Today begins February, which, at Yale, means three things: freezing temperatures, first papers and Feb Club. Across the country and the world, as part of Feb Club Emeritus, Yalies of all generations will get together to drink and make merry.
However, all this frivolity comes at a cost: Even if we manage to work hard, play hard and make it though seminar without doing our reading, our physical well-being may be compromised.
No one needs to be told twice that drinking is not the best way to release tension or deal with cold weather and that the best way to prevent a hangover is not to get drunk in the first place, so I’ll spare you. But if you’re going to drink, you need to have a plan for when you wake up.
Sleeping until 1 p.m. then popping Tylenol and downing a drink from Publick Cup are popular band-aids, but they offer more of a placebo effect than anything else and won’t leave you with enough stamina to make it though the month. Instead, they’ll leave you at dinner with a dry mouth, headache, bloodshot eyes, nausea and dizziness —veisalgia for the scientifically inclined. And that venti quadruple latte will dehydrate you and make you more drunk and trust me, nobody likes a fidgety drunk.
And while IV-D5W dextrose is an option, unless you want to spend your Saturday nights at University Health Services or Yale-New Haven Hospital, you’re better off using cures you can find at Gourmet Heaven.
Water, for instance, is an easy fix. It counteracts diuretic effects of alcohol that drain fluids from your body and brain. And after you’ve had several ounces, hit the glucose.
When you drink, especially over the span of several hours, your body enters a state of hypoglycemia — the work your liver does to break down the alcohol interferes with its ability to utilize energy stores. You can replenish these stores (and your ability to walk without wobbling) with a glucose pill or carbohydrates. As Marie Antoinette said (after a particularly wild night), “Let them eat cake!”
And if cake isn’t enough, diner foods may come to the rescue. Hangover kings and queens delight in greasy foods that absorb alcohol while pumping you full of cysteine — a non-essential amino acid found in most dairy, meat and eggs that counteracts liver damage and toxicity. Plus, it gives you a legitimate excuse for the Eli’s Breakfast Sandwich.
But you don’t have to head to a griddle to cure your hangover. According to Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, vitamin B6 might mitigate the symptoms. Although the vitamin is best taken as pill (several hundred times the daily dosage is necessary for full symptom prevention), it can also be found in orange, beet, or carrot juices as well as in beans. And vitamin C is a panacea for most college students, but it is especially effective with alcohol — in addition, to stimulating your liver to break down the toxin, it boosts immunity to prevent a cold that could take you off the Feb-club circuit.
For those who are cheap, there are free ways to get better too: A 1999 study published in the journal Anesthesiology found that oxygen can decrease nausea as effectively as an anesthetic. In addition, oxygen increases your metabolism, which will help you eliminate toxins faster. So, take the long route home on your Walk of Shame.
And when you get there, take a shower. A long shower not only wakes you up, but also gives you a psychological Red Bull by washing off the literal and metaphorical dirt from the night before.
And if you believe in the power of pharmaceuticals, pain relievers may work, but you need to pick the right ones. Aspirin irritates the stomach, and Tylenol can be toxic to your liver, which has already been slaving away to keep up with last night’s debauchery. However, ibuprofen or naproxen will do the trick temporarily — they will postpone some of the symptoms for four to six hours.
This is not to say that drinking should be done without restraint — even this month — but taking adequate precautions to minimize the damage is a start. For the next 28 days you can drink every night, but make sure also you take care of yourself each morning.
Rebecca Stern is a sophomore in Berkeley College.