Hangover cure is elusive but symptom relief fizzles and flows
NEW YORK - Revelers are preparing to ring in the New Year with parties and celebrations, and those whose heads are still ringing will spend their first waking hours of 2015 searching for hangover relief.
Although there are drinks, tablets and home-made remedies, a cure for the throbbing headache, nausea, fatigue and thirst that can follow a night of drinking has remained elusive.
"There are no hangover cures," said Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Koob said there is evidence that low to moderate drinking can have beneficial health effects, but hangovers are a symptom of a bigger problem: excessive drinking.
"There are no medications that you can take for a hangover," he added in an interview, "and we're not putting any money into it."
Along with increased thirst and dizziness, excessive drinking can irritate the stomach, cause blood vessels to dilate and lead to a drop in blood sugar causing general weakness and tiredness.
There is no cure for excessive drinking but there are products ranging from tablets and drinks to IV infusions to relieve hangover symptoms.
The makers of Blowfish offer a money-back guarantee if the effervescent tablets containing aspirin and caffeine sold over the counter do not work.
"In terms of the guarantee, we do occasionally have people take us up on it," said Blowfish founder Brenna Haysom, adding so far it has only been a few customers.
Aspirin and Alka-Seltzer are other popular remedies. In Australia, high-dose, B-vitamin tablets have been used for decades.
Researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, found that lemon-lime soda was effective in cutting the length of a hangover. They examined 57 beverages ranging from teas, herbal drinks and sodas.
Kevin Zraly, author of "Windows on the World Complete Wine Course" said dehydration plays a part in hangovers, so he drinks plenty of water.
"That's why for every glass of wine I consume, I will have two glasses of water," he explained.
For a more expensive option than a water bottle, hydration clinics have sprung up in London, Chicago, Miami and other cities to provide intravenous (IV) fluids.
For a fee ranging from $150 to $250, a doctor will attach clients to an IV containing saline solution with electrolytes, Vitamin B supplements and other formulations to help them recover from hangovers and jet lag.