WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. –
Feb. 14, 2017 – In medieval Europe, when astrology and blood-letting were
frequently employed in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, one therapy for rabies
was to place some pieces of hair from the rabid dog onto the victim’s bite
It didn’t work.
But it did give rise
to the notion that “the hair of the dog that bit you” – a drink – can cure a
hangover. This concept is rather ancient, too, having first appeared in print
It doesn’t work,
scientific evidence that having an alcoholic drink will cure a hangover,” said
Laura Veach, Ph.D., director of screening and counseling intervention services and
training in the Department of Surgery at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
“It will, at best, postpone one.”
A hangover develops
when an elevated concentration of alcohol in the blood caused by drinking falls
sharply after drinking stops. The symptoms – usually some combination of headache,
thirst, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and general grumpiness – reach their peak
when the blood-alcohol level hits zero.
“Taking a drink the
morning after may temporarily make you feel better because you’re putting
alcohol back into the system,” said Veach. “But it doesn’t cure the hangover;
it just sort of tricks you by masking the symptoms. They’re going to show up
So is there no cure?
“Rest, hydration and
aspirin can help some, but they won’t make the hangover go away,” Veach said. “The
only real cure is time.”
What if you want to
help somebody who’s tipsy, buzzed, smashed or otherwise inebriated get sobered
up? You give them black coffee, right?
“No, all that does is
give you a wide-awake drunk,” Veach said.
The liver, she
explained, detoxifies alcohol in the system and does so at only one rate, which
is about one drink per hour.
“There’s nothing we
know of that can speed up that process,” Veach said. “Not drinking coffee,
taking a shower, standing on your head, getting slapped, walking around outside
in the cold. Nothing.”