Can coffee ‘cure’ a hangover?
Whether it’s a quick after-work drink with colleagues or a full-blown formal party,
most of us tend to socialise more at this time of year, and that can lead to drinking a
little more alcohol as well. Unfortunately, we then have to suffer the consequences
of over-indulgence the following day. While hangovers affect everyone differently,
some of the more common symptoms are fatigue, an aching head, weakness and
vomiting. Most of us have a ‘tried-and-tested’ hangover cure, from English breakfast
fry-ups to raw eggs, but what’s scientifically most likely to work?
“Hair of the dog”
The name comes from the medieval belief that if you were bitten by a diseased
dog, placing a few of the dog’s hairs in the wound would lessen the consequences.
This hangover ‘cure’ involves taking a small amount of the same alcohol you were
drinking the previous night in order to relieve hangover symptoms, and some people
swear it works! The initial symptoms of a hangover can be caused by alcohol
withdrawal, and having another dose can temporarily alleviate those symptoms.
Medical experts don’t recommend this method though, and you’ll probably end up
feeling worse than you did before.
The Prairie Oyster
There are a number of hangover ‘cures’ involving raw eggs, of which the best known
is the Prairie Oyster – a mixture of Worcestershire sauce, brandy, raw egg and
angostura bitters. A similar, non-alcoholic version can be made with olive oil, tomato
ketchup, Tabasco, raw egg and lemon juice.
There’s some scientific basis for this one – eggs contain amino acids to help rid your
body of toxins, and tomatoes are a good source of antioxidants which will boost your
immune system – but it’s probably better to stick to the non-alcoholic version.
The Bacon Sandwich
The good old bacon butty is many people’s ‘cure’ of choice – and again, it seems
scientists agree. The combination of carbohydrate and protein breaks down into
amino acids, and the smell of the drying bacon stimulates your taste and smell
receptors, helping kick-start your system.
The Cup of Coffee
The most popular hangover ‘cure’, coffee is generally the first thing partygoers reach
for the morning after – and it seems it could be the most efficient method of all.
Research by scientists in Philadelphia shows that caffeine can help to counteract
the effects of too much alcohol, and when taken in conjunction with a painkiller, can
help to relieve headaches. If you’re feeling delicate, turning on the coffee machine
and treating yourself to a restorative drink made with freshly-roasted coffee beans
is almost guaranteed to help you feel human again, but remember that too much
caffeine can irritate an already-sensitive stomach. For the best results, alternate
cups of coffee with glasses of water or fruit juice to keep you hydrated, and get you
back on your feet again quickly.