4 Simple Hangover Cures That Actually Work, According to Science
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It’s times like these we could all use a drink (or six), so ease the morning-after headache and nausea with these 4 hangover cures from Hornet.
A hangover is caused by multiple factors: Alcohol dehydrates you, metabolizes into acetaldehyde (a chemical that’s toxic to brain cells) and adenosine (which constricts blood vessels in the brain, causing headaches). Booze also causes low blood sugar, a loss of electrolytes and poor-quality sleep, making you all feel worse the morning after, according to Robert Swift, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.
We’ve all heard kooky hangover cures (a raw egg in orange juice, anyone?), but they don’t always work and some are actually bad for you. For example, a greasy meal before bed can help slow the body’s rate of alcohol absorption, but eating greasy food before bed also is generally bad for your health since your body absorbs all of the fat and calories during sleep.
Many folks also suggest “hair of the dog that bit you,” an expression that means drinking alcohol to cure a hangover. While that temporarily alleviates some hangover symptoms by raising your blood alcohol level and making you calmer, it’ll still dry you out and toxify your brain and liver, all of which caused the hangover in the first place, according to Aaron Michelfelder, M.D., professor of family medicine at the Loyola University Medical Center.
So we’ve researched a few hangover cures that actually work, in case you end up hungover this weekend (or worse, on Monday morning).
Here are 4 must-try hangover cures:
You can help prevent a bad hangover before you begin by drinking a large glass of water in between each cocktail — it’ll also keep you from getting too drunk too fast, making your buzz last all evening rather than ending up passed out or kneeling to the porcelain god.
Hydration is important the morning after, but if you’re hungover, don’t gulp down lots of it — it can stretch out your already irritated stomach, possibly making you vomit. Instead, try for eight ounces every hour so that your body has time to absorb it.
The increased hydration will help muscle functions and blood flow, which will get your brain and muscles working better.
While taking two Tylenol before bed can help you reduce brain and liver inflammation and possibly avoid a hangover, its key ingredient acetaminophen can also tax your already overburdened liver and upset your stomach.
Instead, take an Ibuprofen. It reduces inflammation without working the liver and is slightly more powerful and longer-lasting than acetaminophen. But make sure to take it with food or else it can still upset your stomach.
3. Multivitamins and electrolytes
Alcohol is a diuretic, making you sweat and urinate more often than usual, said Dr. David Greuner of NYC Surgical Associates. As a result, your body excretes important vitamins and nutrients which can leave muscles feeling sore and the brain feeling incapable.
Adam Friedman, M.D. suggests taking a multivitamin with a big glass of water with a powder like Emergen-C. Both will help replenish the vitamins you’ve lost and the “powder’s modest sodium and potassium content will help your body absorb more of the water you swallow.”
Vitamins won’t cure a hangover on their own, but they’ll help your body and brain start functioning normally. A Gatorade or a Pedialyte isn’t a bad idea either as they can help restore sodium and other electrolytes helping the body feel less achey.
4. Bread, oatmeal and eggs
Good breakfast choices are key the morning after. When you drink, your blood sugar can dip because your liver, which usually regulates your blood sugar, is busy metabolizing your alcohol instead. The resulting low blood sugar can make you feel moody and drained of energy.
A drink of coffee can increase your alertness and ease the dilated vessels in your brain, according to Frederick Freitag, D.O., medical director of the Comprehensive Headache Center for Baylor Health Care System in Dallas. However, coffee is also a diuretic (like alcohol) and can actually dry you out, irritate your stomach and accelerate your bad feelings, so if you drink some, keep it to a single cup and sip slowly.
Some people suggest eating a big greasy breakfast the morning after which can temporarily elevate your mood but leave you feeling gross or sluggish soon after. Instead, Dr. Michelfelder suggests eating a few crackers or toast to help restore your blood sugar. The blandness will also go easy on your stomach if you’re feeling queasy.
Previous studies have also shown that oatmeal can help ease your stomach. It’s a slowly digestible carbohydrate (unlike sugary donuts, say), which can calm the stomach and provide gradual energy rather than a quick boost and crash.
You can also mix in peanut butter for protein, but eggs are actually better because their yolk contains the amino acid cysteine which can help your liver recover. Yogurt and poultry are both good sources of cysteine, too.