A cure that isn't

Hangover: Try what you want, but rest is the best way to heal the letdown that follows carousing.

January 01, 2002

YOU ARE a true Baltimorean if you remember a little box that used to run each New Year's Day on the front page of The Sun.

"If not needed this morning, it may be clipped and saved for future contingencies," the box advised, and it went on to list the ingredients that "would sober a patient in 5 to 35 minutes."

This is the recipe:

Into a highball glass pour the juice of half a lemon or one orange. Add one-eighth of a teaspoon of salt, two teaspoons of brown sugar and enough ice water to make 8 ounces. Drink.

If it works, good. If it doesn't, it's like so many other hangover cures that promise a miracle and fail to deliver it.

The fact is no one has found a sure-fire panacea for that hollow let-down feeling that often follows too much partying. Worse yet, not even abstinence from alcohol always helps. Other factors -- sleep deprivation, too much smoke, excessive heat or noise -- contribute to the washed-out feeling.

A leading cause of hangovers is dehydration. That's why coffee may wake you up. But like alcohol, it's a diuretic, flushing fluids from the body. Drinking water may not sound appealing, but it's more effective.

Honey on toast may also be worth trying. Its fructose hastens the metabolism.

In the end, the best remedy is rest. Take it from a physician who had the following sign in his office: "A hangover is like a cold winter -- eventually it comes to an end."

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