Hair of the dog or eye of the sheep? The world has many ways to beat a hangover

Wednesday, December 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SINGAPORE (AP) _ In Singapore, they say herbal soup laced with ginseng can help cure a hangover. In outer Mongolia, men recovering from a big night are known to drain a glass of tomato juice containing a pickled sheep's eye.

The consequences of too much holiday cheer are universal: killer headaches, churning stomachs, dry throats and furry tongues. The remedies vary widely, however.

Some are purely practical, like drinking lots of water to combat the leading cause of hangovers _ dehydration. Others are inexplicably bizarre.

Guy Nicholls, 39, a copywriter from Wiltshire, England, says rubbing half a lemon under each armpit is a surefire antidote. The lemons must be rubbed clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern, he says.

According to Web site, the lemon cure originated in Puerto Rico, where lemons are rubbed (in any direction) under the ``drinking arm.''

``I can't explain why that could possibly work,'' Dr. Fred Freitag, of the Chicago-based Diamond Headache Clinic, told The Associated Press.

In Haiti, some stick 13 black-headed pins in the cork of the bottle that gave them the hangover, the Web site says.

Does another beer or bloody mary in the morning help a raging hangover? Experts say no, it only prolongs the agony, but the ``hair of the dog'' theory is as universal as the hangover.

The phrase, incidentally, stems from ancient British folk treatments for dog bites, which held that a hair taken from the offending dog and placed on the wound would help to heal it.

Coffee may wake you up, but it also prolongs the pain. Like alcohol, coffee is a diuretic, which flushes fluids from the body.

Honey on toast is a better idea. Honey is rich in fructose, which hastens the metabolism, Freitag said.

``Going to a sauna and sweating out a hangover definitely works for me,'' says Michael Welch, a 33-year-old filmmaker living in Los Angeles. ``You just have to deal with a lot of really hairy, sweaty guys.''

The Finns may have invented the sauna, but many prefer a pickled herring and a cold beer to treat their ``krapula,'' which, like the English word ``crapulence,'' means hangover.

The Norwegian word is ``toemmermenn,'' or ``lumberjacks.'' In Spain, it's ``resaca,'' meaning undertow.

Many cultures rely on food to soak up those alcohol-induced toxins.

``After I drink a lot, the next morning I need a stretcher,'' says Attila Mona, a student from Naples. ``There is nothing to do except sleep and eat white foods because your stomach is still upset.''

In Italy, ``eating white'' means rice, pasta and dairy products. No tomatoes _ they're acidic and can make the hangover worse.

Drinking white is also a good idea, Freitag says. Bourbon and red wine result in heinously painful hangovers because they have more ``cogeners'' than their lighter counterparts. Cogeners are produced naturally by the fermentation and processing of alcoholic drinks.

Russians, however, seem to like fighting acid with acid. Many drink a glass of brine from homemade pickled cucumbers or sauerkraut.

In Hong Kong, before wedding banquets that are likely to be well lubricated, some plan ahead. They swallow raw eggs or butter before imbibing, believing these will ease the pain.

Some Greeks believe in the egg fix as well, only they suck it whole from the shell to prepare for a night of swilling ouzo, the aniseed-flavored national liquor.

Freitag says the eggs can help, because they are rich in fat and line the stomach _ meaning alcohol takes a longer time to soak in.

The headache expert stresses that abstinence or moderation is the only certain cure.

Other than prayer, perhaps. As the poet Byron wrote: ``Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter. Sermons and soda-water the day after.''