So does the new ‘miracle’ anti-hangover pill actually work?
Where better to try the magical Myrkl supplement than on a big night out at London’s Shoreditch House, thought our intrepid wellness editor Tilly Pearman
Friday 5 August 2022 By Tilly Pearman
It should come as no surprise then – given that us Brits spend almost a year of our lives being hungover – that Myrkl completely sold out before its official UK launch. Pre-orders for its next release on 22 August are already underway, but can a 100% natural (and vegan) pill really banish the beer fear, eliminate ‘hangxiety’, and even evade the regrettable consequences that come with one too many drinks?
As a wellness editor, I felt it was my duty to find out. Gamely putting on my new editorial hat of ‘intrepid booze hound’, I headed to Shoreditch House in east London, armed with a packet of pills and every writer’s dream brief: to get intoxicated, all in the name of investigative journalism.
I should point out that this was by no means a fair trial. For starters, I foolishly took a hot yoga class to cleanse my body before the incoming onslaught; but in doing so I lost precious water that I would later forget to replace. A shameful error, quickly followed by my next: a failure to read the instructions, which suggest taking two pills, two to 12 hours before you commence drinking. I was only an hour or so away from my first drink, so I freestyle and double-dose en route to the bar.
On arrival, I opt for a classic Negroni – the logic (or perhaps illogic) being maximum amount of alcohol, minimal amount of mixer. As I indulge in a growing sense of smugness – I could, I so hopefully surmised, wake up as fresh as a daisy tomorrow – a further three Negronis are consumed on a stomach lined with half a Dirty Burger, a slice of pizza, and a side of TFC fried cauliflower.
At drink number four it’s safe to say that I’ve consumed enough alcohol to warrant a midweight hangover; a dehydrated mouth that would feel like the desert in the morning, a regrettable text to an ex, but memory fully intact and no ‘I’m never drinking again’ statements.
I didn’t even feel that drunk, which may have been the first sign that Myrkl was actually working. The company claims that the pill breaks down ‘up to 70% of alcohol within 60 minutes’. It does this by metabolising alcohol into carbon dioxide and water in the intestinal tract, and thereby limits alcohol absorption into the bloodstream. The trouble is, it also means that the usual signals that happy, tipsy drunkenness are shifting head-first into full-on room-spinning drunk are fatally lost, and therein lay my biggest mistake; I ordered a further two shots of tequila and a Picante.
With around 17 units of alcohol now flowing around my body, I was forced to face the fact that no amount of ‘miracle’ pills could save me. I was on a regrettable one-way ticket to what I know as ‘the vampire hangover’: sunglasses, an oversized hoodie and a packet of Nurofen were all that would soften the impending morning doom.
And doom it was. I woke to a thumping head, mounting queasiness, and dry, cracked lips that I could barely part. I was 100% hungover, but it would be unfair of me to label Myrkl as a complete failure. Firstly, I deviated from their suggested conditions of ‘moderate drinking’, and as the company’s CEO Håkan Magnusson notes, Myrkl ‘is in no way designed as an excuse to drink beyond the NHS guidelines’. In fact, the supplement’s purpose is to ‘help those regular, moderate drinkers to wake up feeling their best the next day’, says Magnusson.
Of course, Myrkl is just the latest in a growing market of hangover prevention and remedy cures that sadly all come with very little conclusive evidence.
According to Professor David Nutt, a leading neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London, and the government’s former chief drugs officer, ‘hangover is the least researched health impairment, costing the UK economy £10bn a year’. Yet despite high costs, research remains in its infancy, not least because of the subjectivity of biomarkers, which make hangovers notoriously difficult to measure and define.
Even the Myrkl-funded study excluded 10 out of the 24 participants, because the amount of alcohol ingested for the trial ‘did not lead to measurable relevant alcohol consideration in the blood’.
But should we really be trying to avoid the very thing that provides one of the strongest deterrents to actually curb excessive drinking – the hangover itself? As much as my relentless optimism wanted to find a cure in Myrkl, it’s not a free pass to drink as much as you like. And it can, in fact, lead to an overconsumption of alcohol by preventing you from getting as drunk as you normally might.
This certainly helps to explain why I find myself in this actual pit of hell, expelling the contents of the previous night into a woeful toilet basin that even contains one sad and disappointingly failed Myrkl pill. From now on – or until the next wonder pill finds its way to my desk – I think I’ll stick to the only clear preventative: drinking (a lot) less.