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Does the Anti-hangover Pill Work?

Does the Anti-hangover Pill Work?
Randall Stephens

My first drinking experience consisted of a couple bottles of beer with some friends during my teenage years. How often have you heard THAT one?! What you hear less frequently is the likely follow-up to that statement: “Oh, man did I have a hangover!” Studies show that college undergraduates are especially likely to drink to excess and succumb to the effects of a hangover.

We are constantly bombarded with non-sense infomercials and ridiculous claims by these advertisers, and believing in an ad that informs us of a cure for hangovers seems equally dubious. So when I first saw a TV commercial advertising Chaser as what I thought was a miracle cure, I was skeptical. I contacted a pharmacist friend to get her professional opinion. To my surprise, she claimed that it is becoming known for having a positive effect.

Classic Hangover Cures
Classic hangover cures include both sensible and ridiculous options. A popular one is that you can get hangover relief by working out. This might work at least a little, providing you can get out of bed! The reasoning behind it is that as you flush out the bad, you re-hydrate with the good, so to speak. Another one involves taking a couple of over-the-counter pills (Tylenol, Aspirin, Ibuprofen/Advil) before going to bed after a night of partying. This is unlikely to do very much if you have been drinking to excess. Also, taken together, alcohol and aspirin can be damaging to your stomach (i.e. gastric mucosal hemorrhage).

“…the original anti-hangover pill was apparently developed by the Russian Academy of Sciences for the military and KGB personnel…”

One recommendation is to eat toast which will absorb the alcohol or at least give you something to throw up. Others suggest trying to sleep it off, with a shower between naps. I doubt a shower can provide relief for an extensive period of time.

Consuming a lot of water and Gatorade are among the best options since they dilute the alcohol in your system and re-hydrate you. They help to flush out the alcohol and replenish your system with minerals and vitamins. Apparently eating fruits can do this as well.

Still others advise you to avoid hangovers by grabbing another beer and staying drunk! You could always try preventative measures such as drinking with food in your stomach and not mixing the different types of alcoholic beverages. Either way, here is the story of anti-hangover pills.

Invented by the Russians
As ridiculous as this may sound, the original anti-hangover pill was apparently developed by the Russian Academy of Sciences for the military and KGB personnel in the former USSR. It was meant to allow agents to drink as much alcohol as they wanted, without getting drunk. It turns out that it did not prevent drunkenness but it did help them through the post-drinking period. The drug took about 25 years to develop and it recently became available as an over-the-counter product.

No Prescription Required
Anti-hangover pills are now widely available without a prescription. Popular anti-hangover pills include Chaser (their motto is ‘Freedom from Hangover’), RU-21 (Get it? Are You 21?), Buzz, Beer Neutralizer, and Drink Ease. Many of these are now available at variety stores, pharmacies, and specialized stores such as GNC and other vitamin, nutrition, health, or adult supplement stores.

Chaser’s ingredients are apparently all-natural and FDA-approved. It works by absorbing the toxic by-products that your body creates after you consume alcohol. The actual success of the pill varies based on your body’s chemistry, amount and type of alcohol consumed, and possibly age.

The companies who create these products say they have clinical data to support their claims. Umm, is “clinically-proven” the same as a statically significant difference within a valid and reliable research study? Probably not, so I decided to get my own anecdotal evidence!

Do the Pills Really Work?
Mark Robert Halper of the Citynet Magazine Photographer Network and one of Los Angeles’ premier celebrity photographers, uses the anti-hangover pill Chaser on a regular basis. A few years ago he discovered that he was allergic to alcohol which he believes developed over a period of years. He tried Chaser and now swears by its usefulness. “It is not something that mitigates the effects of alcohol just the after-effects of alcohol.” he says.

“I’m not one to endorse GNC products but this is a good product and for me it has made a huge difference. You can sometimes bargain with GNC stores, with each tablet costing around a dollar which is a worthwhile deal,” he continued.

Peter T. in New York claimed that ” it’s ok, but if you drink to excess you still have the upset stomach, but no headache or groggy feeling.”

In fact, all of the individuals I spoke with agreed that it was at least partially helpful in preventing hangovers.

Save Your Party Guests: Punch Bowls of Pills!
After you’ve read about how to burn a great party CD and how to throw a great party, you’ll want to consider enhancing your party with anti-hangover pills. People who have discovered how powerful these pills can be have started buying them in large quantities and placing them next to punch bowls at parties.

While the actual instructions vary by the specific product, they typically require you to take one or two pills before you start drinking and take more based on the number of alcoholic beverages you consume over a given period of time.

