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AS THE HOLIDAY season continues, millions of people will need relief from the curse of office party excess.

Our Texas friends recommend mixing generous quantities of chopped raw onions, a heaping helping of extra-spicy hot chili, and a shot of tequila for the morning after.

South of the border, they tell us that tripe soup is the ticket. Down in the West Indies, they go for mandram.

You may not find these culinary cures tasty, but they are time-honored solutions to an eternal problem. Despite thousands of years of home-grown research, there is no sure-fire remedy for a hangover.

Scientists have looked into the breakdown products of alcohol metabolism for an explanation of hangover symptoms. So far, they have not been able to identify the culprit.

If researchers could actually identify the major cause, it is conceivable that they could develop a true cure.

Aspirin turns out to be worse than nothing. New research shows that aspirin blocks a stomach enzyme responsible for alcohol metabolism. The result is higher blood levels for longer periods of time.

Fructose, in the form of fruit juice, has been touted as a possible solution. Although some research has shown that when fructose is injected it can lower blood alcohol levels, oral administration is much less effective.

Prescribed medications such as beta blockers (Inderal or propranolol) do not offer any proven advantages over home remedies.

Vitamin B complex is a popular approach among pharmacy students, though we haven't seen any study results to support their enthusiasm.

Our best recommendation is to apply the proverbial ounce of prevention. Here are some tips to hold off a hangover.

Always eat before drinking -- the fattier the food, the better to slow alcohol absorption.

Drink slowly. Allow about half an hour between drinks to prevent intoxication.

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