Good Morning, Moonshine

Jerk pours out some ideas to help with your early morning case of the horribles

By Tom Huddleston, Jr.

Ke$ha aside, not everyone wakes up the morning after a booze-fueled bender feeling like P. Diddy. In fact, if your first thoughts of the day are along the lines of, “Didn’t I used to have eyebrows?” and “Why am I outside?” then you’re probably feeling more like MC Hammer, circa 1996.

An affliction that inspired both the wildly popular 2009 movie with Zack Galifianakis and the 1888 Toulouse Latrec painting on which that film was based, the hangover is one of the few known downsides of binge drinking outside of cirrhosis of the liver and shirt misplacement (and maybe herpes). Though hangover remedies have been around for as long as man has had firewater to stoke the flames of insobriety the term itself was not used in its current context until the turn of the 20th century. According to Modern Drunkard Magazine — not your father’s drunkards — the term previously referred to “unfinished business” of any sort. Kind of like when you think you were done puking last night, but here comes some “unfinished business” that is determined to get you reacquainted with your toilet bowl.

With symptoms that include dehydration, fatigue, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and, of course, irritability, one of the primary causes of this phenomenon is the fact that alcohol intake ceases the production of vasopressin in your brain, which then causes your kidneys to send water directly to your bladder instead of it being reabsorbed. In 2005, the British Medical Journal published a study that claimed no known cure for hangovers existed and that the only way “to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is to avoid drinking.” Nevertheless, centuries before that study even came out, people were preemptively telling its authors to screw off by trying their hand at relieving the second-worst type of morning sickness.

In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder suggested raw owl eggs and fried canary to do the trick, but that cure is probably about as effective as any other folk-remedy — unless, maybe, the canary is beer-battered. After all, in 1957 a survey by Wayne State University folklorist Frank Paulsen found that many people believed in the curative powers of tomato juice, heavy fried foods and sexual activity — though that very well could have been a dubious ploy to ensure that a certain folklorist could score some tail at his local booze barn with just an order of onion rings and a can of V-8.

Other food and drink purported — often speciously — to have curative properties when it comes to hangovers, include artichokes, borscht, pizza, wheatgrass, tomato juice, and “the hair of the dog” aka more hooch. A Bloody Mary is one of the more popular morning-after drinks, though author Ernest Hemingway was known to mix tomato juice with beer instead of vodka to cure his grogginess. And, if you are truly desperate to cure those breakfast shakes, one supposed natural cure involves making yourself a bath with wasabi or hot mustard to draw the toxins out of your body. Unfortunately, though, most people would probably rather emit a full-bodied aroma of vomit and cheap vodka than smell like a hot dog’s best friend.

Of course, the real secret is to keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after alcoholic consumption. Every college freshman with a Nalgene bottle knows that. It’s just hard to remember to take that advice when you’re powering through your second rendition of “Manic Monday” at late-night karaoke.