The hangover is a phenomenia after excessive alcohol consumption. The exact cause is not yet known, but an influence of fusel oil and methanol is discussed, as well as its degradation products formaldehyde and formic acid. Alternativly or alltogether there may be also an influence directly from the toxic acetaldehyde as the primary oxidation product of ethanol. The onset withdrawal of endorphines and lowered blood sugar levels could also be influencing. The dehydrogenation effect of alcohol and the reduction of water-soluble vitamins (B1, B6, C), as well as changes in salt budget (Ca, K, Mg) leads to thirst. Recent studies have also shown negative influences on the need to dream sleep-phase (REM sleep).
Systematic investigationsto with 1230 students (Slutske et al., Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 2003) have shown, that a total of 13 different symptoms, among them an extreme thirst (due to dehydration), increased feeling of tiredness and headaches occured, followed by feelings of weakness and concentration difficulties. Furthermore, sensitivity to light, outbreak of sweat, anxiety, depression and tremors were occasionally observed. Increased amounts and frequency of drinking increased the probability of an hangover as well as and the number and severity of symptoms. People which have in their families alcohol disorders, the likelihood of an hangover also increase.
While spirits with low content of congeners like vodka the hangover effect is rarely, but it is strongly more likely by consumption of spirits with high content, i.e. brandy, whisky, fruit brandies, liqueurs. Also if remnants of the yeast fermentation process are not completely removed or mixed drinking of different spirits, the hangover effect may be observed.
Prevention: eating of fatty foods (delay of absorption).
Remedy: no patents available, but balancing the loss of fluids and minerals and supply the body with oxygen (movement on fresh air). Use emergency tablets against headaches. New on the market: cure-x, a food supplement, which replaces the loss of vitamins, minerals and trace elements with a dosage on the recommended daily intake (RDA).
Least likely to help are the so-called anti-hangover funds, offered in the United States and the Netherlands for about 2 years as food supplements which should slow down the oxidation of ethanol to acetaldehyde by glucose. The necessary NADH for the oxidation of ethanol should be intercepted by reaction with the glucose. At the same time, the acetaldehyde dismantling is accelerated by tartaric acid and fumaric acid. Other ingredients are L-glutamine and ascorbic acid. The question remains what will be happen with the ethanol as a narcotic-acting poison for the cells, which remains then longer in the body. Moreover, an extremely large (stoichiometric) amount of glucose will be needed.