John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The doctor behind Hangover Heaven promises his IV treatment will erase your worst hangover in as little as 45 minutes.
UPDATE: A spokeswoman for insurance company Anthem says: "I checked around and it seems unlikely that we would contract to cover this – most likely this IV treatment isn’t evidence-based medicine." Tough luck, drinkers!
ORIGINAL: Seeing as how you can get trashed on a Las Vegas "party bus," it only makes sense that you can get the next morning's hangover cured on one, too.
On Saturday, the Hangover Heaven bus took its first spin around the Las Vegas Strip, picking up 10 to 15 bleary, head-clutching invalids and sticking IV needles into their arms, according to a company staffer. These miserable sufferers of veisalgia shelled out $90 for an introductory basic package to $150 for a deluxe package, chock full of vitamins and anti-nausea/inflammatory drugs, then chillaxed in slick lounges or on bunks while the fluids helped flush their pain away.
The brain behind Hangover Heaven is Jason Burke, a Duke-trained anesthesiologist (he's licensed, I checked) who is something of a pioneer in the field of hangover management. Burke ended up in this unusual branch of medicine after enduring a few rip-roaring head-crushers himself. Why not, he wondered, apply the sort of recovery measures that follow surgery toward attacking one of humankind's oldest afflictions? As the good doctor explains on his website:
In the end, I feel that partiers, wine aficionados, and club-goers around the world are a medically under-served population. They have been neglected for a long time by the medical community. Billions of dollars are poured into medical research every year to treat a variety of conditions, but hangovers receive little attention. Hangover Heaven is here to fill that void.
Physicians don't yet know all the things that cause hangovers; it's thought that impurities in alcohol and the byproducts of its breakdown induce inflammation in the body, and that dehydration adds to the pain. While previous "cures" have involved folk remedies like swilling beef bouillon or sauerkraut juice, or just growing "a pair" (thanks, Auto Blog commenter), Burke's process "relies on encouraging the enzymatic reaction that breaks down the by-products of alcohol, namely acetylaldehyde [sic]." That's the chemical that makes people want to "curl up and die," according to Burke.
The whole Hangover Heaven treatment can last 45 minutes to more than an hour depending on the person's Jäger consumption, vein size and the like. The bus's suspension delivers an "ultra-smooth" ride, so don't worry too much about getting an IV needle jammed through your arm when the vehicle hits a pothole.
If there's ever a city that needed a mobile hangover cure, so that achy, nauseated imbibers can quickly get back to nuking their livers, it's Las Vegas. Burke claims a 95 percent success rate in resolving hangovers "completely," and a series of customer testimonials from gamblers and partygoers reflects a decent level of satisfaction. Here's a guy named Alex who took down 30 drinks the night before, who reports that the IV produces a "cold, tingly feeling" and is something that "everybody should at least try it once":
Hangover Heaven does not have any contracts with health-insurance companies, so don't try whipping out your Blue Cross card upon entry. A media representative from Anthem, an insurer in Nevada, says that it's a "good question" whether hangover mediation qualifies for coverage, but as of press time hadn't found an answer. I'm guessing: No.