Big in Japan: How to cure a hangover

Did you know that the scientific name for a hangover is veisalgia?

Veisalgia describes the headache, stomach sick, sensitivity to light and sound, weakness and depression that comes the morning after you’ve hit the bottle a bit too hard.

Although scientists might disagree, veisalgia also describes the feeling you get when you roll over and realize you’re sleeping next to someone significantly less attractive than you.

Veisalgia also describes the feeling of waking up naked on the side of the road without your wallet or your keys and only the vaguest recollection of what happened the night before.

(If you’re reading this mom, I swear that happened to someone else!).

In Japanese, the word for hangover is futsukayoi (??????????), which directly translates as ‘two-day drunk.’ Sounds pretty bad, though my hardcore Japanese friends assure me that you haven’t truly partied until you’ve experienced a mitsukayoi (??????????) or ‘three-day drunk.’

Let’s start with what we do know about the commonly experienced but rarely understood phenomenon that is a hangover.

Scientists who spend most of their days drinking vodka shots from beakers and separating the layers of their vomit in centrifuges have identified reasons why humans experience hangovers.

Although I’m convinced that the true cause of hangovers is simply drinking too much, people much smarter than me point to the following culprits: hypoglycemia, dehydration, acetaldehyde intoxication, and vitamin B12 deficiency.

For those of us without PhDs, the previous sentence translates to ‘not enough sugar, not enough water and more alcohol than blood in your veins.’

Of course, most of us are more interested in preventing hangovers than curing them, which is why all of us raging alchies have our own tricks of the trade.

For me, I try to guzzle a few pints glasses of water and slurp down a huge bowl of noodle soup before I pass out in a violent fit of shame and self-loathing. For one of my friends, it‘s the tried and true ‘pull the trigger’ method, which also has the unintended side effect of keeping her super skinny.

As you may have imagined, the Japanese love their drink, which is why the hangover cure market over here in East Asia is a multi-million dollar industry.

With Japanese salarymen prone to long-night binge drinking sessions with their colleagues, it’s only natural that the convenience stores and vending machines here in Japan stock hangover cures.

Although every Japanese drinker has their own favorite brew, I’m partial to リポビタンD (Lipovitamin D), a tasty energy drink chockfull o’ vitamins and minerals that always puts an extra spring in my step.

Truth be told, I have no idea what’s in the stuff (or even if it works), but it’s comforting to know that this little bottle may have the cure for what ails me, even if it only works as a placebo.

Anyway, I guess this blog entry brings about one simple question: what do YOU do to prevent a hangover?

(And yes, I know the answer is simply not to drink, but if you’ve figured out a way not to, please share the secret with the rest of us!)

** Special thanks to CollegeHumor for the amazing picture entitled ‘Ummm you have some stomach in your hair. **