Daily Dose

Would you try a caffeine skin spray or a beer that prevents hangovers?

 EPA/ARNE DEDERT
EPA/ARNE DEDERT

Judging by some wacky new products making headlines this week, inventors are getting a bit desperate to come up with an instant wealth-producing blockbuster. Building on the energy supplement craze, a Harvard undergrad developed a caffeine spray that’s applied to the skin—not to be confused with the Harvard professor who invented a caffeine spray that’s squirted into the mouth.

Head halfway around the world and down under, and you can be part of a clinical trial to test a new beer that purportedly prevents hangovers by helping the body stay better hydrated.

Here are more details on both:

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1. Sprayable Energy: Harvard undergrad Ben Yu took a semester off two years ago to develop a topical caffeine spray that’s supposed to deliver caffeine through your skin pores delivering a more steady dose of caffeine than the jolt from downing a cup of coffee or energy shot. Four sprays contain less caffeine than one cup of brewed coffee.

Yu told Business Week that his selling point is to make caffeine easier to tolerate for those who get too jittery from coffee and energy drinks. It’s delivered in small amounts and is absorbed gradually through the skin rather than in one fell swoop through the digestive tract. His father, a chemist, helped develop it.

Does it really work? Those who have tried it haven’t had any serious reactions, but whether they actually get enough caffeine to give them more energy remains speculative at best. There’s also the possibility of an overdose if it gets into the hands of the wrong person, like a reckless teen who just keeps on spraying.

2. Beer without the hangover: It sounds great right—a six pack with no headache the next day? Australian researchers are testing a hangover-free beer, adding electrolytes to brewskis while attempting not to alter the taste. The nutrients, like potassium and sodium, help the body retain water. Since dehydration is thought to be the cause of those next day headaches, grogginess, and other hangover symptoms, the new formulation should work to prevent such symptoms.

In a recent study, nutrition professor Ben Desbrow tested one light beer and one regular beer after adding electrolytes to the two beverages. He gave the two beers to volunteers—as well as a light beer and regular beer without any electrolytes—right after they had a sweaty exercise session and then tested their level of dehydration. He found that those who drank the light beer with the added electrolytes were most rehydrated after their workouts followed by those who drank the regular beer with the electrolytes.

Were they any less likely to have a headache the next day than those who drank the standard versions? The study, unfortunately, didn’t measure that. Stay tuned for more research before you see any “beer without the hangover” bottles at your local bar.

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