'Fun tonight, fine tomorrow': Hangover cure created in Manitoba

All of those ghouls and goblins heading to Halloween parties this weekend might want to perk up their pointy ears. A Manitoba company claims it has developed a cure for those monster headaches that follow a night of indulgence.
A Manitoba company, whose slogan is 'Fun tonight, fine tomorrow,' claims it has created an all-natural cure for those monster headaches that follow a night of indulgence. (Vetta/Getty Images)

All of those ghouls and goblins heading to Halloween parties this weekend might want to perk up their pointy ears.

A Manitoba company, whose slogan is "Fun tonight, fine tomorrow," claims it has created an all-natural cure for those monster headaches that follow a night of indulgence.

Clear Head is made from an extract of natural milk thistle rather than relying on caffeine or aspirin, like other remedies.

The active compound in the extract is silymarin, which has been used for more than 2,000 years to treat a range of liver diseases, according to ALLNatural Nutritional Products (ANNP), which developed the product at the University of Manitoba's Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals.

"There's a lot of skeptics out there that this is just another product that doesn't necessarily live up to its claims. They think it's [a hangover] just supposed to hurt and there's nothing you can do about it," said Ray Takacs, the owner of T.H.E. Food Source, which distributes Clear Head.

Scientifically speaking, a hangover is caused by an accumulation of acetate in the body. Acetate activates brain receptors, causing anxiety pain (hangover pain), according to ANNP. Clear Head also works the action of those receptors.

It also helps the liver clear the toxins "while it's being given a hard time by the consumption of alcohol," Takacs said, adding that many people will treat a hangover by popping some Tylenol "but that just puts more stress on your liver so you've just added to the problem."

Clear Head is made from an extract of natural milk thistle rather than relying on caffeine or aspirin, like other remedies. (clear-head.com)

"I've probably seen about 20 or 30 different hangover remedies that are available on the marketplace in North America. This is the only one I've ever seen that has Health Canada approval behind it," he added.

The key to making Clear Head work, however, is pre-planning. Each packet comes with four capsules and you'll need to take two before consuming alcohol and then one more at the end of the evening. The fourth is a spare, in case you need it the next morning.

If you only think of it after imbibing for a while, "it's already too late, you've gone too far," said Takacs.

"If you're face down on the barroom floor, it's not going to help you at that point. You're going to hurt."

Just like people have embraced planning for a designated driver, this is another thing to consider ahead of time, he said.

Clear Head has been around since 2005 but its availability was very limited because its creators, Ron Marquardt and Suzhen Li are scientists not marketing people, Takacs said.

If you're face down on the barroom floor, it's not going to help you at that point. You're going to hurt.- Ray Takacs

So he stepped in about two years ago and got the product into health food stores and a handful of other places in the city and some rural locations. The province was also approached to carry it in the liquor stores "but we were given a very kind 'thanks but no thanks,'" Takacs said.

"The liquor commission looks at this product as possibly promoting over-indulgence and of course, their mandate is responsible drinking."

Takacs doesn't see Clear Head as being permission to get hammered. He says it's something designed to make people who are going to have a few drinks anyway, feel better and function better.

"The best use of this product, and I'm speaking from a personal point of view, is when you have the three or four beers and you know the next day you're going to wake up with a bit of a haze. This is something that can really help get that alcohol out of your system and eliminate that sluggishness," he said, noting this is the time of year for Halloween parties, Christmas parties and seasonal socializing.

Clear Head's marketing strategy takes particular aim at those who need to function on the job the next day.

"The greatest cost incurred by alcohol is the decreased productivity of hangover-affected employees, hangover-related absenteeism, and reduced workplace safety," a pamphlet from ANNP states.

"The most prominent side effects of alcohol-induced hangovers include drowsiness, fatigue, sleepiness and weakness. The second most common factors are cognitive problems, including reduced alertness, memory and concentration problems."

"This time of the year, there's a lot of sports bars out there that have people in there enjoying a Jets game on TV and they have to go to work the next morning, Takacs said. "This is where [Clear Head] comes into play."