It's 8 a.m., your alarm has just gone off, and you feel as though you've been hit by a truck.
Happy new year! Now if you can only remember what you did last night that caused a fog the size of Canada to descend on your brain.
Clearly, drinking was involved: Hangovers are inextricably linked to high levels of alcohol in the bloodstream. Your body is experiencing a mild reaction (even though it doesn't feel "mild") to an overdose of alcohol and certain "toxins" associated with alcohol consumption. This reaction is exhibited in a combination of physiological ways: dehydration (the alcohol has forced evaporation of a certain vital portion of the body's water); nervous shock (you're coming off the effects of a mild overdose of a depressant drug, so your nerves are displaying the great Newtonian natural law of action/reaction by going into a relatively hypersensitive state); and malnutrition (pumping all that alcohol and liquid through your body has effectively flushed away a significant supply of your storage of vitamins and nutrients, and the chemicals that would normally stimulate your natural defense systems are running seriously low right now).
In other words, you feel like crap.
It's much too late for all the good advice you should have followed the night before. (For example, brown liquors always hurt worse than clear ones; remember to alternate glasses of water with alcoholic drinks.) The sole surefire cure is time, but sleep is the only way to make the interim period passable -- and your groaning is keeping you awake.
If you can, head to the refrigerator, where many time-honored remedies reside. In Australia, a T-bone steak is considered an effective cure; in Mexico, it's menudo. Germans down sour herring and chase it with beer. One Outer Mongolian recipe calls for a pickled sheep's eye in a glass of tomato juice.
Is your cupboard bare? In Haiti, over-indulgers simply stick thirteen black-headed pins in the cork of the bottle that gave them the hangover. (Of course, it helps if your bottle had a cork.)
If you're capable of turning on your computer, many Web sites offer handy tips to help fend off the muscle aches, stomachaches, headaches. At soyouwanna.com, you'll find this Almighty Hangover Emergency Cure:
1. Take 2 aspirins
2. Take 200mg cysteine
(available at specialty-food stores)
3. Take 600mg vitamin C
4. Take 1 tablet vitamin B complex
5. Mix the following in a blender:
1 small can V-8
6 large strawberries
2 tbsp honey
1 cup orange juice
1-2 cups milk, to desired consistency
1/4 tsp salt
dash of nutmeg
6. Drink it all.
All-about-hangovers.com -- which, thankfully, has no dizzying page elements to hurt your eyes -- offers more enlightening advice on how to calm the raging beast. At Health.co.za, you'll find interesting hangover information and cures, including Hangover Soup: Heat one gallon of chicken stock until warm, add two celery stalks, one small package okra and some greens. Chop up three large onions and fry until soft and add one cup of sugar. Heat to a boil and serve with bread.
Or try their "Nature's Way" recipe:
1 raw egg
Mix together in a glass and keep down for as long as possible.
Here's to better luck next year.