Starve a fever, feed a hangover, or so the saying should go. Toast slathered in butter soaks up a variety of sins. Wash it down with a Bloody Mary – and the bar will beckon once again.
Recovering from party season used to be this simple. However, for those of us past our twenties, no matter the greasy breakfast or hair of the dog, we tend to arrive at the same conclusion: more Moët, more problems. But as more people in the UK reach for low- or non-alcoholic beverages this year, there is another growing sector that is doubling down on drinkers: hangover helpers. From tonics to tablets to intravenous drips, there are more ways than ever to take the edge off the morning after.
An assortment of new supplements claim to ward off the consequences of merriment. Nomo’s night-out recovery system is two-fold: two or three activated carbon capsules should be swallowed before bed, followed by two vitamin capsules (that include caffeine) the next morning.
Nomo says the carbon compound it has developed is tailor-made to absorb specific toxins, while reducing tiredness and boosting energy levels. Charcoal is regularly used to treat poisonings – it binds to toxins in the gut and prevents absorption – though studies suggest that alcohol is absorbed too quickly by the body for it to have much effect. Recently, after a few too many sugary cocktails (my kryptonite) I sampled the Nomo system and felt surprisingly fresh the next day. Perhaps it was simply a bullet dodged, but it was a relief nonetheless.
Vitamin patches are a growing market too. Lifebio’s After Party Patch offers a cocktail of efficacious ingredients such as B vitamins, milk thistle and other antioxidants to aid post-party recovery – delivered transdermally via an adhesive patch stuck to the hip, wrist or the top of the foot. (Think of it as a reverse nicotine patch.) Delivering the goods this way means that they are absorbed in small amounts consistently over a 10-hour period, first by the skin, bypassing the digestive system and heading straight to the bloodstream.
The real emergency ripcord, however, is the intravenous tube. Boutique IV clinics that specialise in an assortment of detox drips have sprung up across the UK. Medical professionals can also be booked on demand to administer drips at home, via a handful of beauty and wellness apps. There is even a drip kiosk in west London’s Westfield shopping centre called “Get a Drip”, should one feel particularly fragile between Gucci and Louis V.
These IV drips are perhaps the most effective route to recovery: they deliver a large amount of fluid to the body in a relatively short period of time. Dr Joshua Berkowitz, medical director of IV Boost UK, says: “Whatever [additional vitamins] are in the fluid are there to be beneficial, but it’s the fluid itself that helps wash out the metabolites of the alcohol and rehydrates the patient – and often they’re feeling bad mostly from dehydration.”
Drips are not risk free: if they are not administered correctly, they can be a source of infection or have other serious consequences. The experience “should be medically led,” Dr Berkowitz says. “It should be a consultation between a doctor and a patient, and it should be done in an environment where all of the emergency equipment is available.”
“Even though someone may come through the front door and say, ‘I’ve got a stinking hangover,’ I’ll still go through their medical history, find out all that I can about their medical condition and what medications they may be taking,” he says.
Hangover remedies, though more sophisticated today, have been around for centuries. Some of the earliest date back to Ancient Rome; Pliny the Elder suggested eating raw owl’s eggs, sheep’s intestines or fried canary to take the edge off. In 1886, Dr John Pemberton brewed one of the most famous at his Atlanta home – Coca-Cola. Although not originally intended as a medicine, a walk round an office building in December might demonstrate that “the red fire engine” is still widely consumed for that purpose today.
Doctors say that there is no total cure for a hangover. There are, however, many ways to prevent more severe hangovers, says Dr Thivi Maruthappu, an expert in nutrition and skin health. “Steer clear of drinks such as whisky, cognac and tequila that are high in toxic chemicals called congeners, which contribute to hangovers. Colourless drinks are a better choice.” (And, it goes without saying, moderate your intake.)
If you end up with one anyway, the NHS offers advice to help alleviate the painful symptoms of overconsumption, such as drinking broth or isotonic drinks. It also suggests avoiding alcohol for at least 48 hours: “Of course,” says Dr Maruthappu, “a hangover makes this advice easier to follow.”
Do you have a fail-safe hangover cure? Let us know in the comments below