By Scott Hensley
The Food and Drug Administration sure knows how to spoil a company's good time.
On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, the agency fired off a warning letter to the maker of Drinkin' Mate, a fizzy herbal supplement that its Web site says, "reduces or eliminates the negative effects of alcohol."
What gave the agency a headache? Well, according to the letter which was just released, testimonials like these:
NO HEADACHE - I tried Drinkin' Mate after I had three or four beers and I woke up without a hangover headache. -Brian
IT REALLY WORKS! Wow! Drinkin' Mate really works. I expected a major hangover, but I feel great! -Kati
A friend recommended Drinkin Mate and I tried it before I drank and in between and it was the best of the best. Goodbye hangovers Hello day after.
Those sort of statements and the finding that Drinkin' Mate "is not generally recognized as safe and effective" led the FDA to say Drinkin' Mate is being marketed as an unapproved new drug.
Oh, and one other thing, even if Drinkin' Mate weren't a drug, the agency said it's being marketed improperly as a supplement, too. You can't slap on a "supplement facts" label that says a product has zero calories from fat, for instance.
We called the Amerilab Technologies for comment, but didn't hear back immediately. The president told the Pioneer Press that it woudl take down the testimonials by the end of the week. "We'll be in full compliance," he said. "The Web site itself -- other than the testimonials -- doesn't make any drug claims."
We had more than an academic interest in whether there's anything proven to prevent or cure a hangover. But, unfortunately, a few years back some Dutch researchers looked at the published evidence and concluded:
No compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover. The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is to practise abstinence or moderation.
We also chatted with Brown University's Damaris Rohsenow, a psychology professor who has studied hangovers. She said the research community isn't exactly awash in grants to spur discovery of a hangover cure. "It's hard to justify funding a study to relieve hangover when the heavy drinking that causes hangover is also associated with many other long-term health problems," she said.