Many people turn to hair of the dog hangover cures in hopes of dissipating their woes. It involves consuming more alcohol to relieve hangover symptoms. However, does it really work? Or does it just prolong the inevitable? Read on to find out the things you need to know about hair of the dog hangover cure.
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What is the Hair of the Dog Hangover Cure?
The “hair of the dog” is an expression that means the cause of an illness may possibly be its cure too. When it comes to alcohol, it implies taking more alcohol to mitigate unpleasant symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, and dehydration.
Does Hair of the Dog Hangover Cure Work?
Hair of the dog is not a well-studied phenomenon. However, several theories have come up over the years as to why it might help with hangover issues.
1. Raises Blood Alcohol Levels
Hangover symptoms develop as the body processes alcohol. And, the symptoms are worst when the levels of alcohol in the blood get to zero. The hair of the dog theory assumes that drinking more alcohol raises your blood alcohol levels, which alleviates hangover symptoms. But, when you stop drinking later on and the blood alcohol levels go back to zero, your hangover symptoms will return.
Thus, hair of the dog hangover cure only postpones hangover symptoms, and cannot prevent them completely.
2. Boosts Release of Endorphins
Researchers have found that alcohol temporarily raises the levels of endorphins, causing you to feel good. But, during alcohol withdrawal, the levels of the hormone go down. The alcohol-related surge of endorphins might temporarily detract you from the hangover symptoms. However, the symptoms will ultimately come back when you stop consuming alcohol.
3. Slows the Release of Hangover-Inducing Substances
Some alcoholic drinks contain traces of chemicals called congeners, which are formed during the fermentation process of alcohol. Such compounds add to the severity of the hangover. A common example of a congener is methanol, which is present in beer, wine, and spirits. The body can transform the methanol into formaldehyde and formic acid, which are toxic chemicals that make hangovers worse.
Alcohol and methanol are processed by the same body mechanism. So, consuming more alcohol may enable more methanol excretion, instead of getting turned into toxic chemicals.
The hair of the dog hangover cure might have some merit. But, the potential dangers of
- exposing the body to more alcohol that will ultimately have to be metabolized
- the hangover symptoms will only be delayed
- the habit of drinking more to get over a hangover exposes you to the potential of abusing alcohol
outweigh the possible short-term benefits.
Why You Should Be Cautious
Consuming more alcohol to get rid of a hangover might lead to even worse symptoms when you stop. Hangovers usually worsen during periods of prolonged heavy drinking. Moreover, drinking alcohol to alleviate a hangover is associated with unhealthy drinking behaviors. Thus, the hair of the dog hangover cure isn’t recommended.