Chaser Pills and Peanut Butter?: What cures really work

by Eve Ahearn | 11/30/07 2:16am

Thump, thump, thump. No one plans to wake up with a pounding head, but we all know that it happens. Maybe you had a winning streak playing pong or overindulged at a 'tails event. Or maybe it was just another Monday night.

Whatever situation caused that hangover, you're obviously looking for a cure. How else are you going to manage to write that research paper today, or make it to morning drill?

We all have our own favorite cure. Personally, I'm a big fan of Home Plate brunch. But are any of our favorite remedies scientifically proven to actually work?

According to Dr. Jack Turco, director of the Dartmouth College Health Service, the only medically approved steps to avoid hangovers are "minimizing what you are drinking, knowing what your tolerance is and trying to drink a lot of fluids for the next 24 hours."

Unfortunately, little medical information about next-morning cures is available.

"It's interesting, in preparing for this [interview], I was curious whether there are any real medical cures for [hangovers]. I looked for a medical cure in journals, and there wasn't anything. Maybe its because people think a study would enable people to drink. I think, from a medical standpoint, the best treatment is just to not get drunk," Turco said.

Since there are no cures that have been proven medically effective, it's possible that old wives tales have some merit. When Turco looked up these cures online, he "found some handouts that recommend primrose, sports drinks, thyme, water, peanut butter -- there are a million things that people suggest. They may work. There are a lot of medicines people used for hundreds of years that have now been studied that then they found out that they have ingredients that do work," Turco said.

Christopher Martella '11's favorite cure is one of those that might have some merit. "I like to use peanut butter as a cure for my hangovers. It's always really appetizing when I come back to my room at night, and the next morning I feel fine," Martella said.

Although his cure is unusual, according to Turco, it's not entirely original. "One of the things that I read is that eating peanut butter before drinking is an African remedy," Turco said.

If you're allergic to peanuts, other foods can work just as well for some.

"One time I had saltine crackers and applesauce. It was so good," Ayana Christie '11 said. "I like Mott's applesauce, the cinnamon one. You are dehydrated and hungry at the same time, so you want something that's not too heavy and will quench your thirst; applesauce is just in-between and perfect."

Others prefer exercise to eating. "I like to wake up in the morning and sweat it out, that way I feel like I'm starting my day fresh," Amanda Fuchs '11 said.

Although some say exercising helps rid the body of toxins, it's not a proven remedy. "Some people advocate a little bit of exercise, but there is no real medical evidence for this," Turco said.

The exercise can't hurt, though, and unlike eating a fatty breakfast, you'll never regret it. In fact, the effectiveness of eating fatty foods before and after drinking as a way to curb the negative effects of alcohol is disputed. According to Turco, some resarch by the University of Tennessee showed that eating a fatty meal before drinking can actually work against you.

"Eating a meal high in saturated fat causes the effect of alcohol to last longer," Turco said.

Some pharmaceutical companies have tried to cash in on the hangover remedy market, available medical information or not. I obtained some Chaser Plus pills from CVS and -- for the sake of journalism, of course -- I set out one Friday to try to get a hangover and see if the pills worked.

You take two pills with your first drink and then another two after 4-6 drinks or 2-3 hours. If after 4-6 drinks you can really manage to remember to take the extra pills, the product promises "freedom from hangovers."

When I woke up on Saturday, however, I didn't feel totally free. But I didn't hurry to fill my Nalgene bottle and proceed to chug it like I typically would, either. My head felt basically normal, but it was hard to tell what negative sensations were from drinking and what were caused by lack of sleep.

The active ingredients in Chaser Plus are cinchona 12X, Lobella inf 12X, Nux vom 12X, Quercus gland sp 6X, Ranunc bulb 12X and Zincum met 30X. In total these ingredients are supposed to alleviate a throbbing head, noise sensitivity, nausea, dizziness, headache, light sensitivity, dry mouth and throat, and fatigue.

Although my test was a little inconclusive, feel free to experiment yourself. Chaser pills cost $6.99 for ten caplets. If you prove beyond all doubt that they work, feel free to pick me up a pack as well.

Marina Andreazi '10 recommended Engov as an alternative medication. It is supposed to work on headaches and stomachaches but it has caught on mainly as a hangover medication. "It's this medicine from Brazil that's over-the-counter. The secret is to take it before you start drinking," Andreazi said.

"In Brazil some people take it but not everyone. I used to get really bad hangovers all the time. The next morning you just feel like you didn't drink."

Engov can't be bought in the United States, but fortunately, you don't have to leave the country to enjoy its benefits. One can find its active ingredients -- aluminum hydroxide, caffeine, acetylsalicylic acid and pyrilamine maleate -- in other products such as antacids, coffee, aspirin and antihistamines.

If you don't want to trek all the way down to CVS for pills, many find the common painkillers available at Topside to be effective.

"I would say to chug a Nalgene bottle of water and to take two Tylenol before going to bed; I have it set out when I get back, as the trick is to do it before you go to sleep," Eli Mitchell '10 said.

When hangover remedies fail, take comfort in the fact that all hangovers pass in time. You'll feel good enough to go out again by the next weekend.