Hangover Patches: Do They Work?

Can a patch prevent this from happening?
Can a patch prevent this from happening?

New Year's Eve might as well be nicknamed Hangover Eve, because for millions of Americans, it's time to get as wasted as possible. There's been a lot of buzz recently about Blowfish, the new over-the-counter drug made from caffeine and aspirin that's designed to alleviate hangover symptoms. Sounds pretty cool, no? But then we came across Bytox, a hangover remedy patch that you apply before you start drinking. "As of now, most people pay attention to the condition of a hangover once they have it. Smart people prevent it," explained Leonard Grossman, a New York-based plastic surgeon who is also a spokesman for the company.

Bytox is a small patch that you apply directly to your skin. It contains primarily B vitamins, including a whopping 10,000 percent of your daily thiamin (B1) needs. Grossman explained that a hangover is simply dehydration, and you're washing out your water-soluble vitamins. Bytox, which was released about six weeks ago after several months of testing, supposedly works by releasing them back into your system at a time-released rate so that you wouldn't simply excrete whatever your body couldn't use. "It's like an intravenous," he said. "You're getting the infusion that you need."

It should be noted that Grossman is the spokesman not because of the great link between hangovers and boob jobs, but because he is friends with one of the company's founders. I also asked some doctor friends of mine who admitted that B vitamins might help, but you might as well just take a series of vitamins with water while you're boozing it up. "Water is what cures hangovers. Period."

I asked Grossman the difference between Bytox and Blowfish. "They are a million miles away. I looked at Blowfish very carefully," he said. "It'll be shut down. There's no way they're FDA-approved. Blowfish is just caffeine and aspirin. Have you had a hangover and cured it with aspirin and caffeine? That's a bunch of BS. They might be using FDA-approved products, but the combo itself might not be FDA-approved."  

In the quest for scientific proof, I took Bytox twice over the past two weeks. Now, I'm prone to hangovers, so I was particularly excited to see if it would work. The patch is supposed to be applied 45 minutes before drinking, so I carefully unpeeled the clear strip and affixed it to my stomach (Grossman suggests the forearm because the skin is thinner). It did smell kind of like vitamins, though, so I wanted it far away from other people smelling it. The first evening, I got tanked on a combo of champagne and Old-Fashioneds and got appropriately sloshed. Enough so that I had to get drunk pizza on my way home. I then passed out and went to bed. In the morning when I woke up, I was sleepy for sure, but I didn't have a splitting headache. Could it be that it worked, or was it the magic of a late-night pepperoni slice? Still, this was amazeballs!

I then tested it out the following weekend, getting even more sloshed on champagne and several glasses of Maker's Mark. In fact, I got so drunk I fell in the middle of the street and my knees are still bruised. This time, though, I woke up the next morning groggy and definitely still hungover. True, it wasn't as bad of a hangover as some I've had, but it wasn't a bright and cheery morning, that's for sure. My confidence in the product was dwindling.

Still, between Bytox and Blowfish, I'm likely to go for a preventative measure as opposed to one that helps the problem after it starts. I still think the claims are somewhat exaggerated and that the best way to cure a hangover is to stay completely hydrated while drinking. But we all know that's easier said than done. Let's face it. When New Year's Eve comes around, I'm going to slap on a patch. Better to be safe than sorry.

For more dining news, head to Fork in the Road, or follow us @ForkintheRoadVV, or me @ldshockey.

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