MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Can”Hair Of The Dog” Actually Work?

Ever been tempted to pour some bourbon into your coffee, or a little vodka into your O.J., the morning after an alcohol-fueled night out? Basically, combating your hangover with more alcohol, better known as “hair of the dog”? Why do we call it that? And does it really work?

The full phrase, “the hair of the dog that bit you”, developed back in the dark ages when folks believed that, to heal yourself after being bitten by a rabid dog, you should drink a special potion containing some hair from the rabid dog that bit you. (Spoiler alert: it did not then, nor does it now.)

While no one’s quite sure how it ended up as a euphemism for “curing a hangover by drinking more of the alcohol that made you hungover in the first place”, the question we really want to know is: does it work? Sadly, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to support the fighting booze with booze theory. The basic principle is that, since symptoms of a hangover come on once your body’s processed the alcohol, you can ward off those symptoms by simply giving your body more alcohol to process. The problem with that, however, is that you can’t keep drinking forever. And when you do eventually stop drinking, and your blood alcohol level returns to zero, that hangover is gonna show back up (and with an even harsher vengeance). “Hair of the dog” can forestall the window of time until you experience a hangover, but it can’t prevent it entirely. And because you’re just adding more booze to your already-shot system, your hangover will most likely be even worse when it eventually does take hold.

The only 100% proven way to cure a hangover…is to not get one in the first place. (Exhibit A: me! The last time I had a hangover was the last time I drank alcohol. And I haven’t missed either the liquor or the lousy hangovers.) But, if the pleasure of the drink is worth the pain of the withdrawal, then Cheers to you, my friend!

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].

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