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Researcher says cure for hangover unlikely

January 1, 1997
Web posted at: 8:00 p.m. EST

LONDON (CNN) -- Because many factors are involved in hangovers, a cure probably is unattainable, according to an editorial in this week's British Medical Journal.

Ethanol, the chemical name for the alcohol in liquor, beer and wine, may play only a small part in producing many symptoms associated with hangovers -- thirst, headache, nausea, fatigue, sweating and tremors.

In fact, the symptoms are usually most severe once all ethanol has been cleared from the body.

The article's author, Dr. Ian Calder, believes organic molecules called congeners could be more responsible than ethanol. Congeners occur in varying amounts in alcoholic drinks, which could explain why some drinks seem to produce more severe hangovers than others.

According to Calder, one congener, methanol, is probably most responsible for symptoms. A small amount of ethanol (alcohol) will block the formation of methanol, thus easing a hangover.

Since alcohol is a diuretic (it purges fluid from your system) drinking water and taking aspirin before going to bed can reduce the severity of hangover symptoms.

A completely effective treatment may be undesirable, because the fear of a hangover prompts most people to moderate alcohol intake, Calder said.


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