Hangover cures from around the world

web_photo_Oktoberfest

Two men drink beer while attending an Oktoberfest (an original German tradition of Munich) event in Madrid, Spain, 17 September 2014.

Two men drink beer while attending an Oktoberfest (an original German tradition of Munich) event in Madrid, Spain, 17 September 2014.

JOHANNESBURG - It’s one of the oldest maladies known to Man (and Woman), first documented in Genesis when Noah awoke naked and shamed, after overindulging in his own home brew -- planted from the world&39;s first cultivated vineyards. 
 
Medically known as veisalgia (from the Norwegian kveis for "uneasiness following debauchery" and the Greek algia, meaning “pain and grief”), the common hangover is aptly described as katzen jammer (caterwaul or “wailing cats” in German -- but Afrikaans speakers will identify with feeling "jammer" for yourself).
 
The Germans would know: two of their grand projects, Jgermeister and beer, have been attributed to many regretful mornings-after. 
 
If you managed to end 2014 in a Zen state, sipping kombucha and wheatgrass shooters instead of tequila body shots off a comely waitress, good for you.
 
Most of us probably weren&39;t so virtuous, which is why New Year&39;s resolutions are such a trap. After all, there&39;s only so much debauchery the body can take. Even Keith Richards can’t be smashed every day. Surely.
 
But why settle for the ordinary – water, pain killers, energy drinks, vitamin B, tea and toast, coffee or sleep – when you could live on the edge?
 
In ancient times, boiled cabbage did it for the Romans and Greeks, but Pliny the Elder apparently fancied raw owl&39;s eggs, fried canary, roasted sheep’s intestines, pickled sheep’s eye and ground swallow beak. If any of that worked, it might have been because they were purgatives.
 
And the Egyptians, ever in touch with their spiritual selves, would cast spells on their beer to prevent any negative after-effects.
 
In the Middle Ages, raw eel was said to be popular – they apparently believed the creature would come alive in the stomach and drink up any remnants of alcohol. 
 
Shakespeare was notoriously familiar with boozing and its repercussions -- over 360 references can be found in his works. 
 
By the late 1600s, chemists and herbalists had begun to concoct their own "scientific" mixtures for curing the hangover. English physician Jonathan Goddard created Goddard’s Drops, which contained ingredients like ammonia, the skull of a person hanged, and dried viper.
 
Nicholas Culpeper, an herbalist, suggested healing flowers, like tea made from rosemary, or ajuga -- a medicinal mint -- which has a mild narcotic affect.
 
Nineteenth century English mixed into warm milk a spoonful of fireplace ashes: Granted, charcoal does help to absorb toxins, while in the US, the "Prairie Oyster" was a popular restorative in some circles: either raw egg yolk mixed with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper, or calf testicles.
 
In 1938, a mocktail of Coca-Cola and milk was invented (and might possibly have helped, to an extent, a few years prior due to the presence of cocaine in the original soft drink concoction), while hair of the dog, whatever your poison has seemingly worked for alcoholics and others through the ages. Not recommended.
 
In Romania and Mexico, hangovers are traditionally nursed with a hot and spicy tripe soup or stew, which might simply divert the attention to a searing palate from your pounding head, but northern Europeans favour getting into a pickle jar after getting pickled, while Japanese are partial to umeboshi (pickled salt plums), which is meant to restore electrolytes and encourage drinking of more water.
 
The Poles and Russians don’t mess around: they, too, head for the pickle jar but drink the brine instead. 
 
Peruvians are partial to leche de tigre (tiger’s milk), the citrus-based marinade used in ceviche, the country’s national dish of raw fish, which is said to cure all hangover ills. Containing lime juice, coriander, chillies, garlic, onion, salt and pepper, it can either be drunk as an invigorating aperitif, or poured over a hearty plate of ceviche.
 
South Koreans like a more aggressive approach: haejang guk, “soup to chase away a hangover.” Ingredients for the potent stew vary, but most comprise a bone-based broth enriched with cabbage, vegetables and congealed ox blood. Yum.
 
And indigenous Australians find green ants the traditional go-to insect for headaches and colds, usually taken ground up in a tea. 
 
But before you try any of these, a word of caution: A 2005 British Medical Journal study on eight hangover treatments, including fructose and a beta-blocker; found that none alleviated the symptoms of a hangover.
 
Could hangover "cures" all be due to the placebo effect?
 
-- Georgina Crouth