Your Brain on Hangovers: The Scientific Reasons for Why You Feel So Awful

We know what alcohol does to your brain, but as we approach the holidays, that season of over-imbibing, another question comes to mind: How does a hangover affect the brain and the body?

Neuroscientist Ph.D. candidate Shannon Odell explores how alcohol’s after-effects cause the brain to change. The medical term for a hangover and its symptoms is veisalgia, a Greek and Norwegian word meaning “uneasiness following debauchery” and “pain,” as Odell explains in the above video.

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She explores theories that for why we are hungover, including a build-up of the toxic compound acetaldehyde in the body, the product of metabolized alcohol as it’s broken down in the liver. People with a genetic deficiency in the ALDH2 gene — which rids the body of acetaldehyde — often suffer worse hangovers. The theory that acetaldehyde build-up and others are explored in the above video with a literally hungover Odell.

If you end up drinking too much during the holidays, know that it’s likely a combination of factors that’s causing your hangover. This latest Your Brain on Blank episode isn’t a hangover cure, but you’ll at least be able to separate fact from fiction about hangovers (as you chug a Gatorade and reach for more Ibuprofen while inside a dark room.)

Now watch this: “A Drunk Neuroscientist Explains What Alcohol Does To Your Brain”

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