- One too many alcoholic drinks can cause a next-day hangover with symptoms like headache, nausea, and anxiety.
- The most reliable cure for a hangover is time, since your body needs to process all the ethanol, or the type of alcohol people consume, you’ve subjected it to.
- Many products and activities claim to cure your hangover quickly. Here’s what science says they can and can’t do to make your recovery a little easier.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
If you’re among the 56% of Americans adults who have indulged in an alcoholic beverage in the past month, you may have also encountered its unfortunate counterpoint – the dreaded hangover.
Waking up with a dry mouth, a pounding head, and a heaving stomach are indications that your body is expelling all the beer, wine, or liquor you so enthusiastically consumed the night before.
But aside from learning your lesson and drinking in moderation next time, or laying off booze completely, how do you handle the misery right now?
Unfortunately, nothing other than time is going to “cure” your hangover completely. In fact, research investigating 15 kinds of hangover solutions – including medications, herbal supplements, and home remedies – found that none of them worked.
Plus, effectively treating a hangover would involve fully understanding why they occur, something doctors and researchers still don’t completely understand since the experiences seem to be caused by a complex combination of factors that vary widely from person to person.
There are, however, some steps you can take to make your hangover less miserable once it’s too late to prevent it, including eating and drinking things that support your body’s efforts to purge last night’s mistakes.
“Hair of the dog” may help in the short-term, but you’re only postponing the inevitable.
Arguably the most classic hangover cure, the “hair of the dog” means indulging in more of the same thing that got you into your current sorry state.
Alcohol is an effective pain reliever and the buzz you get from it generally distracts from whatever is bothering you, which is why many people enjoy it in the first place.
But having a morning-after drink will force your body to metabolize the additional alcohol instead of breaking down the alcohol by-products already in your system. Ultimately, it just means it will take longer for you to completely recover.
An herbal extract called DHM is a traditional cure in China, Japan, and Korea.
Dihydromyricetin, also known as DHM, is a compound extracted from the Japanese raisin treethat has long been used in traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean medicine.
It’s since been adapted into a number of hangover products marketed online like Flyby, Cheers, Morning Recovery, and DHM Detox.
Although the substance hasn’t been definitively proven as a cure, there’s promising research on rats to support the substance’s benefits for counteracting some consequences of drinking, including anxiety.
Cysteine, an amino acid found in eggs, dairy, meat, and oats, can help process a byproduct of alcohol.
Part of the pain of a hangover is caused by acetaldehyde, a byproduct produced as the body metabolizes ethanol, or the type of alcohol people drink.
Although acetaldehyde will disperse over time, too much of it can cause nausea, headaches, and that uncomfortable feeling of your heart beating so rapidly it feels as if it’s trying to escape your body.
Luckily, an amino acid called cysteine can help support your liver in breaking down the noxious substance faster. It’s found in high-protein foods like eggs, pork, poultry, and dairy. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can get your cysteine fix in red peppers, garlic, onions, and oats.
Research is mixed on whether B vitamins (including in an IV) can help.
Alcohol both leaches vitamins from your body and inhabits your ability to absorb them, which is part of why drinking too much feels awful.
But it’s unclear whether taking vitamins after a big night can make you feel better in the short term. One study claimed to show a B vitamin supplement could reduce hangover side effects, but it was funded by a company that makes a supplement product.
It’s also plausible that vitamins delivered directly to your bloodstream via IV could improve hangover symptoms, but it comes at a price: such IV services can cost about $US150 or more.
Plus, since B vitamins are water-soluble, overloading the body with them doesn’t mean you’ll get more relief. It just means you’ll eliminate the excess through the urinary system.
Drinking water won’t cure your hangover, but getting plenty the night before can help.
Many people attribute the terrible feelings of a hangover to dehydration. That’s true because alcohol is a diuretic and makes you lose fluid more quickly.
But hangovers are more than dehydration, since the nasty side effects are also due to by-products of alcohol like acetaldehyde, lack of sleep, nutrient deficiencies, and other issues.
So just chugging as much water as you can isn’t going to solve the problem right away, although it will help.
Where water has the best hangover-fighting potential, though, is while you’re still drinking – alternating between alcoholic drinks and glasses of water not only makes sure you stay hydrated all night, but can also help you to drink in moderation, since you’ll go through rounds more slowly.
Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium can stave off headaches, fatigue, and muscle pain.
Another classic hangover helper is Gatorade, Pedialyte, or similar formulations of electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorous.
These essential nutrients are depleted when you drink and make your dehydration worse, intensifying your hangover.
While supplements can help you replenish the electrolytes, and drinking any water-based liquid will help with the hangover, you can get all the electrolytes and hydration you need through regular food and water, according to a nutritionist.
For example, ramen is a popular choice because it has a lot of sodium, one of the electrolytes you’re missing, as well as B vitamins from the bone broth. The liquids will also help rehydrate you.
As a bonus, the spiciness can help boost your endorphins to help you feel better about any poor decisions made at the bar.
If you’re too nauseous to eat much, though, sports drinks and other fluids may help give you a boost in your recovery. Coconut water is a good bet too because natural varieties are low in sugar but high in all five essential electrolytes you need to feel better.
Exercise can help, but overdoing it can be dangerous.
Although it may be the last thing you want to hear while you’re laying in bed nursing an aching head, exercise might be one way to make your recovery process a little easier.
Getting up and moving can help your body produce pain-killing endorphins to smooth your path into a hangover-free state. Physical activity can also occupy your mind as you’re waiting for the symptoms to lift.
Keep in mind, however, that strenuous exercise can cause further dehydration, making the problem worse. And, if you’re already ill and dehydrated, it can make you more likely to injure yourself, according to experts, so it might be best to stick to walking, yoga, and other light exercise.
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