Getting Over The Hangover

DAVID DRAKE tries some KGB pills.

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Old wives’ tales are a complete waste of time; hair of the dog will only save the agonising fun for later; health magazines can shoot the bull over hangover cures until the cows come home but they will never find a solution. I have drunk my bodyweight in water before bed and still felt like I’ve been hit like a truck the next morning. Re-hydration may solve the headache, but what about the constant nausea, the cotton mouth and, worst of all, a general feeling of impending doom? Can one really ever get over a hangover?


Before my eighteenth birthday, in the blissful innocence of childhood, I had never experienced a hangover. I beg for those sweet days to return. Between the ages of 18 and 21, my hangovers have grown progressively more intense. Preparation for a night out thus involves clearing the majority of the day after, seeing as the morning, if not afternoon, will be spent in bed moaning quietly. Work is an impossibility thanks to the fact that whilst breaking down alcohol, my body seems to sacrifice all mental capacity and physical ability.


I’ve tried Barocca. I’ve tried Milkthistle. I’ve even tried a shot of Russian vodka with a shot of gherkin juice under the instructions of a Russian granny. Expensive urine is all I’m going to say. Eating is nigh on impossible, with cravings that can vary from marmite to strawberries; sometimes it’s that little something that I can’t quite put my finger on which I pursue in the hopes that it will quell all pain. Most of the time I just feel violently sick after ploughing through a (large) big Mac and fries. Sleep is a no-go due to the exquisite headache involved. ‘Going for a run’, as one moron advised me, is also impractical. ‘Man up’ may in fact be the only good advice I’ve ever received on the matter.


Until one sunny luncheon time, when a kind man told me about KGB pills. Invented by the KGB, these pills were designed to counter the effects of alcohol, allowing agents to winkle information out of their inebriated new drinking buddy whilst remaining sober. Obviously this failed, alcohol being beyond the realms of science, but the resulting RU-21 pill has other uses: salvaging the supervisions (and May Weeks) of students across Cambridge.


Further research informed me that these KBG pills claim to reduce your hangover by ‘enhancing enzyme functions in the body, whilst oxygenating the cells, keeping the energy levels up and metabolic pathways running.‘ According to the purveyors of this magic product, RU-21 aids the body’s digestive system by supporting the decomposition of alcohol’s digestive byproducts into acetic acid, water and carbon dioxide. It sounded too good to be true.


So in the interest of good science and journalism, I decided to put these pills to the test. Having spoken to my nerdy scientist/banker brother, I soon learned of the ‘double blind’ approach. Due to the psychological nature of treatment and experimentation, neither patient nor analyst can know which pills are being given to whom. So having purchased some KGB pills from (£4.99 for 20, bargain) I was off. The video on the website didn’t fill me with confidence, despite reassurance from GQ magazine: “it really, really WORKS!”, but I soldiered on.

Enter the guinea pigs: myself (a true man goes down with his ship), two other lads, and one frail lady. Each of us was given a little package containing some pills, with the instructions to take two, go out and get hammered, and then take two more before bed. I even generously gave everyone a bottle of the world’s rankest wine to get us all on our way. This was real science.


Subject one (i.e. me) showed classic signs of a hangover the next morning. I felt foul. Subject two unfortunately was roused early in the morning by his drinking society and started drinking before he knew what had hit him. Lad. Subject three complained of no headache or ‘sickiness’, but was still being a mopey gripey pain in the arse. Subject four (the lady) apparently “never gets hangovers that much really anyway,” so that was pretty pointless.


Two and four had the pills. Any correlation? Not really. Interestingly when subject two was informed that he had indeed taken the cure-all pills, he changed his mind and said he did actually feel better.


The search for the ultimate cure is still on – but if you’re willing to kid yourself, then spend a bit on money of these babies and you’ll be whistling all the way to lectures the next morning come Michaelmas.