Can’t handle your hangover? Science is working on it. People in lab coats have been busy boiling their beakers and peering into microscopes in search of the elusive cure. Would-be saviors are almost as plentiful as brands of alcohol.
In fact, there are dozens of alcohol remedies on the market. Unfortunately, their effectiveness is seriously in doubt. A 2005 British study concluded there’s no compelling evidence that any hangover cure works. But that’s obvious. If there were a reliable hangover cure, you’d know about it.
That said, some are known to counteract certain hangover symptoms. Plus, there’s often the Tinkerbell Effect at play: If you believe hard enough in a cure, perhaps it will come to life.
(But, please, don’t clap. We had a rough night and can’t take the racket.)
How Does It Work? Makers of RU 21 claim their hangover preventer was invented by KGB agents and blocks acetaldehyde, a toxic chemical that results when the liver metabolizes alcohol.
Does It Really Work? Probably not. While some research indicates acetaldehyde may contribute to hangover pain, it’s probably is the least of a hung over person’s problems. You’re dehydrated and your liver is shot.
Should You Try It? Sure. The Cold War connection is worth a giggle. It’s worth a shot.
How Does It Work? The brine’s salt and nutrients counteract the body’s loss of water and vitamins, while the sourness smacks you back to life.
Does It Really Work? Maybe. Medical researchers and NFL trainers have begun using the briny liquid to ward off dehydration-related cramping. It could help your body exploit the small reserve of water it has left.
Should You Try It? Hell yeah. It tastes like an ancient sea-faring ritual, and there’s probably a jar in your fridge right now. And with fans including Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, it’s the most metal hangover cure going.
How Does It Work? The key ingredient in Drinkin’ Mate Hangover Defense Tabs targets the free radicals releases by booze.
Does It Actually Work? Maybe a little bit. The liver releases free radicals when flooded with alcohol, but that’s only one among many negative impacts on the liver. Users say it doesn’t prevent hangovers, but tamps down the severity.
Should You Try It? Sure, but keep your expectations low. Drinkin’ Mate is cheap and common, like your sister after a couple of drinks.
How Does It Work? Drug forums are full of self-medicaters reporting that Benzodiazepines can take the sharp edge off of hangovers.
Does It Actually Work? It won’t do anything directly to help your throbbing head or dehydration, but small doses can make the inside of your head feel more air-conditioned.
Should You Try It? Yes, if you’re able to spend the day in bed. Xanax will knock you out, or at least make you a little dopey. And don’t take it on an empty or upset stomach — which may be impossible, considering your situation.
How Does It Work? Taurine, the chief ingredient in Red Bull that isn’t caffeine or sugar, could help to minimize liver damage and ward off a hangover.
Does It Actually Work? Maybe, but the help might be negligible. Taurine may counteract the fat build up in the liver brought on by drinking, which is better news for preventing liver disease than hangovers.
Should You Try It? No. Red Bull and other energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, a diuretic that further dehydrates your system already dried out by alcohol.
How Does It Work? Milk Thistle, or St. Mary’s Thistle, is an active ingredient in hangover cures like Prefunc and Sprayology. Proponents say it repairs liver damage brought on by drinking.
Does It Actually Work? The jury is out. Milk Thistle has been used to treat liver maladies for centuries, but there’s no strong conclusive evidence it works. At best, it might help your liver’s long-term health, not your morning.
Should You Try It? No. The name itself is annoying; it sounds like an oatmeal cookie ingredient invented by Quakers. And, anyway, some users say it makes them pee, which will further dehydrate you.
How Does It Work? Essentially, this is a sports drink with twice the electrolytes. Miley Cyrus and Pharrell guzzle it by the gallon.
Does It Actually Work? It’s an effective electrolyte delivery system, for sure. Pedialyte, once reserved for feverish and diarrhea-stricken children, is now marketed as a hangover cure. It’s an acquired taste, but it’s the only item on this list recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Should You Try It? No. You are an adult. This drink is for babies. If you really want your electrolytes back, drink Gatorade or coconut water for the same effect.
Mega-Vitamins & Anti-Oxidants
How Does It Work? Hangover cures like the Bytox Patch claim to replace the nutrients and vitamins washed away by a night of drinking.
Does It Actually Work? Not in any meaningful way. After drinking, your body does lack vitamins, but the real pain comes from dehydration. Some research indicates Vitamin B supplements may help, but medical professionals caution against putting too much faith in them.
Should You Try It? It depends on the state of your stomach. Fizzy vitamin powder drinks like Emergen-c can be acidic; if your gut is feeling fragile, this can create a real emergency.
How Does It Work? Smug science types treat their hangovers with burnt toast, believing it contains activated carbon, which medical professionals use to treat poison.
Does It Actually Work? Nope. Burnt toast doesn’t actually contain activated carbon; even if it did, it wouldn’t work. Carbon works in the stomach; alcohol would have traveled to the bloodstream hours before the blackened bread touched your lips.
Should You Try It? If you like the taste, go for it. Just don’t expect miracles.
How Does It Work? This revolting pickled herring dish is the centerpiece of the traditional German hangover breakfast Katerfrühstück. Germans invented Oktoberfest and Jagermeister, so you should pay attention.
Does It Actually Work? If you’re German, yes. The salted fish is rich in electrolytes and protein and will get you back to designing BMWs and wearing lederhosen in no time.
Should You Try It? Non-Germans should steer clear. Like German hip-hop, outsiders might find Rollmops difficult to stomach.
How Does It Work? Kick your body into gear, sweat away the bad stuff.
Does It Actually Work? The results are mixed. Thanks to the booze, you’ve already pissed away an uncomfortable amount of fluid. With exercise, you sweat out more. Medical experts say you will feel a little better from the endorphin rush, but worse overall.
Should You Try It? If you hate yourself after drinking, punishing your body in the name of fitness may make you feel better. Otherwise, you’re better off in bed than on the elliptical.
Hair of the Dog
How Does It Work? You reach peak hangover pain 12 hours after drinking, when your blood alcohol count drops to zero. You can keep the needle comfortably over zero with a few Bloody Marys.
Does It Actually Work? Maybe. Journalist Adam Rogers argues that hangovers are caused by booze-related methanol toxicity, not dehydration. A follow-up drink can displace the methanol.
Should You Try It? Sure. Bloody Marys are delicious.