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Never Hungover: Too good to be true?


September 16, 2014

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    All people have their go-to hangover cure: the greasy food therapy, the take-an-aspirin-and-drink-a-bathtub treatment or a little hair of the dog that bit you. However, a Statesboro local is claiming that his enterprise has found the elusive foolproof cure in the form of a vitamin supplement. Never Hungover, a new drink that is becoming wildly popular in the bar and party scene across the U.S., claims to stop a hangover before it even happens.

The story
    Never Hungover CEO Parrish Whitaker first encountered the product as a vitamin supplement and antioxidant formula. His sister had been diagnosed with lupus and, in an attempt to save her, Whitaker’s father donated his kidney to her. Their family's holistic doctor prescribed the antioxidant to speed up their recovery process, and to show support, the rest of the family started taking the formula as a daily vitamin supplement. Whitaker realized not long afterward that while he was taking the supplement, he stopped having hangovers after drinking.
    That was where Smith Baggett came in. Baggett, a Statesboro bull rider who has appeared regularly at local rodeos, was working with marketing companies to ease his transition out of bull riding. He had lots of time to think and dream up marketing projects during the long hours he spent on the road, driving cross-country from rodeo to rodeo. When Baggett heard that his friend had ceased having hangovers thanks to the antioxidant, a lightbulb went on in his head.
    Through his company, All-In Marketing, Baggett began working with Whitaker to market the antioxidant as a preventative measure against hangovers and to place it in major retail stores. Now Whitaker’s partner at Never Hungover, Baggett has been marketing around Statesboro in the past few weeks, before and after Never Hungover had its official rollout in Georgia on Aug. 28. Several stores, including the Fast & Easy convenience stores near Georgia Southern’s campus, are now carrying the little red-and-white bottles.
    “It’s catching on like crazy,” Baggett said in an interview back in August, just before GSU's move-in weekend. “School’s not even in, and the students are just blowing through it.”
    It tastes like a lemon-lime energy drink and won't interfere with a drinker's buzz. The product has had plenty of celebrity endorsement, and bars and bloggers are giving it their stamp of approval. But for any party-going student of Georgia Southern, the big question should be: Does Never Hungover actually work?
     
The claims
    Never Hungover cites the toxin acetaldehyde, which is produced in your liver during the process of breaking down alcohol, as the primary cause of hangovers. According to its website, Never Hungover helps an individual's body break down acetaldehydes into acetic acid, which is then processed and disposed of — essentially catalyzing a process that happens naturally in the body.
    Furthermore, the product claims that its "proprietary blend of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals also hydrate the body and restore vital nutrients." In order for the product to work, customers are instructed to take one bottle of Never Hungover for every four drinks consumed, before or while drinking.
    Articles on the National Institutes of Health website correlate with Never Hungover's basic science behind the understanding of a hangover. Even so, the NIH reports, "Despite the prevalence of hangovers," this condition "is not well understood scientifically." Perhaps this is why there hasn't been much input from the medical community regarding whether or not the product can actually affect your body's process of breaking down alcohol.

The skeptics
    At Connect's request, Dr. C. Allen Scott, the director of emergency services at Statesboro's East Georgia Regional Medical Center, took a look at Never Hungover's ingredients, website and product reviews.
    "From what I can tell, there is no hard science that can recommend the product as a treatment or a preventative treatment for hangovers," Dr. Scott said.
    In Scott's opinion and in many articles on the National Institutes of Health's website, individuals have a very personalized reaction to alcohol that can vary from day to day. Factors such as what one has eaten, stress levels and sleep deprivation all play into how an individual will process alcohol in any amount, which in turn will determine whether or not he or she gets a hangover. That's not to mention height, weight and regular alcohol consumption, which all play a role in hangovers. In Scott's opinion,  there are too many variables for a single product to work across the board for everyone.     
    As a dietary supplement, Scott said Never Hungover was about as good as "any other multivitamin or antioxidant, or any other good nutritional supplement you would want to take." By itself, the drink is, at the very least, harmless.
    "The only harmful possibility would be if one would think you could drink more as a result of taking the product. The only surefire way of avoiding a hangover is not to overindulge, and to drink responsibly," Scott said.
    Aside from a brief appearance on the CBS show The Doctors and a "Doctor Trusted" seal on the website, there are few to no medical endorsements or criticisms of the product readily available. Additionally, the product is not approved by the Food and Drug association — and according to Baggett, the company is not pursuing that approval.

The defense
    "Of course, I respect anyone's opinion. Especially a doctor's," Baggett said in response to Scott's criticisms. Additionally, he pointed out, a medical doctor and a holistic doctor "usually have different opinions."
    "I guess I could use [Scott's] argument for a daily vitamin," Baggett said. "How does a one-a-day work for everyone? Why does a 100-pound person take one and a 300-pound person take one? Then, when I thought about it long and hard, I decided I will ask the people that have purchased over one million Never Hungovers. I'll get back to you when I'm done."
    
The verdict
    It appears, then, that the jury is out in the case of Never Hungover. Of course, you can always try the product out for yourself. The two-ounce bottles of Never Hungover — which should safeguard you against four drinks — are available in Fast & Easy convenience stores for $3.50 a bottle. You can even mix it with a little hair of the dog for a Never Hungover cocktail.
    And if it doesn't work, you always have your go-to hangover cure to fall back on.

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