One of the greatest drugs ever discovered, right up there with the contraceptive pill, AZT, penicillin, and the stuff from the rosy periwinkle. It actually cures -- okay, it significantly palliates -- hangovers.

Also known as Mersyndol, it is a painkiller that contains

  • paracetamol: presumably to hold the pill together, since it serves no function when you've got a mother of a hangover.
  • codeine: this is the good bit that goes up into your brain and kicks the substance P receptors in their most intimate synapses until they stop working and curl up into a little whimpering ball.
  • doxylamine succinate: a calmative, which really gives it the edge over other codeine pills: this bathes the injured synapses in a golden haze of forgetfulness, a blissful lethean slumber.
  • caffeine: huh, that's new, that wasn't there last time I looked at a packet. Oh well, caffeine's always good at time of need.
I classify my hangovers as one-pill, two-pill, three-pill, and legally dead. One pill for slightly overdoing it, distinct pain in skull following morning, tempted to ignore it as self-punishment, but making it go away entirely would make life easier and happier. Two pills for too much, they'll make you woozy, but at least you can perform most of your normal functions if you close down the worst affected regions of your brain. As with all such drugs, never ever take more than two at a time.

Three pills for the elven kings... no, wait, three pills when the two-pill monster you thought you'd killed has an angry mother waiting for it at the bottom of the mere, and she comes to get you three hours later. Hair of the dog remedies of concentrated alcohol (brandy and Jameson's are both good) may also be applied at this point -- after noon, after the sun's gone over the yardarm, of course. Have some respect for your body.

Warning. In the early stages when I took these for massive overindulgence -- when I was younger and could take the abuse without staring mortality in her wrinkled face -- a Syndol in the morning could lead me to a very sudden, startling, urgent visit to the porcelain god. I no longer have this reaction. Either I've acquired tolerance or I don't do so many stupid things at night.

They're also excellent for period pain: the girlfriend who let me know about them, bless her, has given me so much in our years of sharing and friendship, but this pill is still one of her greatest gifts to me.

Also excellent for toothache. Oh I had a wonderful toothache once, wahey! Such fun! Bathed in a warm glow of... well, I had had nine in twenty-four hours, which is too many. The maximum is eight. This contains paracetamol, so overdosing leads to extremely painful, drawn-out, unrescuable death.

The manufacturer seems to change every time I buy a (bumper, king-size) box. Merrell Dow became Marion Merrell Dow, then Hoechst Marion Roussel, perhaps someone before that, and now they're made under licence in the UK by Seton Healthcare Group. The drug is called Syndol in Britain and Mersyndol in Australia; I know not what elsewhere.