How To Avoid A Hangover This St. Patty’s Day
March 17, 2013

How To Avoid A Hangover This St. Patty’s Day

This weekend marks the coming of the green holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. Many celebrants will be out and about partying in the name of the Irish. Though several people will be partaking in games and parades, others will be drinking the green beer, Jameson, and Irish coffees to mark the holiday. As part reminder and part education, the American Chemical Society (ACS) released a totally awesome and fun video to help people understand the dangers of too much booze.

The ACS is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. Their goal is to inform and educate on chemistry. The chemical reactions of alcohol are just one area they study and release information about. The video, called “The Chemistry of Alcohol and Hangovers,” is just one of many they have on different chemical topics.

The video explains the possible side effects of too much alcohol (what we commonly call a hangover), as well as the causes and processes that lead to these effects. Now, several months ago I wrote about the yuckiness of a hangover in a different blog, plus I wrote about the connection of drinking and smoking as well as the dangers of binge drinking, especially for women. The video released by ACS definitely supports all that those blogs say. Too much drinking is seriously dangerous, not too mention leads to more pain.

In the ACS press release, they state the unpleasant after effects of too much alcohol:

  • Headaches, caused by low blood sugar and allergic reactions to certain ingredients in liquor.
  • Nausea and upset stomach, resulting from alcohol’s irritant effect, which stimulates the secretion of acid in the stomach.
  • Thirst, the result of alcohol’s dehydrating effects on the body.

The video explains exactly why this happens. Let’s take nausea and upset stomach. As the video shows, this happens because alcohol is a stomach irritant that causes the stomach to excrete extra acid, which is the same used to breakdown foods. This acid irritates the stomach lining when nothing is in there to protect the lining from the acid. So because booze inflames the stomach making it excrete more acid, the acid then irritates the stomach lining causes much pain and possibly even nausea.

The video goes on to explain why we get a headache. Congeners are a chemical byproduct of fermentation and often lead to a severe headache due to the body’s chemical reaction to congeners. Methyl, butyl, and amyl alcohol are congeners that cause the hangover headache, and most beers, mixed drinks, and wines have these.

The video explains all of this information about alcohol in a way that is both informing and entertaining. The mixture of education with fun images really helps to explain why our bodies react the way they do to booze. In fact, I learned that cocktails made with soda actual help to move alcohol through the digestion and chemical reactive processes while proteins keep alcohol from these.

Ultimately, though, the whole point of the ACS video is to be responsible when drinking. Do not over drink because the hangover and other side effects damage our bodies too much. Moreover, drinking responsibly means not to drink and drive. Should you enjoy a cocktail or green beer or two this St. Patty’s Day, remember what the ACS promoted.

Image Credit: newcorner / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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