Sweet cure for a hangover

FORGET prairie oysters and paracetamol - the best treatment for a hangover is toast and honey, say experts.

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, a breakfast of honey or golden syrup spread on toast is the most effective remedy for pounding heads and heaving stomachs.

Dr John Emsley, a member of the society and author of the Consumer's Good Chemical Guide, said: "The happiness comes from alcohol; the hangover comes from acetaldehyde.

"That is the toxic chemical into which alcohol is converted by the body and it causes a throbbing headache, nausea and maybe even vomiting. The hangover disappears as acetaldehyde is slowly converted to less toxic chemicals."

Only time cures a hangover, as the acetaldehyde in the body gradually dissipates, he said. But eating toast and honey could speed your recovery by replenishing sodium, potassium and fructose levels. Fluids also help, but a "hair of the dog" only works by relieving alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

If topping up the body's alcohol levels brings relief, it should ring alarm bells as it suggests you are getting addicted, Dr Emsley added.

He also suggested a recipe to avoid a hangover in the first place. First, drink a glass of milk, which slows down alcohol absorption, and then stick to gin, or vodka, and tonic. They are relatively "clean" spirits, twice purified by distillation with mere traces of botanical flavours, Dr Emsley said.

Dark-coloured drinks ought to be avoided as they contain natural chemicals that can have an adverse effect. Drinking non-alcoholic fluids is also important, as alcohol increases water loss. "The dehydration makes a hangover worse, so moderate your drinking with a soft drink now and again, and drink a large glass of water before sleeping," said Dr Emsley.

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