The 10 Best Hangover Cures and Natural Remedies

How To Get Over A Hangover: Do Cures Work?

When someone drinks alcohol, the liver takes time to break down the ethanol and process it. Severe hangover symptoms develop when the liver has done its job, and blood alcohol levels fall to zero. As the body readjusts to the lack of alcohol, symptoms such as fatigue, headache, thirst, and noise sensitivity develop. What is the best thing to do for a hangover? How to sober up? Do cures work?

The bad news is there is no way to completely get rid of the symptoms. The good news is that it is possible to reduce the severity of the effects.. What is the best hangover cure? What works best for hangover symptoms such as headache, dry mouth, and light sensitivity? There are some things a person can do that don’t involve taking medications. Read on to find out how to cure a hangover.

10. Avoid certain drinks

Some drinks may cause worse hangovers than others. There is some evidence that alcohol with more congeners, the substance that flavors and colors drinks, leads to more severe hangover symptoms. Bourbon and whiskey, for example, are high in congeners, while vodka has essentially none. 

A 2010 study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research looked at the correlation between high and low congener drinks and severity of hangovers. For the study, researchers examined 95 healthy adults between the ages of 21 and 33 who were not alcohol dependent, as determined by the Short Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test, but who were considered heavy drinkers, meaning they had consumed at least 4 to 5 drinks in a single night in the last 30 days. 

Participants were given either whiskey or vodka mixed with cola one night and a placebo of cola and decarbonated tonic with a few drops of whiskey or vodka on top the other night. Participants rated eight hangover symptoms on a scale of 0 to 7 to determine the severity of hangovers. Researchers found that hangovers were worse after a night of drinking bourbon compared to a night of drinking vodka. 

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3. Avoid Excessive Caffeine

Drinking a cup of coffee, if that's something you do every day, is not necessarily dehydrating. It's not a good idea to drink more coffee than you normally would, however.

Herbal tisanes are a good way to rehydrate, although there is no evidence that so-called detoxifying herbs will help with a hangover.

3. Snack on salty foods

Eating salty foods can help replenish your body’s sodium levels, which may also be depleted after heavy drinking. Some of the best examples include: 

  • Pickles (362 mg sodium/spear)
  • Olives (310 mg/4 green manzanilla olives)
  • Chicken noodle soup (343 mg/cup)

Pain Medication

Ease a pounding head with a pill (or two, depending on the recommended dosage), but stick to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen), not acetaminophen (Tylenol): “While it’s OK for a headache, when combined with a liver that’s working overtime to metabolize alcohol, it can cause liver damage or be deadly,” says Dena Davidson, Ph.D., former associate professor of psychiatry at Indiana University School of Medicine.  

Drinking Water For Hangover Symptoms Relief

Alcohol is a diuretic, i.e., it causes increased urine production and fluid loss from the body. Some of the worst symptoms after drinking, such as thirst and headache, are a result of the dehydrating effect of alcohol. How to feel better after drinking? Staying hydrated with clear liquids is an effective cure. Water is the best hangover cure drink. When a hungover person drinks a lot of water, they replenish the lost fluid in the body. It’s a good idea to have a glass of water before bed, drink more water during the night, and keep sipping water throughout the next day.

Coffee

Lots of people—hungover or not—use a cup of joe to wake up and feel alert at work. But a trip to Starbucks won’t give you lasting benefits, and caffeine can both treat and cause headaches and migraines, so this one is a personal preference. If you do down a cup to cure a hangover, be sure to drink water, too, since studies suggest caffeine causes dehydration. Here’s How to Brew the Best Coffee At Home.  

5. Eat Something

Food may seem like the last thing you want, but it can help. It doesn't have to be much or anything that will make you sick. Try to eat mineral- and protein-rich food, even if you don't feel like it.

Begin with something bland, like a piece of bread or a few crackers or pretzels. The carbs will help regulate your blood sugar, easing the shakes and dizziness. If that stays down, try something with a little more substance like a piece of fruit (bananas are excellent) or a smoothie. In Poland, drinking pickle juice is a popular remedy.

