Can this pill cure your hangover?
Eighteen months ago, Stefan Warink and Tjemme Piso started working on developing a cure for hangovers. They set up a crowdfunding campaign for 25,000 euro and engaged a manufacturer. This Friday, they’re launching Pil-s (pronounced pils) at café ‘t Uurwerkertje. They’re serving drinks, natch.
Theirs is not the first anti-hangover pill on the market. The inventors of KG-2, Glucomannan, Zober!, Health Paraxine, Reset After Drink (to be taken before, during, or after drinking) all claim their remedies will cure hangovers or at least make them bearable.
So what can Pil-s do that its predecessors can’t? One of them has already been taken off the market due to complaints of it not working, Warink says. Another pill requires you to take it before every single drink, so that’s a costly endeavour. You can take Pil-s on the morning of your hangover, and they’re only 3.50 each.
And, Waring emphasises, Pil-s isn’t an anti-hangover pill. It will just take the edge off. So it doesn’t cure your condition, but makes the symptoms bearable. ‘We all know what alcohol does to the body, depleting our reserves. Pil-s compensates for that.’
Warink and Piso’s pill contains, among other things, salt (to restore fluids), vitamin B, fructose (for energy), a painkiller, and cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper? ‘It helps to fight the nausea.’
‘It sounds like a jumbled mess’, says UMCG toxicologists Daan Touw. Pills like these are sold all the time, but their effects are dubious at best, says Touw. ‘We still don’t really know what causes a hangover. We know the effects of drinking, but we don’t know the underlying mechanism.’
You can mitigate certain hangover symptoms of course. Coffee will make you more energetic. Touw: ‘When I was in school, people would take Alka-Seltzer. I can’t speak from experience as I never drank excessively, but they said it worked against the headache.’
But Touw doesn’t believe in a working anti-hangover pill for a second. ‘There’s just no scientific foundation for it.’
Warink and Piso do believe it works. ‘Sure, there’s a lot we don’t know about hangovers, but there’s a lot we do. That’s what we focused on.’ They did a ‘study’ involving approximately fifty of their fellow students and friends, who they say responded positively. ‘There were one or two people for whom it didn’t work. Everyone reacts differently to things. But the majority of them were happy with it.’
Warink tried the pill himself after he’d partied a little too hard. ‘I had a hangover and was due to board a bus to Germany, which I was not looking forward to. So I was like, ooh, I have a pill left. I didn’t fall asleep on the bus and my headache was gone.’
But, says the pair, they’re not advocating for people to get drunk off their asses. It wouldn’t befit their image, since Warink is a former medical student and Piso studied biotechnology.
‘We’re not stimulating irresponsible drinking. See it as aftersun. Being out in the sun for a long time is fairly stupid, but it happens and so when you do get burned, the stuff comes in handy.’