Do Anti-Hangover Pills Actually Work?
Imagine a crazy night out when the drinks flowed a little too much. You are catching up with your buddies after a long time, and you have a full night ahead of you. A second drink is ordered before the first is even finished, and various kinds of alcohol are mixed up. The night is soon a blur and the next thing you know, you wake up with a throbbing headache, a dehydrated body and the inability to get out of bed. When the dreaded hangover comes, you regret everything.
But what if you could have all the fun without the consequences? Party without regret? Have the fabulous fun night that you went out with the intention of but don’t suffer the hangover the next day? A range of pills, available over-the-counter, now offer you just that. It seems too good to be true, sounding more like magic than magic ever did.
The Magic Pills for Hangovers
The most well-known is Party Smart, Himalaya’s capsules which claim to ‘relieve the ill-affects of alcohol’; a pack of twenty-five capsules are available for Rs. 35/0. Party Smart claims to alleviate after-effects like nausea, fatigue, and headache amongst others, and has the lion’s share in the market. Dr. Vaidya’s LIVitup too brands itself as a ‘hangover shield’ and says that its consumption will prevent hangovers in the short term and protect the liver in the long term. Partigard, another capsule based hangover prevention/relief product, combats the symptoms of a hangover. All these are meant to be had BEFORE you step out of the house.
Then there are products that are not pills but attempt to be specialized cures that reinfuse you after a long night of drinking. Morning Fresh products are bottled concoctions containing vitamins, proteins and extracts that promise to make you wake up fresh if you have it in the morning after a night of drinking. Dot Shot presents itself as an ‘anti-hangover drink’, the last shot you should have in the night, which will restore essential electrolytes and nutrition. ARMR anti-hangover shots also claim to do the same, except they are to be had before the party begins.
But Do these Pills Actually Work?
Anti-hangover pills are available easily over the counter and without prescription - do they work or are these products simply marketing tactics capitalizing on the placebo effect? Are they saving you from a bad hangover or are they just making you think that you are safe from a headache and consequently don’t let you feel a headache?
Alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde once it enters the body by the liver, and large quantities of acetaldehyde causes nausea, fatigue, and other symptoms of a hangover. Party Smart for example contains chicory, dates, a grape vine, and green chiretta that helps counter the effects of acetaldehyde.
Samrit, a financial adviser based in Delhi, insists that the pill works for him.
"There is a marked difference, and maybe it’s the placebo effect or whatever, I’d rather be safe than sorry. I take it about one or two times a month," he says.
Arjun Vaidya, whose family brand Dr. Vaidya’s, makes LIVitup, says, "The product has received stellar reviews not just from India but across the globe- it has been used by more than 500,000 consumers. The great part about it is that you can see its effects just the next morning. So we don’t blow our own trumpet on its efficacy but instead urge people to pop two capsules before their first drink and try it for themselves."
Would a doctor recommend it though?
“See, these are herbal cures that we as allopathic doctors cannot possibly recommend. There is a discomfort in hangover that can be alleviated, but it’s a small fix. The best thing is to just limit your consumption of alcohol.”Dr Surenjit Chaterjee, Internal Medicine, Apollo
Party Smart, But Could it Push You Towards Over Drinking?
Our research forces us to consider however - are hangovers not necessary to act as a deterrent and make sure that we don’t end up over drinking each time? It’s the thought of a hangover that makes us hold ourselves back the next time around, one of the few things, apart from money, that stops us from drinking ourselves to death. If there was all party and no punishment for it, would it encourage you to drink away more often?
Additionally, there is the danger that you end up drinking way more than you normally would have because you think you have a safeguard.
Ill-effects of alcohol have been well documented.
Anti-hangover pills seem harmless enough, but the consensus is that it shouldn't encourage anyone to binge.
"No side-effects of these anti-hangover pills have been reported to me," says Dinesh Girdhar of Girdhar Garden Pharmacy. "People buy it from me quite often, and it seems safe enough. But the best thing to do would be just to drink a good brand of alcohol!"
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