Hangovers are as much a hallmark of the holidays as dazzling decorations, gaudy gifts and bounties of bubbling booze. As a holiday present for our overimbibing readers, The Examiner interviewed experts about their favorite cures for the drinking-induced headaches, shakes and nausea that threaten to dampen the holiday spirit.
Gabriel Cothes, Salt House Restaurant & Bar, South of Market
The career bartender and seasoned drinker offered two surefire hangover cures.
In a perfect world, Cothes said, a greasy fried egg followed by an hourlong nap will do the trick.
“As long as you get those eggs,” Cothes said, “what you serve them with doesn’t much matter.”
But “in the real world,” if you need to get up-and-running right away and can’t afford the nap, Cothes recommends a shot of warm vodka or gin in a plastic cup to get the bounce back in your step.
“Glass is too hard,” Cothes said. “You need something you can rest your face against.”
Tommy Stracke, Crunch Fitness, Marina district
For this fitness professional, nothing is better for kicking a hangover than water.
“Alcohol is almost like a diuretic, so water is pushed out of your body,” Stracke said. “A lot of the time, hangovers are caused mainly by dehydration.”
Stracke said that a stiff cup of coffee might feel good after a night on the grog, but it can actually exacerbate the hangover by worsening dehydration.
“The main thing is rehydration,” Stracke said.
Stracke says he usually exercises his hangovers away, but not before drinking plenty of water, which helps the body sweat toxins away.
“I always feel better after a workout after a night of drinking. For me, it always helps,” he said.
John Mendelson, California Pacific Medical Center, Nob Hill
This addiction treatment and research expert delivered sobering advice about hangovers: Don’t get them.
“Whether we do it ourselves or not, we never advise someone that it’s OK,” Mendelson said. “But alcohol in low doses doesn’t seem toxic at all.”
A hangover is a toxic reaction to a drug that’s telling you to ease off on the boozing, he said.
Mendelson said that the bartender’s hair-of-the-dog therapy is not a treatment for hangovers.
“What you’re really talking about treating [is] alcohol withdrawal. That’s really inadvisable because it means you’re on the path to alcohol addiction and alcoholism,” he said.
Herbalist and acupuncturist
Eunice Kan, Live Well, San Mateo
Not surprisingly, the acupuncturist plugged acupuncture as a cure for the headaches, nausea and vomiting symptoms of a monster hangover.
But Kan also suggested a specific Chinese herbal medicine that’s sold in San Francisco’s Chinatown that can help cure a hangover.
Bottles of huo xiang zheng qi san contain so many confusingly named ingredients that it’s probably best not to read the label with hungover eyes.
“It’s a formula that’s usually used for digestive problems, but it’s also great for hangovers,” Kan said. “A lot of the time when you’re hung over, you’re nauseous, so it can help relieve those symptoms.”