Forget the “Prairie Oyster” Hangover Cure. Try the Real Oyster Instead.
You’ve seen them in movies, novels, and your neighborhood pub. Perhaps you’ve held your nose and slung one back, hands shaking from your “Sunday Scaries”. The Prairie Oyster (and I’m not talking Rocky Mountain bull testicles) is a crude concoction of raw egg, dollops of Worcestershire and Tabasco, with a pinch or two of salt and pepper.
It sounds revolting, but the Prairie Oyster has made its mark on society as one of pop culture’s greatest hangover cures. James Bond confessed they were his daily supplement in Thunderball, and the Prairie Oyster was Dr. Emmett Brown’s “wake-up juice” in Back to the Future Part III after a strong shot of whiskey. The raw egg reference was also revived as the hangover cure on the latest Bridgerton series. Sure enough, the infamous, dry cocktail has made its mark.
Rumor has it that the Prairie Oyster went public in 1903 in a British “Housewife and Cuisine” column in the Queen’s Newspaper. Coincidentally, the author, S. Beaty-Pownhall, referenced its discovery back to a plainsman in America’s Wild West. I can’t imagine how many hangovers it took to carry the rumor that far, but it does sound like it came from home, home on the range (and hopefully free-range).
Does the Prairie Oyster have any real hangover merit? Well, maybe. Researchers have found that the amino acid, L-cysteine, which is found in eggs, is effective in reducing hangover symptoms due to its ability to drive out toxins from booze and tobacco smoke. But is one Prairie Oyster enough to be effective? Probably not. The research determined that you’d need about 1,200 mg of L-cysteine to make a difference and according to Nutriteam.com, one egg carries about 250 mg.
As a passionate Ostreophile (a word describing the oyster-obsessed), I can’t wrap my head around why the Prairie Oyster gets all the glory when the oyster on its own – the real deal – is more beneficial in fighting off Friday’s bender. I can understand that the Midwest may have invented a landlocked alternative to oysters due to their scarcity. Americans ate a lot of oysters back then but shipping them inland was probably risky, and a chicken’s egg would have been a safer bet at the time. But over a hundred years later, there’s no excuse. Seafood travels overnight to our front doors, raw bars, and grocery stores.
I did some digging to prove that when it comes to a hangover, oysters reign supreme over their copycat. Here are 5 reasons why you should stick to the original.
1. Oysters Give Your Immune System a Better Boost.
Zinc is a trace mineral that repairs your immune system, boosts your metabolism, supports organ function, and so much more. Get into a bar fight last night? No problem – Zinc heals damaged tissue. Can’t smell after too many drinks? All good – Zinc supports your sense of smell and taste.
It’s commonly known that oysters are a natural aphrodisiac. We can also attribute this to Zinc, which supports testosterone production and is said to boost fertility. We’re just saying, hangovers with your significant other could be a lot more fun.
One oyster offers 50% of Zinc’s RDI (Recommended Dietary Intake), while one large egg contains just 5% of Zinc’s RDI.
2. They’re a Liver Detox for a lot Less Calories.
As mentioned above, eggs are revered for their high protein content. Amino acids like L-cysteine help detoxify your liver – a critical component in reducing hangover time. Oysters are also a complete protein source, meaning that they carry L-cysteine, too. You’ll need to eat six raw oysters for same amount of protein as one large egg, but the oysters are nearly half the calories, and offer more health-boosting trace minerals.
One study also found that the human body absorbs 80% more protein from cooked eggs over raw ones (90% of protein absorbed in cooked eggs versus 50% absorbed in raw eggs). Although more data are needed, it questions the Prairie Oyster’s efficacy to begin with.
3. Oysters Combat “Hangxiety” More Effectively.
If you’re the type to get anxious after drinking, oysters can help due to their high levels of omega-3’s. According to a self.com article, Aparna Iyer, M.D., a psychiatrist and assistant professors at the University of Texas Southern Medical Center, alcohol interrupts the activity of our neurotransmitters, including serotonin and endorphins, which impact mood and anxiety levels. Results in a review published in 2018 across 19 different studies showed that omega-3 supplements helped reduce anxiety symptoms.
4. You’ll Feel More of that “B” Bounce.
After a big night out, you may feel a little tired and weak. Perhaps you had a jumbo slice pizza at 2AM and you’re moving slowly the next morning. Taking Vitamin B-12 helps convert carbs into glucose, which increases energy production and lessens the feeling of fatigue. B-12 is known for other great benefits like healthy digestion and fighting depression or stress.
5. Oysters Contain a Longer List of Electrolytes.
Zinc is just one of the trace minerals at work in oysters. Oysters are like an all-natural Gatorade. In addition to zinc, they contain calcium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, and magnesium. Minerals help regulate fluids in the body – a much needed engine for all that water you’re guzzling. These minerals have other advantages, too, like iron’s benefits in red blood cell production, and copper’s role in brain development and strong bones.
While eggs do contain great minerals like selenium, phosphorus, and folate, the oyster’s list is longer. And while a pinch of salt may give the Prairie Oyster a little extra Iodine, you can find your Iodine straight from the natural sea, cradled in the shell of an oyster.
What about Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco? Worcestershire Sauce contains Vitamin B-6, which is good for your immune system, and Tabasco’s chili peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which supports weight loss, fights off cancer cells, and may even help regulate insulin levels. However, you’d need much larger servings to reap the benefits, and both toppings are just as delicious on an oyster.
So, Do You Dare?
Here`s the tough question. Do you have the guts to slurp an oyster on a hangover?
If you’re willing to swallow a raw egg – the oyster’s pop culture imitator – why not go for the gold? Their textures are equally slimy, and you could argue that neither are as appetizing as a pile of waffles at brunch. But as Jonathan Smith’s quote goes, “it was a brave man who first ate an oyster,” and we all know that fortune favors the brave.
If you’re still skeptical, then cover your bases and double up. Why pick just one? Oysters, especially creamy ones, are delicious in omelets. I can see your eyes rolling, but don’t knock it ‘til you try it. Throw in some West Coast Kumamoto oysters, chopped red onion, basil, and zucchini for a hangover slam dunk. Fold, flip, and boom-shucka-lucka – your day is looking up. If you’re determined to get a spicy kick, drizzle a mixture of ketchup, sugar, and hot sauce on top. Your sinuses will thank you.
If all else fails, take the Doctor’s advice. Drink lots of water, rest up, and go easy next time.