The notion that eating a fatty breakfast with eggs is one miracle cure that just might work. Eggs are an excellent source of the amino acid L-cysteine. This same amino acid can bind to acetaldehyde and block its toxic effects. Most of this theory comes from research done on rats in the 1970’s. Rats were given a lethal dose of acetaldehyde and either L-cysteine, thiamine (vitamin B1) or both. Researchers found that those rats that survived were given both L-cysteine and thiamine. There are two reasons for this lucky outcome. Both L-cysteine and thiamine bind to acetaldehyde to form a stable and non-toxic product. Acetaldehyde is also a very toxic chemical and causes oxidative damage to various organs. L-cysteine helps replenish glutathione; your bodies primary anti-oxidant defense. Sadly, there is no proof that L-cysteine will help with hangovers in people. You might have heard about N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). NAC is similar to L-cysteine but it is a little better utilized by the human body. So will eating a fatty egg breakfast help with a hangover? Probably not, but it will help to replace lost electrolytes, carbohydrates and fluids. It also might help to settle your stomach. Or maybe you should just stick to dry toast and lots of water.
Certainly taking vitamins before bed will help with a hangover? Don’t the B-vitamins help with alcohol metabolism? Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H self administered thiamine (vitamin B-1) injections to help him sober up. Sorry, not going to help. It is true that chronic alcohol intake is associated with lower amounts of thiamine in the body. Chronic alcohol ingestion can deplete the body of this important vitamin. That is why alcoholics tend to have thiamine deficiency diseases: nerve damage, heart disease, confusion and problems with muscle coordination. When you give extra thiamine, these alcohol induced health problems tend to get better. Thiamine is not directly involved in the removal of alcohol from your body. Actually, niacin (vitamin B3) is more activity involved in the removal of alcohol from the body. Again taking extra niacin will not help with a hangover.
There was one old study which demonstrated that high doses of vitamin B6 can help improve hangover symptoms by 50 percent. Sadly, it was a semi-synthetic form of this vitamin that is not available at the health food store. The doses used were also very high, about 1200mg a day. Oddly, the researchers did not know why or how this vitamin worked.
What is the real hangover treatment proven by medical science? Sadly there is none. I’m sorry if your hopes for a cure were shattered. The oldest remedies still work best: try to sleep it off, stay hydrated and eat well. Perhaps prevention is the best option. For each pint you drink, follow that with a chaser of water. Pace yourself; I know it tastes good but think about the possible consequences in the morning. Don’t forget to eat something. The presence of food in the stomach, especially high fat foods, will slow the absorption of alcohol into the body. On the morning of the hangover, try to eat bland and simple foods to help settle your stomach. For me, an apple a day keeps the hangover away. By all means take a good quality multivitamin. It might not help with a hangover, but there are many other benefits for your body. Treatment of specific hangover symptoms might be helpful. Consider taking dimenhydrinate (Gravol or Dramamine) for symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Placing an icepack on the head, or the back of the neck, might be a better idea for headaches than over the counter painkillers. Or just drink a big glass of water and go back to bed. Maybe these horrible feelings will be a deterrent from future overindulgence. Probably not; painful memories fade fast.