Vegetarian and Vegan Hangover Cure Foods

Hangover Remedies to Avoid

While there are several common myths about how to cure a hangover, none of these have scientific support. Some may even be harmful to your health.

The Hair of the Dog

The practice of having a drink the next morning to ward off the effects of a hangover doesn't work in the long run, contrary to popular belief. It may lessen the symptoms in the short term, but giving the liver more alcohol to metabolize will only increase your discomfort later and lengthen the amount of time you have to wait until your hangover ends.

Additionally, getting into the habit of having a morning-after drink may lead to more alcohol consumption and can contribute to eventual alcohol dependence.

Black Coffee

Coffee may relieve the feeling of fatigue associated with a hangover and help alleviate the headache symptoms by constricting blood vessels, but that relief is only temporary and the symptoms will return. Coffee also acts as a diuretic, which means it further dehydrates the body.

Pain Relievers Before Bed

Taking preemptive pain relievers before going to sleep may seem to make sense, but this approach to hangover prevention fails for two reasons:

  • The effects of the pain reliever will usually wear off before the onset of hangover symptoms. It would be better to take the medication after your symptoms begin.
  • Your liver metabolizes many over-the-counter pain medicines, including NSAIDs and acetaminophen. This puts stress on your liver while it's already metabolizing alcohol and, in the case of acetaminophen, it is potentially dangerous.

Fried or Greasy Foods

If you eat fatty foods before drinking, the oils can coat your stomach lining and slow down the absorption of alcohol. This can help reduce the severity of a hangover. However, eating greasy food the morning after a drinking bout won't impact your hangover, and it may even add to your gastrointestinal problems by irritating the stomach and intestines.

Burnt Toast

Activated charcoal (also called activated carbon) can act as a filter in the body, and it’s often used to treat some types of poisonings and overdoses. While it may seem logical that the carbon found on burnt toast might act the same way, it’s not the same material.

Activated charcoal is processed in a specific way to increase its ability to absorb toxins; however, the carbon found on burnt toast is not processed in the same manner, and it contains other compounds. Additionally, activated charcoal may not be effective at absorbing alcohol after your body has already begun metabolizing it. In fact, over-the-counter products sold as hangover cures that contain activated charcoal are intended to be taken before drinking, not after the hangover begins.

How to avoid a hangover

Alternate drinks

Drink one soft drink for every one alcoholic you consume, as this will help balance out the dehydrating effects of the alcohol – preferably not fizzy, though, as sugary drinks speed up the absorption of alcohol is into your bloodstream. Drink a pint of water before bed, and one each hour for the next day, to help rehydrate your body.

Sleep

Whether it’s trying to work through a hangover the day after the office party, or getting up early to see the in-laws on a Sunday, we’ve all been there. The best defence? Sleep. Although it’s easier said than done, more sleep means less of a hangover as it’s the best way for your body to concentrate on recovery!

Eat before you drink

It’s age old advice, but lining your stomach really does help ward off the dreaded hangover. And, it’s the perfect excuse to tuck into carb-laden foods every once in a while, as they are digested slower and will help stop the alcohol from irritating your stomach. A cooked breakfast in the morning will also help to give you an energy boost, plus eggs and meat are rich in cysteine, an amino acid that helps clear out toxins. Yum.

Best hangover cure food

Bananas

As well as causing dehydration, alcohol drains potassium out of your system. Bananas are the most potassium-rich snack we can think of so go ahead and treat yourself.

Bouillon soup

This thin vegetable broth is packed with all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to recover, plus it’s easy on the stomach. Great for when your feeling tender, and would struggle to digest a big meal.

Gherkins

Gherkins are rich in nutrients including vitamin A, iron, potassium, vitamin K, calcium and manganese, so chewing on one could help replenish some of the essential vitamins your body has lost. Plus, it’s a great low calorie snack.

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