How to Solve a Problem like a Hangover

21/10/2012 15:18 BST | Updated 19/12/2012 10:12 GMT
Stuart Mullenberg

It's the day after the night before. Your head is chiming, your stomach churning. As naturally as a night of mixing leads to hanging, so does the hung-over heart reach for that miracle cure of alcohol - induced migraines: bacon. Yes, glorious, smoky, fatty, sizzling bacon. Well, that is unless you're Elliot Gemmell.

It's generally agreed that fried pig's back is the ultimate hangover cure (how vegetarians cope has received surprisingly little scientific investigation). It's this consensus that informs comedian Al Murray's rationalisation for the existence of god, based on the apparent design of bacon's unique capabilities. Despite the theological implications, heathen Gemmell decided to hijack the natural order of things and attempt to cure his hangover with salmon. Yes, saggy, wet, smoked, non-porcine salmon.

You'd think being a third year and, consequently, a well-seasoned drinker might prevent you from stabbing your own stomach in the back, but expiring salmon is too tempting for some. In a statement, Gemmel accepts "the meal was only ever going to end badly" and that - post-salmon - he felt "doubly hung-over and slightly queasy".

While I don't see pharmacists stocking salmon flavoured Pro-Plus any time soon, stupider remedies have entered our culture. Drinking on a hung-over stomach has somehow achieved proverbial status: "Hair of the Dog", reassuringly named after the medieval belief that relieving a rabid dog bite is as simple as placing said dog's hair on the rabies-infested wound. It's foolproof logic, really. If you're suffering from a sore throat, then French kiss someone with tonsillitis. If that mole on your neck is starting to darken, buy yourself a carton of cigarettes. Predictably, "Hair of the Dog" is only a short term solution for symptoms, and can lead to further complications, such as irreversible-idiotosis or estranged liver.

Apparently for some people the perfect cure is a spot of self pity. According to's Top 10 Hangover Cures, "it won't cure your headache or rehydrate you, but some good old self pity will probably make you feel a little better". For me, self pity blurs the line between symptom and cure, as I'm sure anyone who has spent time with a hang-over patient will tell you. In fact, hangover-headaches are highly contagious, easily passed on by groans, moans, and resolutions to "never drink ever again!" Before you consider pitying yourself, remember that self pity can lead to harder drugs, such as self loathing, narcissism, paranoia, and, ironically, alcoholism.

Though the NHS website claims there's no real cure for hangovers, there are some non-mythological ways to help relieve the symptoms. According to people who know stuff about science, alcohol reduces your REM cycle, so it's probably best you stay in bed a bit longer. Alternatively, you could go for a run and release some endorphins (you might want to try this if you're what fellow drunks call "a crier"). And, of course, water helps hydration, and vegetable soups are a good source of vitamins and minerals.

That said, it doesn't really seem in the spirit of scheduled alcoholism to be sensible. If you want my advice, try to embrace hangovers as part of the drinking journey, and, whilst you're ruining your liver, why not clog your arteries too? In the wise words of Mr Gemmell - who suffered the salmon so we might live - "stick to the stodge".