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September 25, 2019

Hungover? According to this German court, you're technically ill.

Daily Briefing

    A German court on Monday ruled that being hungover should be considered an illness, at least when it comes to marketing regulations, dealing a blow to an unnamed company that was marketing its products as hangover cures.

    Details on the ruling

    The company was taken to court in Frankfurt for claiming that its anti-hangover drink powders and "shots" could cure symptoms people experience after drinking drunk too much alcohol, The Guardian reports. An unnamed consumer watchdog brought the case against the company, accusing it of making illegal health claims.

    Ultimately, the court agreed with the watchdog. The court in its ruling defined an illness as "even small or temporary disruptions to the normal state or normal activity of the body." According to the ruling, this includes the tiredness, nausea, and headaches that typically come with a hangover.

    The judges noted that doctors even have a specialist medical term for a hangover: "veisalgia."

    As such, the court said that food and drink products could not be marketed as cures for hangover-related symptoms. "Information about a food product cannot ascribe any properties for preventing, treating or healing a human illness, or give the impression of such a property," the ruling said.

    The ruling aligns with at least one study led by German researchers that defined a hangover as a complex of "unpleasant physical and mental symptoms" that occur when elevated blood alcohol concentrations return to zero." The study, which was published in February in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, noted that there are no known "effective medical remedies" for the condition.

    The study concluded that hangovers are "a protective warning sign" about the potential harm of alcohol consumption "that will certainly have aided humans over the ages to modify future behavior, and hence pass on this evolutionary advantage to next generations" (BBC News, 9/23; Ives, New York Times, 9/24; Deutsche Welle, 9/23; The Guardian, 9/23; New York Times/Irish Times, 9/24).

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