We’re always being promised a new pill for something. A sunscreen pill, a weight-loss pill, a contraceptive pill for men. And they always come with the same questions. Could we depend on it? Would it even work? Trust a man to take a contraceptive pill, are you on mushrooms?
What about a pill that could replace the yearning for the sweet release of death from a hangover? There’s a new hangover pill available to Irish customers that a Swedish company is claiming can negate the debilitating effect of a feed of pints.
Myrkl — pronounced “miracle”, obviously — is a probiotic that claims to help “regular moderate drinkers to wake up feeling their best the next day”. The company says it does this by breaking down the majority of the alcohol before it’s absorbed into the bloodstream, as long as two pills are taken between one and 12 hours before consuming the beverages. The science says it would be infinitely more effective to drink less in the first place, and your wallet agrees. A box of 30 Myrkl (currently sold out online) costs almost €35 before postage.
Admittedly, a miracle hangover cure gets more appealing the older I get. For the first 15 years of my drinking career I thought I was unstoppable. Hangovers rarely felled me and when they did, it was because of an anomaly like straight vodka (my kryptonite) or the early stages of kidney stones. My mother once accused me of being hungover when I had food poisoning so bad I thought I was dying. If I hadn’t been thinking about writing a will I would have protested that a hangover would never take me down like a dodgy piece of ham.
Having an iron constitution is a dubious and irresponsible boast, but it got me through my 20s of working early shifts and weekends and going out at least four nights a week. I once abandoned a party at 3am for bed because I had to be in work at 6. A fellow partyer laughed, thinking I was joking. As I passed back though the party at 5.30am to leave he congratulated me on my dedication. He still thought I was joking until I pulled the front door behind me and trudged work-ward.
Somewhere around my mid-30s things began to shift. I was no longer capable of pulling through no matter what. I couldn’t confidently schedule a meeting, flight or haircut the morning after a night out. After a night on the Pinot Greej my skin no longer looked like a baby’s backside and instead looked like an octogenarian’s. My friends were the same and it’s only got worse with each advancing year. Now instead of trotting off to work on an hour’s sleep, I need an IV and a visit from an emotional support dog. Instead of reaching for a cheeky little cure, I’m contacting funeral directors, ready for the urn and family flowers only. The science says that as you age you have a lower volume of total body water and therefore higher alcohol concentration in your blood. It takes longer to eliminate the alcohol and therefore it can feel like the hangovers stretch on for two, three or even four days.
Getting older comes with the added blow that just existing can feel like a hangover. A takeaway heaving with monosodium glutamate (MSG) can make you feel like you were on the Jägerbombs the following morning. A sober friend tells me that she gets a “social hangover” just from the effort of being among her peers and on top form. I can only hope that as one enters one’s 50s and beyond that the shame, disappointment and hangxiety abate as you truly stop giving a flying fork what anyone thinks of you.
Ageing hangovers are such a universal experience among drinkers it’s remarkable that we don’t have an Irish word to describe them, given that we’re traditionally (and stereotypically) such fans of gabbing and imbibing. We have plenty of unique words as Gaeilge. To plamás someone is to flatter them sufficiently to get your own way. Aiteall is a spell of fine weather between showers. A seonín is an Irish person who prefers the English ways of doing things. Maybe our word for hangovers worsening with age could be a derivative of storc, which means a person who dies in an upright position. Or maológ which refers to filling something to the brim and then some.
Myrkl may claim some success in its test subjects, but I highly doubt it is a magic pill for those who insist on doing the dog on it when they’re old enough to know better. Fewer drinks, no drinks or at least a glass of water between each drink will likely serve you better, along with refraining from scheduling a child’s swimming lesson, a full head of highlights or a 7am flight the morning after when you are only fit to be seen by Massey Bros. RIP.