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Can You Cure a Hangover?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ringing in the New Year with too much bubbly might lead to a rough start to 2012.  But a new wave of hangover-fighting pills and patches, plus a handful of old standbys, claim to spare you the headache, fatigue and upset stomach brought on by booze.

The latest concoction, “Blowfish,” combines aspirin, caffeine and an antacid into an Alka-Seltzer-like effervescent tablet.  When dropped into a glass of water, it fizzes up a lemony brew that packs the hangover-fighting power of two extra-strength aspirins, three espressos and a greasy breakfast.

“It’s the only over-the-counter drug that’s specifically hangover-related,” Blowfish creator Brenna Haysom told ABC News. “The [Food and Drug Administration] has specifically said our formula is effective for treating hangover symptoms.”

A hangover is a collection of symptoms that emerge as alcohol’s intoxicating effects wear off.  Alcohol is thought to trigger an inflammatory response -- a process blocked by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin.  The inflammatory response is similar to the body’s defense against the flu, and is linked to lethargy -- an energy lull boosted by caffeine.  Finally, the chemicals produced by the body to break alcohol down are hard on the stomach -- collateral damage tempered by an antacid.

Aspirin and caffeine are already FDA-approved, so Blowfish can be sold over-the-counter without being itself FDA-approved.

Because hangovers are so poorly understood, the jury’s still out on how best to treat them.  And it’s unclear whether Blowfish, which contains acetylsalicylic acid and citric acid at doses likely to cancel out its stomach-soothing effects, is better than the age-old hangover remedy: aspirin and a cup of coffee.

“Almost no research at all has been done on the hangover state,” said Dr. Timothy Collins, associate professor of medicine and neurology at Duke University Medical Center’s Pain and Palliative Care Clinic.  “Without any clinical trial data, it’s hard to really talk about how well any treatment’s going to work.”

Personal anecdotes, however, support Blowfish and a host of other hangover remedies -- from banana smoothies to pickle juice -- in preventing or at least minimizing hangovers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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