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Medical professionals disagree about new hangover remedies

(TNS) Unless you're the designated driver, holiday parties are often associated with that wrecked morning-after feeling: nausea, dehydration, dizziness. And typical remedies — black coffee, aspirin, a greasy meal — might not always work.

Which explains why health care entrepreneurs — among them doctors and surgeons — have introduced products intended to be taken before and during a night out, designed to head off the more unpleasant effects of drinking. The shots, capsules, waters, even tea bags, are designed to be tossed into a purse or pocket and consumed regularly throughout a night of partying. Many are said to work by helping the liver speed up the detoxifying process, or by flushing the body with electrolytes and B vitamins, as well as more nontraditional ingredients such as Japanese raisin tree, milk thistle and prickly pear extract.

Glutathione, the substance is produced naturally by the liver, is a key ingredient. Levels of glutathione are compromised by alcohol consumption, said Danielle Citrolo, manager of technical services at Kyowa Hakko USA, which manufactures glutathione for use in some of these hangover remedies.

"It's the master antioxidant in our body, and when we drink a lot of alcohol, we use it all up," she said. "That impedes the body's ability to metabolize the alcohol out of the system."

There are treatments inspired by the worst after-effects of alcohol poisoning — the kind that land the drinker in the emergency room. Medical doctors Romy Block and Arielle Levitan used to administer "banana bags" to those who ended up in a hospital after over-indulging; a bright yellow bag of IV fluids containing magnesium sulfate, thiamine and folic acid. The doctors have since launched Recovery Act, four banana-colored capsules priced at $5 containing the same ingredients.

"The idea of hangover prevention is even more important than treating it," Levitan said. "These vitamins and minerals work better when they're taken while someone is drinking instead of waiting for the hangover effects in the morning."

Some medical professionals are worried these trendily packaged and marketed anti-hangover treatments might be sending the wrong message.

"Younger people may be attracted to the idea behind these products — that 'If this is going to help me in the morning, I can go crazy tonight,'" said Damon Raskin, an internist in private practice who is also the medical detox specialist at Cliffside, a rehabilitation center in Malibu, Calif. Still, Raskin said, a big concern is the lack of regulation of these products.

"Almost none of them are (Food and Drug Administration)- approved, nor have they gone through rigorous studies to show that they do anything at all. Obviously, the best thing for a hangover is to drink in moderation, and not to get one."

Otherwise, he said, for those determined to overindulge, investing in these products is hardly necessary.

"Take a multivitamin, drink a sports drink and plenty of water, eat a banana, have some food in you — you can get all the same benefits, and it would be a lot cheaper," he said. "These hangover products are not a get-out-of-jail-free card."


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