While listening to a popular local radio show this morning, it came up in discussion that Midol was a hangover cure to end all hangover cures. Midol, the over-the-counter medicine for women’s menstrual cramps, has suddenly become an Internet phenomenon as the wonder-cure for hangovers. But does it actually work? You could argue “a little of Column A and a little of Column B,” but really, the whole Midol hangover thing is just crap.
Let me explain.
What’s in a Midol Pill?
Ya gotta start at the beginning. Before we can know whether or not Midol is an effective anything, we first need to understand what it’s made of. This is pretty straight forward. Midol is a combination of acetaminophen, caffeine and something called pyrilamine maleate.
Acetaminophen is commonly known as Tylenol – ed note: thanks for the correct, Tom from the comments! – . It’s uses are pretty straight forward as well. As is it’s history as a hangover “cure.” So, we won’t bother going into too much detail on this one.
Caffeine is the active ingredient in the miracle drug I like to call coffee. It’s affects are very well known – and cherished – as well. No point in getting too deep on that one.
Pyrilamine maleate is a bit of cypher, in that a quick search of the Internet reveals only articles about Midol when you search for this particular mystery ingredient. Midol seems to be it’s one use, but it is an antihistamine, a diuretic and arguably another form of pain suppressant.
In short, Midol is basically two aspirin and a cup of coffee. If that sounds more or less exactly the same as your normal ritual the morning after a bender, that’s because it is. No mystery cure, no miracles. The Midol hangover thing is just Internet bullshit.
The Midol Hangover Cure: From Bad to Worse
If the application of Midol isn’t a cure, that’s not to say it won’t have an affect. No, indeed. Because both caffeine and pyrilamine maleate will dehydrate your system. Caffeine is also what is known as a vasodilator, meaning it constricts blood vessels. Very little is understood about the complex phenomena associated with the dreaded “hangover.” But unquestionably, hangovers are always associated with dehydration.
It is the dehydration that causes things like nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, dizziness, confusion and heart palpitations. So, if you’re looking for a cure for a hangover that might actually make all of those things way worse, I say “go for it.”
Otherwise, an actual cup of coffee and a few aspirin work just as well and won’t lead to new or worsening symptoms. You can sip your coffee nice and slow, rather than be at the mercy of a large dose of caffeine in pill form. Since dehydration is such a key component to a hangover, you’ll probably want to get a good drink of water before you go to sleep, too. That is: if you’re not too drunk to make it to a sink or operate a cup safely.
Ultimately, I think this “Midol hangover cure” is just another symptom of a kind of sideways Internet sexism / male insecurity: a medicine normally associated with the most womanly of womanly functions – verboten for male consumption as a clear violation of Dude Rules – becomes the everyday cure for the most masculine thing most frat boys can think of: rampant alcoholism and binge drinking.