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"Old Sober" Hangover Cure is Science-Approved

Scientists say the legendary New Orleans' noodle dish is proven to cure a hangover.

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By Bryan Le

04/10/13

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Scientists have proven the legendary New Orleans hangover remedy “Old Sober” is more than just an old wives' tale. Yesterday at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, Dr. Alyson E. Mitchell of UC Davis presented evidence on how the noodle soup dish, also known as "Yaka-mein," can ease the morning-after symptoms brought on by heavy drinking. The dish, often sold from sidewalk vendors during New Orleans festivals, is made with a salty beef and soy-based broth, carb-rich spaghetti noodles, a protein source like beef (or chicken or shrimp), onions, chopped scallions and a sliced hard-boiled egg. The recipe is rumored to have originated in Korea, and traveled stateside after the war. “Folklore has it that American soldiers from New Orleans stationed in Korea in the 1950s learned to appreciate Yak-a-mein on the morning after, and brought a taste for it back home,” says Mitchell. “It may be a good example of intuitive science—an effective remedy, and with the scientific basis revealed only years later.”

So how does it work, exactly? The broth helps replace sodium, potassium and other salts lost through urination from alcohol's diuretic effects. The egg contains cysteine, proven to help remove acetaldehyde, the product of ethylene metabolization thought to cause hangovers. And the noodles are rich in much-needed carbohydrates. “Old Sober” also contains at least two sources of vitamin B1, eggs and wheat-based noodles, which helps prevent the buildup of glutarate—a substance linked to headaches. Scientists have yet to verify a number of other traditional hangover cures from around the world, including:

  • a lump of soot from the fireplace mixed into a glass of warm milk
  • a pickled herring wrapped around an onion or pickle
  • a prairie oyster—a concoction of vinegar, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice and a raw egg
  • Montreal's poutine (fries drowned in cheese and gravy)
  • buffalo milk
  • rubbing lemon juice under your "drinking arm"
  • voodoo

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