Hangovers are the worst part of alcohol.
But how do they happen exactly?
Dehydration is a factor, of course.
Why do we get dehydrated though?
Alcohol reaches the brain through the bloodstream and stops the pituitary gland from producing vasopressin.
Vasopressin, or Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH), regulates water absorption in the body.
Without vasopressin, water goes straight from the kidneys to the bladder instead of being partly reabsorbed.
This is also why you have to pee so much when drinking.
However, lack of vasopressin is not the only potential cause of a hangover.
Acetaldehyde is a toxin that is produced by the breakdown of alcohol.
When you drink too much, the body uses up all the enzymes that break down this toxin, leaving a bunch of acetaldehyde in the body.
The levels of toxin, however, do not necessarily correlate with the severity of the hangover. This is one of many contributing factors.
A team of Korean scientists recently observed that the immune system may play a role as well.
In response to inflammation, the immune system produces cytokines.
Elevated levels of cytokines are correlated with hangovers.
And by injecting high levels of cytokines into healthy subjects, scientists found symptoms including headache, nausea, and fatigue.
And at extremely high levels of cytokines, subjects experienced memory loss.
Scientists still haven't figured out if it's any one of these factors (or all of them at once) that results in the experience of a hangover.
But they are hot on the trail of a solution.
Because a fool-proof hangover cure is worth billions of dollars.
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