Punch Drunk 

The Wonderful World of Hangover Cures


One week it’s coconut water, the next week it’s special pre-drinking “chaser” pills, after that it’s sacrificial lamb’s blood. We all have our hangover cures, none of which is actually proven to work.

This week’s new kid on the block is the children’s drink Pedialyte. You know, the bottle with the bears and balloons on it. The same formula that originally was intended to rehydrate kids depleted from diarrhea.

The makers of Pedialyte, Abbott Laboratories, say that since 2012, adult consumption of Pedialyte has grown by 60 percent, and that adults now constitute about a third of all Pedialyte drinkers. The high electrolyte content makes it similar to such sports drinks as Gatorade, but Pedialyte says its sugar content is much lower.

Pedialyte has even started marketing directly to adults with its See the Lyte campaign. “When last night’s party threatens to ruin today,” one ad says, “those in the know reach for Pedialyte.” Another ad depicts a card, seemingly from a child, telling mom that the drink “goes with both red and white.”

Also, I should mention that Pedialyte comes in popsicle form. Perfect for when you feel like hot death but it’s a summer Saturday and you have to take the kids to the park.

Now I’ve previously documented my struggles with the hangover in this column and I’ve also tried Pedialyte to lessen the agony. Before I explain why it’s bunk, let me use a pretentious literary device while also taking up space with one of my former hangover descriptions.

A true hangover manifests itself more deeply than a pounding head or heavy nausea. It cuts you to the core, makes you feel it in your soul. It forces you to re-examine every mistake you’ve made, every relationship you’ve squandered. A true hangover doesn’t bring a foggy brain, it brings painful, brutal clarity — even if the images are a bit hazy. It brings a nagging embarrassment, an important errand left undone that you can’t pinpoint. It brings nudity in front of a classroom of your peers, or at least it feels that way.

And this was from March 2013, when I was firmly ensconced in my late 20s. The ensuing two years of hangovers have almost made this description seem quaint by comparison.

The only, and I repeat only true hangover cure is time — which just flat-out sucks. Rehydration is an important factor, but it isn’t some miracle that will make you feel better instantly, and I reject anyone who chooses to refute that.

Eating before drinking, eating a big greasy meal after drinking, taking Advil before bed, taking Advil upon rising, taking a nip of booze in the morning to help wean yourself off, chugging water, chugging Gatorade, having one glass of water after every drink consumed, sweating out the hangover via workout, sweating out the hangover via sex, sweating out the hangover via steam room, cold showers, quacks administering IV bags full of electrolytes, drugs — these are all sworn hangover prevention and cure techniques. But you’re only easing the hangover and in some cases only procrastinating.

Some articles that say prevention, aka drinking in moderation, is the best cure, which is like saying that by not driving a car so much, you avoid car wrecks.

Perhaps we should consult an expert. Although he eventually succumbed to his alcoholism, there was no finer writer ever on the topic of booze’s effects than Kingsley Amis. He even wrote a collection of essays alternately called “On Drink” and “Everyday Drinking,” which should have been a red flag, but this was England in the ’70s. It was a different time.

In addition to writing by far the best fictional description of a hangover in his work “Lucky Jim,” Ol’ Kingers provided a step-by-step account on how he cures the physical and what he calls “the metaphysical hangover.” The hangover, he wrote, isn’t just a physical affliction, but a “unique route to self-knowledge and self-realization.”

He also says, “He who truly believes he has a hangover, has no hangover.”

So clearly I need to stop taking my advice from an alcoholic Englishman. Anyone who spends that much time (or even a whole newspaper column) writing about hangovers, might have a problem.

Maybe I’ll just stock up on Pedialyte. It’s strong enough for kids, but formulated for irresponsible drunks.

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at @jackgoesforth. S



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