We’ve all experienced it before. That queasy, gut-wrenching moment when your legs suddenly turn into
Jell-O and the wave of elation you’ve been merrily riding along swiftly disappears. Your heart begins to pitter-patter as you struggle to maintain your dignity and quickly make your way to the nearest restroom. Or exit. Whichever one is closest.
Yes, you’re drunk and miserable on top of that. However, what’s worse than almost losing your dinner in front of all your friends and the cutie from biology class – whom you’ve been crushing on for weeks – is what will inevitably occur whenever you awake from your alcohol-induced coma the next morning. Hopefully, you won’t open your eyes and discover that you’ve fallen asleep next to the toilet; undoubtedly, you’ll awaken with a heavy, pulsating head that feels as if it’s been hit by a baseball bat.
I’ll admit, the drunken scenario I’m describing may be a tad dramatic. Nonetheless, the dreaded, next-day hangover is something not too many college students – or professors for that matter – can deny having
Lucky, Michael Oshinsky, a research scientist and assistant professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has proven that a simple dose of caffeine and a painkiller may be all it takes to soothe a throbbing head and ringing ears.
According to Oshinsky, ethanol – pure alcohol – contains the active chemical acetate, or the culprit responsible for those nagging headaches.
By injecting rats with small doses of ethanol – about the equivalent of one drink in humans – Oshinsky and Christina Maxwell, a student in the neuroscience program, were able to induce headaches, which they later cured by giving the rats caffeine and anti-inflammatory ingredients found in Aspirin to block the acetate; thus relieving the rats’ “hangovers.”
However, what was particularly interesting was the discovery that the rats used in Oshinshy’s study were not dehydrated after their alcohol injections. This suggests that contrary to popular belief, the amount of water
consumed the night before doesn’t necessarily result in better hydration.
“Dehydration is not necessary to induce the headaches,” Oshinsky said. “I’m not saying that dehydration is not a cause (of headaches), I’m just saying that in alcohol it is not the only issue.”
Oshinsky, whose findings have since been published in the New Scientist Journal, said the best time to take your dose of caffeine and aspirin is about four hours after drinking, when the acetate levels begin to reach their peak.
So the next time you wake up on the wrong side of the bed – or the toilet – with a halting headache due to one too many drinks the night before, march straight into the kitchen, brew yourself a strong cup of coffee and sing, “A spoon full of coffee makes the Aspirin go down” in your best Mary Poppins voice. I assure you, you’ll feel as good as new.
In fact – just a brief warning – you may even feel “new” enough to repeat the previous night’s events. That’s your risk to take, but remember, there’s no test that proves it works two days in a row.
Brittany Graham is a senior majoring in communications and journalism at California State University, Long Beach.