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Only time and plenty of liquids can cure the hangover blues

After the first two shots of tequila you were giddy, three shots later you were brilliantly funny if somewhat given to expletives, six shots and the agave goddess presented you with the meaning of life; the vision was so beautiful, you took a seventh to celebrate.

Bloody Mary is a famous hair-of-the-dog curative for hangovers. According to John Roache, tomato juice sans the vodka “would be good for the body because its fortified with sugars, vitamins, and carbs.” Next time you tie one on, try this pick-me-up: celery salt, black pepper, tabasco sauce, chile pepper, worcestshire sauce, and dash of lemon juice swirled into tomato juice with a celery stick.

In the morning, all that remains of that glorious insight is a monumental headache and cottonmouth. When you close your eyes, the world is a Tilt-a-Whirl; when you open them, your belly is still spinning. You’ve no one to blame but yourself, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve some relief — life must go on.

According to John D. Roache, psychiatry professor and chief of the Division of Alchohol and Drug Addiction at UT Health Science Center-San Antonio, the pounding in your head is a symptom of dehydration and lowered blood pressure, which cause the blood vessels in your brain to dilate as they try to bring more fluid to the brain. The toxic by-products of alcohol metabolism — acetaldehyde and, as another doctor informed us, formaldehyde, the very stuff used to preserve dead people — also contribute to a woozy stomach and the “shakes.”

The only prevention is self-control. “The best is to reduce the amount you drink, to drink slowly, and to eat while you drink,” said Roache. Contrary to myth, food does not absorb alcohol, but it does help increase the speed with which the body metabolizes, or processes, alcohol.

“Afterwards, if you’ve done your worst, you’ll want to replenish your fluids and get some good nutrition,” added Roache, who recommends milk or vegetable juice over Gatorade or water.

But what about the more famous curatives: toast and honey, Vegemite, ginseng, and raw egg? “I don’t know of any research that has positively proven the effectiveness of any cure,” answered Roache.

At Liberty Bar, Michael Campbell has a similarly practical take on the ol’ bottle flu. “The only option is aspirin, several glasses of water, and sleep,” said Campbell, a bartender. “Keep drinking or stay in bed.”

When pressed for an old wives’ tale, Campbell mentioned that locals will eat menudo, a Mexican stew with tripe, after tying one on. Why? He had no idea, so we called Pablo Rodriguez, a native San Antonio son, who eats Mi Tierra’s menudo every Sunday after Mass. “I think it has something to do with the spiciness,” said Rodriguez. “My grandmother used to tell me that the chile in the broth replenishes vitamins A and C, soothes the stomach, and stimulates appetite.”

Locals will eat menudo, a Mexican stew with tripe, after tying one on. “I think it has something to do with the spiciness. My grandmother used to tell me that the chile in the broth replenishes vitamins A and C, soothes the stomach, and stimulates appetite.”

– Pablo Rodriguez

“It’s also just a Mexican tradition to eat menudo on New Year’s. It wakes you up.”

Andrew O’Calliham, who in the Whole Body section of Whole Foods, also takes a soothing approach. After a night of drinking, he downs a packet of Emerg’en-C packet — “because a little extra C is always good” — and L-theanine, a green tea amino acid that helps promote relaxation and stress reduction, which “the brain loves.” “It works pretty fast, we live on it here,” says O’Calliham.

“I like to recommend those two together, because they’re inexpensive and easy to get, but if you know you are going to be partying all week, you might also try milk thistle.”

O’Calliham says milk thistle, with alpha lipoic acid, will detox your liver and clean you right up. And that, said Roache, is the rub. “The best thing to remember is that there is serious danger in intoxication and impairment,” he explained. “Anytime you are intoxicated to the point of being drunk, you are killing brain cells and, if you drive, you are endangering others.

“A hangover is telling you that you are hurting your body.”

By Susan Pagani

Little worse for the wear

PartySmart’s herbs no match for ye olde Hair of the Dog

New Year ’s Eve was a time to get loose. I sent off 2005 with a party at my pad, a moderate-sized, yet well-stocked mixer with my friends — wine, beer, champagne, and Scotch — all the ingredients for a less-than-pleasant New Year’s Day. Yet, even as I finished my first round, I vowed to start my healthy resolution of daily exercise on the first day of 2006, and took a PartySmart pill to ensure a pounding head would not keep me from a pounding run.

PartySmart, a stimulant-free herbal supplement made with wild chicory, king of bitters, grapes, dates, bhumyamalaki, and amalaki helps the liver eliminate acetaldehyde, the toxic by-product of alcohol that causes liver, brain, and heart damage over time. On the market in India and Great Britain since 2001 and 2004 respectively, PartySmart seems to help the before-10 p.m.-bingers across the pond without any side effects.

Did it work? First, my disclaimer: I didn’t take the pill as directed for “best results.” The manufacturers recommend popping it 30 minutes before your first drink and I dosed 45 minutes after my first sip of Chardonnay. When I woke the next morning I didn’t feel fine, just much better than I should have felt. My stomach wasn’t hurting, my head wasn’t pounding, and I was in fairly high spirits.

Before we start calling PartySmart the new miracle drug, please note that the pill did not erase the exhaustion of a late night nor the dehydration. Containing inactive preservatives with trace amounts of sodium, it likely contributed to my unquenchable thirst the next day.

Usually a one-cup-of-tea in the morning caffeinator, I drank three cups of joe and still felt groggy -that is, until I indulged in mimosas at brunch. The champagne may have contributed to my quick break in resolve. I ended up not pounding any pavement New Year’s day. There should be one day of grace, anyway.

M.L. Sharpe

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