N-acetyl L-cysteine, fructose, prickly pear juice, vitamins B1, B6, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium, all in a water base. It’s a rather simple recipe for what is usually a complicated category, but hey, maybe simple actually works better in this case.

ResQwater’s problem is not so much its taste — the fructose used as a sweetener is a little jarring, but palatable, and the “natural apricot tea flavor” is recognizable only through the tiny type on the label — but rather its consistency. It’s a lot thicker than it looks, syrupy and almost a little slimy in its character. That worked against me this morning when, feeling less than 100 percent, I found ResQwater was fine at first but soon became difficult to drink. Ultimately I gave up after finishing only half the 16 oz. bottle.

Yet maybe 8 ounces is all it takes. I wouldn’t say I had a crushing hangover this morning, but I was certainly operating at less than full strength. An hour later, I was feeling fine. Go figure.

B- / $14 for four 16-oz. bottles / resqwater.com

resqwater Review: ResQwater

Review: Go Time Hangover Relief

Go Time is a rarity in hangover relief products: You take it the morning after, rather than while you’re drinking or before you go to bed — when no one ever remembers to take these things. No, Go Time is intended for use when you’re suffering at rock bottom.

It also benefits from being not a drink you have to choke down but a pill, a kind of scary-looking blue capsule that, when opened, is filled with what looks like sawdust. Just swallow one down with some water (take two for “extreme” hangovers, we’re told) and that’s all it takes.

Had a few drinks last night and this morning was decidedly sluggish. Popped a Go Time and, you know, I did feel better, and have been alert and fine all day (though nine hours later I’m feeling a bit of a crash coming on). What to credit in Go Time for this? It’s full of upteen ingredients, only a few of which I know what they are: vitamins C, B1, riboflavin, B6, B12, dextrose, glutamic acid, succinic acid, cinchona bark, guava leaf extract, fumaric acid, magnesium trisilicate, L-cystein, caffeine (less than a cup of coffee, they say), and alpha lipoic acid. That’s a lot of acid, but hey, I’m feeling pretty good.

A- / $3 per pack of two capsules / gotime-hangover-products.com

go time hangover Review: Go Time Hangover Relief

Preemptive Apology

For all whom I might offend tonight, I offer a preemptive apology in the style of these high-society Chinese gentlemen… from the year 856.

Click through for the elaborate original. Here it is translated…

Yesterday, having drunk too much, I was intoxicated as to pass all bounds; but none of the rude and coarse language I used was uttered in a conscious state. The next morning, after hearing others speak on the subject, I realised what had happened, whereupon I was overwhelmed with confusion and ready to sink into the earth with shame.

Review: THC The Hangover Cure

THC and Water Review: THC The Hangover CureTHC The Hangover Cure — yes, the name is completely coincidental — comes in powder form, contained in a long tube. You mix it with water — 12 to 16 oz. — and guzzle it down after “a night of debauchery” and before bed.

What’s inside? A whole bunch of stuff: Supersized doses of vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, panothenic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, chromium, sodium, potassium, l-cysteine, l-glutamine, and that age-old additive, milk thistle extract.

Sounds good, but consuming THC is tricky at the end of a night. A pint of chalky, vaguely Hawaiian Punch-flavored water is a lot to ask of someone with four or five drinks in him, and getting this whole dose down before bed wasn’t the easiest accomplishment of my night.

As for the effectiveness? It didn’t feel like THC did much for me after a long night at the Rickhouse — I experienced difficult sleep and had a nagging headache the next day. But maybe it would have been even worse had I not had the THC? Oh man, God help me.

B- / $20 for 6 doses / drinkthc.com

thc the hangover cure Review: THC The Hangover Cure

Review: Pretoxx Alcohol Supplement

What do I like the most about Pretoxx? It comes in pill form, so no need to choke back some nasty liquid in the guise of hangover prevention.

