In the United States, one in six adults engages in binge drinking at least four times a week. That’s a big number and might explain the ceaseless search for a good hangover cure.
Researchers in Great Britain and Germany decided to tackle one supposed cure that says drinking beer before wine will insulate someone from a hangover’s wrath. This particular cure even has a little rhyme associated with it: “Beer before wine and you’ll feel fine; wine before beer and you’ll feel queer.”
Researchers recruited people ages 19 to 40 and set them drinking. Participants were separated into three groups. The first drank 2.5 pints of beer, then tackled four large glasses of wine — in other words, one heck of a party. The second group quaffed wine before the beer. A third control group drank either beer or wine exclusively.
A week later, the groups reversed the order of drinking, so the group who drank wine first a week before now drank beer first. In the control group, those who drank beer exclusively the first time out now drank wine.
The next day, the researchers measured the intensity of the participants’ hangovers, looking at symptoms that ranged from loss of appetite to thirst and headache.
The results were fairly clear. Everyone, regardless of their grouping, had similarly lousy hangovers. Women, however, had worse hangovers than men. The study did not offer an explanation about this difference.
Other myths await scientific scrutiny. Perhaps scientists can tackle the “hair of the dog” myth, which postulates that a good hangover cure is to have another drink the next morning.
In reality, the best hangover cure might be the one that is foolproof: Don’t drink at all.