Samui Wining & Dining
Never Again
It’s ‘Hangover Season’ again but why is it that we suffer so much and can we prevent it?


Never AgainOuch! It’s 11:45 am and the world is distinctly fuzzy. Your brain has shrunk down to the size of a shrivelled old prune and its last quivering cell is working overtime to summon some form of magic relief from this horrific ordeal. Even though you’d sworn you’d never let yourself get into this state again, you’ve done it. Yes, you’ve guessed. It’s the morning after the night before and you’ve just woken up with a massive hangover.


Holidaymakers on Samui aren’t exactly renowned for their regular attendance at the local book clubs and knitting classes. And let’s face it, this hedonistic reputation is not totally unjustified, especially during the Christmas and New Year festivities when most of the population may well have had the odd tipple too many. And whilst the effects of a hangover are well documented and fairly universal, the cure for such an affliction is not. George Clooney says, “My hangover cure is simple – don’t get one.” And we all know that prevention over remedy is the best solution, but it’s not always that straightforward. Beer before wine and your fine, wine before beer and you’re … Or was it the other way around? It’s all a bit confusing. Rhymes aside, managing one’s alcoholic consumption like you would the King’s procession is somewhat unrealistic and, let’s face it, boring. Sorry George.


Robert Benchley once said, “The only cure for a real hangover is death.” And whilst that may be the case, that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun trying. The Puerto Ricans rub a slice of lemon into their armpits before the drinking commences to ward off the aftereffects. The Germans, on the other hand, chow down on pickled herrings. The Romanians prefer tripe soup. And the Polish slurp on sour pickle juice. The Sicilians take the culinary buck, however, with their remedy of dried bull’s penis. And the beverage award goes to the Asiatic Indians who drink a glass of their very own urine.


For those who prefer cures of the more palatable variety, going down the ‘hair of the dog’ route is a popular avenue. The replenishing of alcohol is said to numb the pain and dull the senses, making the whole hangover experience just that little bit more bearable. TV chef, NNigella Lawson, opts for a Prairie Oyster – a drink made from an egg yolk, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, brandy and vinegar, and best downed in one. It’s not pretty. But if that’s all a bit too much then a good ol’ Bloody Mary – made from vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco, garnished with a celery stick – might be more appetising for you.

For many, though, nothing beats a good fry-up to quell those hanging blues. And if it’s good enough for Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, then it sure as hell should be good enough for us mere mortals. Cameron reckons nothing beats a good sausage and bacon sandwich. And whilst Kate opts for the same, she adds sausage to the mix for that extra kick of greasy goodness. But what to drink with this lard-drenched heart hazard? It’s orange juice for Kate and beer for Cameron. Nice.


Maybe a quick look at what’s actually going on in our bodies during a hangover will help dispel a few myths. The headache and dizziness part is caused by dehydration of the brain. Not only is alcohol a diuretic, but it also makes you urinate more so you loose more and more fluids as the night goes on. Interestingly, your brain shrinks when dehydrated so when you feel as though your brain is rattling around in your skull, it actually sort of is. With all this diuretic business taking place you lose a lot of essential salts and electrolytes that maintain nerve and muscle function, thus inducing that all-too-familiar lethargy. Alcohol also significantly reduces your blood sugar, which is why you get the shakes. The nausea, vomiting and indigestion part of it is caused by alcohol irritating the stomach lining. And to top it all off, alcohol stops you from attaining deep sleep so even though you may have slept for eight hours, much of that has been REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and is therefore not the restful type.


So let’s take those five components that constitute a hangover – dehydration, loss of essential salts and electrolytes, low blood sugar, irritated stomach lining and lack of sleep – and apply them to some of the hangover cures we’ve looked at. Nigella’s Prarie Oyster contains an egg yolk, and eggs are helpful as they contain cysteine, an amino acid that helps to get rid of built-up destructive chemicals due to alcohol. But the brandy? Well, that’s just delaying the inevitable. A fry-up with egg and bacon is not a bad shout though as you’ve got the chemical-eradicating eggs alongside some salty bacon to replenish lost sodium and electrolytes. The vitamin C in orange juice hurries along the liver into metabolising the stomach-irritating alcohol and the sugar in it will help you begin feeling human again. So couple the meal with that and some water for hydration and you’re onto a winner. Then have an afternoon nap and, hey presto, you’re cured!


Unfortunately, as we all know, that is not the case. And whilst some remedies may reduce the symptoms to a certain extent, there is no foolproof cure per-se. When it comes down to it, you can rub all the lemons into your armpits as you like, but the likelihood is you’ll still wake up feeling pretty terrible. For some, the fun of concocting a bizarre cocktail may just be the distraction they need from the pain of a hangover. For others, sticking to science by downing glasses of dissolvable vitamin and electrolyte drinks is the way to go. There are grounds for both being somewhat effective, so really it’s just down to the individual. And to finish up, we’ll let English celebrity, Dermot O’Leary, have the last word with his obvious but undeniably attractive solution, “My hangovers get worse the older I get, so the only way to get over a hangover is to stay horizontal the next day.”


Christina Wylie


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