Pretoxx is pretty simple stuff. One pill has 600mg of Vitamin C, 100mg of Vitamin B-1, and 200mg of NAC. That’s it. Basically, it’s vitamins, which you’re supposed to take to the tune of one pill per every two drinks, before you head out to the bar.

I tried it as directed, generally felt fine the next day after a long night of drinking… though quite tired. Hard to know without clinical tests one way or the other… but I can say it doesn’t hurt, and it doesn’t taste like crap, so I can’t really complain.

B+ / $20 for 60 tablets / pretoxx.com

pretoxx hangover supplement Review: Pretoxx Alcohol Supplement

Review: Code Blue Recovery Drink

Billed as “the world’s first complete recovery drink,” Code Blue launched earlier this year with the goal of pre-de-hangover-izing the youth of America. (As with most modern hangover remedies, the idea is to drink this stuff after drinking alcohol — or during, or even before — and you’ll feel fine the next day.) And I say youth because it’s unlikely a grown man would chug a bottle of this stuff the before bedtime. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Let’s start with the blue. The bottle you see is opaque, but it really needn’t be: Code Blue is the color of Windex, tinged darker perhaps with a bit of cobalt blue tempera paint.

Next there’s the taste. It’s fortunately not like Windex at all, but I’m struggling to describe it properly. Lots of sweetener (agave nectar) is the key component, with a vague, fruit-and-chemical aftertaste. Imagine Gatorade watered down then cut with vegetable oil and you’ll have an idea of what Code Blue tastes like. Take the company’s advice and drink it ice cold — preferably in a glass and on ice, as the bottle warms up quickly. When Code Blue rises past fridge temperature it loses its modest charms.

The ingredient list is full of healthy-sounding curiosities: reduced glutathione (a big antioxidant we’re told), prickly pear juice (promotes liver function), and a host of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes (a proprietary blend). A 12-oz. bottle has no caffeine and just 60 calories. Oh, and I should point out that it’s not carbonated.

The big question, of course, is how well it works. On this point I should give Code Blue props. It isn’t easy to get a whole bottle down, but I found it did indeed help hangover symptoms — at least modestly — when consumed either at the end of the night or the next day. Of course it’s hard to say whether a glass of water and an Advil would have done the job just as well, but considering that Code Blue might actually be healthy to drink, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

B- / $3.49 per 12-oz. bottle / drinkcodeblue.com

code blue recovery drink Review: Code Blue Recovery Drink

Review: XyliMelts

What’s the worst part of a hangover? The headache? The upset stomach? The hatred toward your fellow man?

For some, it’s the dry mouth: No matter how much water you drink, that cottonmouth comes back in minutes, keeping you awake all night and aware of all the other symptoms.

Enter XyliMelts, a bizarre solution but one that merits attention: XyliMelts inlcude 500mg of xylitol, an “oral lubricant” and natural sweetener which stimulates saliva creation. To use it, you pop a XyliMelt in your mouth, and once you have it situated between the cheek and gum for 30 seconds, an adhesive side sticks to your gums and keeps the spit production going for anywhere between 1 and 6 hours.

You can use it during the day if your mouth is abnormally dry, but Drinkhacker readers will probably be more interested in the nocturnal application: That’s right, because XyliMelt sticks to your gums, you can leave it in overnight (technically you’re supposed to use two for a full night’s sleep, but I did fairly well with just one).

I tried it last night after Whiskeys of the World — when I knew I’d need it — and the results were kind of shocking: It worked. Yes, it’s a little disconcerting to try to sleep with a tablet slowly dissolving in your mouth, but the constant lubrication is more than worth the oddity, which you get used to in 30 minutes or so. The taste is fine, too: Lightly minty and moderately sweet. (There’s also a “plain” version.)

Given the scary warning that “some bacteria may evolve a resistance to xylitol,” this may not be something you’ll want to use every single day… but to ease the pain from the occasional bender, XyliMelts might be an excellent part of your arsenal. At 12 bucks for 80 tablets, it’s a great deal too.

A- / $12 for 80 tablets / orahealth.com

xylimelts Review: XyliMelts