“It seemed to work for me, I did not feel shaky, I did not have a major headache, and I did not feel nauseous the next day. So, when I have cocktail parties, and they are frequent, I have RU-21 in a bowl, like I would candy. They are usually all gone by the time the party has died down,” reported Richard M. in New York City.

Cheap Alcohol
It is commonly known that hangovers from cheap alcohol are worse than those from quality drinks. Richard M. cautioned that RU-21 is effective for wine and good liquor but has not been as useful for preventing hangovers after drinking cheaper alcohol such as vodka in plastic bottles. I suppose there is just no escape from the effects of cheap alcohol!

Trying is Believing (or Disbelieving!)
To be honest, I am less skeptical about these anti-hangover pills than I was before investigating the products. However, until I try it myself, I won’t fully believe it. Bring on a party!

View Comments (13)

13 Comments

  1. Avatar

    John S.

    June 22, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Great post, thank you.

  2. Avatar

    drew

    July 10, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    My wife just took one of those chaser pills, now her face is all swollen up. That was the only thing she ingested. Problem, got a solution?

  3. Avatar

    Neil

    August 18, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Drew, call a mortician, your wife will need one!

  4. Avatar

    Ryan

    December 7, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Get her to the hospital dude, she could die!

  5. Avatar

    @drew

    April 13, 2010 at 6:53 am

    trying to show what an unprescripted pill could do ,right?not bad

  6. Avatar

    George

    May 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Your right hand is swollen? I think you may using it as a topical solution rather than orally.

  7. Avatar

    Kris

    June 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Actually a combination of drinking much water and working out would be the optimal solution as yes! The water rehydrates the body but if you combine it with workout the “flush” effect will be increased significantly and the body will start to naturally produce endorfine and adrelanine which is the same effect you get when consuming painkiller pills. Another good thing is to drink water before going to bed and sleep as long as possible.

  8. Avatar

    Quintin

    July 10, 2010 at 1:46 am

    That’s not exactly how pain killers work. The stuff that most people use (ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, or acetaminophen) work by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxegenase. This enzyme creates prostaglandins which act to cause the pain sensation. When this enzyme is blocked, there are less prostaglandins around so there is less pain. Another type of painkiller, the opioid narcotics, do work similarly to endorphins, but these drugs can only be obtained through a prescription from a doctor and its a felony to have these without one so most people aren’t going to have this… especially since doctors don’t hand these out for things like hangovers. I’m not disputing the fact that adrenalin does have some pain killing properties or that working out is a possible cure for hangovers, I’m only correcting the statement about how pain killing drugs work (which I guess was half right to begin with). In fact, I do agree that lots of water and working out is possibly the best cure. That and a cold shower.

  9. Avatar

    mike

    December 11, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    You should not take Tylenol (acetametaphine)after excessive drinking because it can mess up your liver. The reason being is that Tylenol is absorbed through the liver, and when your liver is already working overtime to process the alcohol could eventrually cause liver failure. Im not saying that doing it a few times will kill you, but its just something to think about. If you are to take a pain pain take something not processed so heavily by the liver. Happy drinking

  10. Avatar

    terf

    June 5, 2011 at 5:16 am

    You don’t “flush” alcohol from your body, it is metabolized in the liver. Period. Never seen so much misinformation stated as fact in my life.

  11. Avatar

    Jess

    August 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I wanted to know if there are common side effects with taking any anti-hangover pills with current prescription meds I am on – Lamictal and birth control, Desogen.

    I only drink wine and usually moderately. Occasionally I’ll have a little more but I always have hangovers to some extent.

    If I actually remember! I will drink 3 bottles of water before going to bed and I’m less likely to have a bad hangover. If I drink water in addition to my wine during the evening and then drink 3 bottles of water before bed I won’t have a splitting headache or nausea. I’ll still feel a little crappy though.

    The next day I drink 2 huge gatorades and eat something like a sub sandwich or oatmeal. The bread and oatmeal always makes my stomach feel better. I also drink a huge glass of milk if my stomach is burning. Gatorade makes a huge difference!

    I was just curious about the combination of the anti-hangover with Lamictal specifically and also birth control…. ?

  12. Avatar

    H.P.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    I tried RU21 and it works for me. Took 1 pill before started drinking and one before went to sleep and woke up perfectly fine. The 2 glasses of water i had with the pills might help the hangover too 🙂 …

  13. Avatar

    hangover pills

    December 12, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I tried RU21 couple of times and did the work just fine. I didnt wake up like Superman, but nausea & headaches were gone. Being lightheaded reminded me of last night though …

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