By Ross Walker 

Many people live under the delusion that there is a cure for a hangover.

You may be surprised to know the hangover is not due to alcohol but due to a toxic by-product of alcohol metabolism known as acetaldehyde, along with dehydration and varying degrees of sleep apnoea induced by the sleep disrupting effect of alcohol.

The symptoms of hangovers are well known to anyone who has had one, which includes headache, fatigue, dry mouth, nausea and dizziness.

Also, the effects of a depressive drug such as alcohol and the subsequent depletion of vitamins and minerals can lead to acute disorientation and the jitters.

Interestingly, different types of alcohol can lead to worse hangovers and this is because of the other impurities in alcohol called congeners.

It is the ethyl alcohol or ethanol that induces the person to be drunk but the congeners such as amyl alcohol, butyl alcohol, methyl alcohol and propyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol in most drinks and if there is an extra concentration of congeners, this can markedly increase the symptoms of a hangover.

For example, vodka and gin have less congeners whereas whiskey, rum and bourbon have more congeners and therefore more intense hangovers. Also, if you leave red wine in a bottle for a day or two this increases the concentration of acetaldehyde and thus can cause a more significant hangover.

Recently in Sydney, a hangover clinic has opened costing anywhere between $140-200, depending on the treatments given, but basically offering IV saline, a vitamin cocktail, along with anti-nausea injections.

This may partially relieve some of the symptoms of the hangover but doesn't eliminate acetaldehyde from your body any quicker, so you may feel better with definitely a lighter wallet or purse, but I wouldn't risk driving. 

Proposed hangover cures have been anything from Berocca, Coca Cola, coffee, ginseng, vegemite on toast (because of the salt and B-group vitamins), all of which may have a marginal effect but certainly don’t take away the dreadful effects of the hangover.

There is also cold pizza or the late night kebab, which many people swear by.

Aspirin may be good to take away the headache of the hangover but unfortunately the combination of Aspirin and alcohol can lead to marked gastric irritation and therefore a marked increased risk for bleeding.  

An interesting suggestion is peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich because of the fructose and magnesium, Vitamin C, chocolate milk and the one that makes my stomach turn the most, is sauerkraut.

The reality is that there is no such thing as a hangover cure; the only cure is prevention, i.e. don’t drink too much in the first place.