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    This originally appeared in Vol. IV of Louisville Swig, December 2015
    Image: NYPL Digital Collections

    Local pharmacist Sam Lee explains why some people get nasty hangover headaches. And he talks about Normalyte, the orange-flavored powder he created to ease them. Lee had Sullivan University pharmacy students taste-test Normalyte in the development phase. He plans to add grape and green-apple flavors to the line next year. Right now, it’s available at local pharmacies, like St. Matthews Pharmacy and Wish’s Drugs, or by special order at CVS and Kroger pharmacies. “With Normalyte, an oral rehydration salt, you’re basically doing two things: You’re replacing electrolytes (specifically, sodium and potassium, which regulate fluids) that you lost, but you’re also moving water into your muscles and tissue,” Lee says.

    How does drinking alcohol cause dehydration and headaches? 
    “The way the dehydration part happens is, there’s a hormone in your body called vasopressin. It actually tells your body, ‘Hey, let’s keep these fluids in.’ When you drink (alcohol), the vasopressin gets blocked, so you’re eliminating more fluids.” (Your body then starts pulling water from where it’s not needed immediately, which includes your brain. That’s why your head starts hurting.)

    What’s the story behind Normalyte? Were you intending to develop a hangover-easing elixir?
    “My son had diarrhea and vomiting and he didn’t eat or drink for 48 hours and he just doesn’t like Pedialyte. He was sleeping in between my wife and me because he was sick. He gets up and does The Exorcist: head goes around, pukes everywhere, on everything. We throw him in the bath, and I’m trying to give him Pedialyte and he wouldn’t drink it. When we first rolled Normalyte out, it was mostly for diarrhea and vomiting, but then people started reaching out to us — we had construction people, athletes and then people who wanted to use it for hangovers.”

    Seems like a lot of people are using Pedialyte to ease their hangovers. How is Normalyte different?
    “Normalyte has more electrolytes per liter and, the way that we formulate it, it’s very efficient in the way that it moves and transfers water into your stomach, muscles and tissue. So you can get better quicker if you drink the same amount.”

    If I want to use Normalyte to ease my hangover, what would you recommend doing?
    “If I talk to a person and I know they’re going to get hammered, I tell them, ‘Before you drink, pre-drink some Normalyte.’ (Lee recommends half a packet of powder and half a liter of water.) Get a good base, so that you have the electrolytes. And remember to drink some water in between your drinks. If you don’t, you’re going to be losing a lot more fluids than you’re putting in, so drink a glass of water every two or three drinks — hopefully, every other drink, but that doesn’t always happen. Then drink some Normalyte (the other half of the packet, plus another half a liter of water) before you go to sleep.” 

    Have you tried this?
    “I have. Many times. And it works very well.”

    Are there other ways to make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes, such as through diet? 
    “Most Americans will get plenty of sodium through their diet in everyday life. In times of distress or heavy sweating, extra sodium intake is encouraged. Potassium can be obtained through bananas and other fruits and vegetables.”

    Do you have a recommendation, other than hydration, to ease hangovers? 
    “Hydration and electrolyte replacement are key. Other things may be food, rest, pain reliever — not acetaminophen-based — and, most importantly, time.”

    What’s your drink of choice?
    “Scotch, neat.”

     

    This originally appeared in Vol. IV of Louisville Swig, December 2015
    Image: NYPL Digital Collections

     

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