Sorry, "Hair of the Dog" Will Only Give You a Worse Hangover

Hangovers are kind of like hiccups in that everyone has their own random ol' wives tale for how to make it go away. Chug black coffee! Gorge yourself on bread slices! Don't mix beer and different liquors in one night! Well, good luck with all that. There's only one way to truly cure a hangover. Spoiler: It's not by continuing to drink, you animal.

Hangovers. Woof.

If you've ever made a vow to never drink alcohol again, congratulations, you know what a killer hangover feels like. At some point — depending how desperate for relief you are or how often you get wrecked by tequila — you may have tried the "hair of the dog" technique. Simply put, this time-honored attempt at erasing alcohol-induced pain calls for continued drinking. Sounds stupid, right? Correct.

In medieval Europe, during the era of astrology and blood-letting as serious medical treatments of disease, one therapy for rabies was to place hairs from the rabid dog onto the victim's bite wound. Guess what? It didn't work. And "the hair of the dog that bit you" (a drink) has never and will never work for hangovers, either. "There's no scientific evidence that having an alcoholic drink will cure a hangover," Laura Veach, Ph.D., director of screening and counseling intervention services and training in the Department of Surgery at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said in a press release. "It will, at best, postpone one."

Ain't Nobody Got Time For Time

The imaginary science that hair-of-the-dog-ers point to as they grab a morning brew is the idea that drinking alcohol will prevent symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, the thing that causes hangovers. That's part of it, but it's more complicated than that.

Hangovers happen when a high concentration of alcohol in your system sharply drops after you stop drinking. The grim results hit you the hardest when your blood-alcohol level reaches zero. Putting a little booze back in your system will temporarily make you feel better, sure. But when your BAC dips down to zilch, you'll be dealing with the symptoms of last night's liquor on top of this morning's bloody Mary.

There is only one hangover cure. Listen closely. "Rest, hydration, and aspirin can help some, but they won't make the hangover go away," Veach said. "The only real cure is time. [...] There's nothing we know of that can speed up that process. Not drinking coffee, taking a shower, standing on your head, getting slapped, walking around outside in the cold. Nothing."

The Science of Hangovers

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Dehydration 00:38

  2. Overload of Acetaldehyde 01:15

  3. Congeners 01:47

Written by Joanie Faletto September 8, 2017

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