Florian Demetz says it quite frankly: “Such a measure doesn’t give me anything.” The 57-year-old doesn’t say this because he is the head doctor of the emergency room at the Munich Clinic Harlaching and wants to set a good example. But simply because, as he says, “he doesn’t like beer.” He tried it every now and then at the Oktoberfest, but even at the risk of being seen as a philistine in Bavaria: he still doesn’t like it. Of course, this is the best way to prevent a hangover. But as an emergency doctor, he of course knows what happens when people drink too much. Which home remedies help with a hangover and which absolutely do not.
SZ: What is a hangover?
Florian Demetz: The main components of a hangover are too much alcohol and too little sleep. The hangover usually manifests itself in discomfort and an impairment of physical and mental performance. In large quantities, alcohol can cause confusion and disorientation.
How does this happen?
The reason for this is the disruption in the transmission of signals between the nerve cells in the brain. In addition, alcohol can also negatively affect the body’s water and electrolyte balance. The effect of alcohol, which slows down neuronal processes, is different for everyone. One is euphoric, the other is disinhibited. At some point you may no longer be able to control your body or find the keyhole at home. And still others get injured because they fell. Of course, there is also a difference whether a 17-year-old elf or an Upper Bavarian warrior who weighs 100 kilos and chops down five trees every day drinks two measures.
Does eating Rollmops help against a hangover?
From a medical point of view, the effect is manageable. Sure, the Rollmops, if you even bring it down when you have a hangover, is salty. And the salt encourages the hungover person to drink a lot. Alcohol disrupts the entire mineral and water balance in the body. And alcohol deprives the body of fluids. Wiesn-goers who end up in our emergency room will definitely not get a roll mop. In my opinion, it’s better to just drink a lot of water.
And what about Zipresso, i.e. espresso with lemon?
The caffeine makes you feel more awake and supposedly more productive again. Does the combination with the lemon help? Why not. Vitamin C certainly doesn’t do any harm. And if you swear by it…
Take aspirin as a preventive measure before drinking?
I think that’s unwise, even though I understand the basic concept behind it. Aspirin also has a blood-thinning effect. If you injure yourself while intoxicated, you will most likely bleed more. In addition, the effect only lasts two or three hours. And then? Another one? That makes no sense. Aspirin is also not the drug of choice. It is better to take ibuprofen for the headache. And not as a prophylactic at the beginning of the Oktoberfest tour, but at the end. Painkillers may also increase the effects of alcohol and make you tired.
But hearty food is a good basis!
Oh yeah. Preferably a pork knuckle. The layer of fat that forms in the stomach and intestines after eating delays the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. Fat binds alcohol. But: Hearty food only delays the intoxication, but does not prevent it.
Does drinking mineral water before bed help?
Tea, water – it doesn’t matter. Yes, it is good that the body gets enough fluids. After two drinks at the Oktoberfest, it is advisable to drink a liter of water in between. Because then the alcohol mixes with the water. So everything is diluted and the effect of the alcohol becomes a little weaker. Of course, the total amount of alcohol in the body remains the same, but it has a larger volume of distribution. That doesn’t mean you’ll get sober any quicker. The liver, which is busy breaking down alcohol, does so at a constant speed. It breaks down 0.1 per mille per hour. If you have 0.5 per mille, it takes five hours for the alcohol to break down again. It doesn’t get any faster. Alcohol is just a drug. The performance of the liver also decreases with age.
Some also recommend a counter beer as a hangover cure.
Certainly not. That definitely doesn’t work at all. This is a fairy tale. Not even with wheat beer, which is popular because of the yeast. But it’s not about the yeast, it’s about the alcohol, which is then simply consumed again during the already existing hangover. If it absolutely has to be beer, then it’s non-alcoholic.
Does Elotrans help?
Anyone who consumes too much alcohol usually consumes too little fluid. The body becomes dehydrated. Electrolyte solutions containing various salts can compensate for this. If you can do anything, it won’t hurt. But the most important thing is that you drink normal water. Alcohol stimulates kidney function, but at the same time it also reduces the urge to thirst. The intestines reabsorb the fluid.
If you believe in it, there you go. Go ahead.
What about essential oils?
Well, a real Upper Bavarian won’t have it that way. And medically speaking, essential oils have no effect on the breakdown of alcohol in the liver.
Can you get rid of residual alcohol faster through exercise?
This is a very individual thing. One goes jogging, the other goes for a walk. Fresh air is definitely good. You just have to make sure you really drink enough. If you don’t do this, intensive exercise on hangover day can also be dangerous.