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German Court Makes Ruling That Being Hungover Is a Legitimate Illness

Plaintiffs in the case said a company that sold anti-hangover products made illegal claims about their abilities to resolve morning-after misery.

by Jelisa Castrodale
25 September 2019, 9:00am

Photo: Getty Images

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

The 186th Oktoberfest kicked off at noon on Saturday when the excellently named Dieter Reiter, the Lord Mayor of Munich, tapped the festival's first barrel of beer. The organizers of the Oide Wiesn, as it's known locally, estimate that "as usual," attendees will down more than 6 million liters of beer during the two-week event.

Perhaps anticipating what can happen when high-ABV beers are served by the liter, the organizers posted a YouTube video covering the Dos and Don'ts of drinking during the festival. (The organizers also covered how to clean a pair of lederhosen.)

For more than two minutes, Manfred Newrzella, the CEO of the Munich Brewery Club, talks about how some of the glass-clinking rituals originated, explains how to hold that oversized mug and reminds everyone that Oktoberfest "is a folk festival, it's not about binge drinking." He says that it's stupid to down the entire mug in one sloppy gulp, and points out that it's "unhygienic" to drink out of your own shoes, which makes us think that no one listened to that "it's not about binge drinking" part.

But there's good news for anyone who does reach the "I'ma pour this into my shoe" stage of drunkenness, because a German court ruled on Monday that hangovers are an illness.

According to DW, the unidentified plaintiffs in the case claimed that a company that sold anti-hangover shots and drink powders had made illegal health claims about their abilities to lessen the feeling of "EVERYTHING HURTS, JUST LET ME DIE" that follows a night out. The judges who heard the argument in a Frankfurt court ruled that a "food product cannot ascribe any properties for preventing, treating or healing a human illness, or give the impression of such a property."

The judges then went on to define a human illness as "even small or temporary disruptions to the normal state or normal activity of the body," and said that those "disruptions" included the common symptoms—headache, nausea, fatigue—of the average hangover. (The company in question said that its products could help with all of those symptoms.)

So, there's a slightly unethical but legitimate justification for calling in sick on Monday morning. If saying that you have an illness seems too disingenuous, you could say that you've got veisalgia, which The Guardian says is a legit medical term for a hangover. Or you could always just tell your boss that you've got to clean your lederhosen. Nobody wants to hear the details about that.