Hangover Science

Do you still get hangovers?

I called it building a tolerance and thought it quite the feat that I no longer got hangovers. Victory I proclaimed. All the while I was unaware of what I had lost. I had not lost the hangovers but the ability to jettison the toxins(alcohol/acetaldehyde).

It(hangover) didn’t go away. It just took a seat at the back of the bus.

No more hangovers simply means that your body no longer has the energy to expel the toxins so it just dilutes them with additional bodily fluids. You experience this as dehydration and add more fluids to compensate.

The problem is that the toxins that weren’t expelled still remain in the body until it can muster up the energy for a proper detox. If it happens at a time other than directly associated with alcohol ingestion you simply call it a migraine or nausea or the flu.

I know it may sound counterintuitive but this is simple physiology.

Hangover is toxin leaving the body. This is what is called a herxheimer reaction. It is a short-term(from days to a few weeks) detoxification reaction in the body.

As the body detoxifies, it is not uncommon to experience some or all of these flu-like symptoms including headache, joint and muscle pain, body aches, sore throat, general malaise, sweating, chills and nausea.

What one calls growing immune to hangovers is also called tolerance. It usually happens slowly over time. Not overnight.

Sound familiar?

~ Michael J. Loomis