Hangovers are the worst. That nasty combo of headache, nausea and gut-pain can cost you precious hours of your life. While there are certainly preventative measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of a hangover (headache medication, food, lots of water before bed, etc.), inevitably you’re going to get stuck with a dirty hangover that you need to crush before it kills your day. Here are 11 awesome hangover cures that you can turn to when you need to ease the pain.
Ginger is an all-purpose digestive aid. You can eat it with sushi, drink some ginger tea or mix ginger juice with water for a nausea-reducing elixir that’ll balance your gastric fluids and calm your system. This powerful antioxidant and anticoagulant can work wonders, but don’t consume fresh ginger on an empty stomach. Mix it up with something else.
Honey is a great antioxidant that’s loaded with fructose and glucose. In Poland, people mix honey in with pickle juice for a hydrating, salty hangover-recovery treat. If the idea of honey pickle juice sounds foul to you, just take a couple table spoons of the magic bee sauce and enjoy the fresh coat of healing goodness.
9. Prickly Pear
For desert drunks, the prickly pear is a solid morning option that’ll help take the edge off the hurt. The extract from the prickly pear cactus can help reduce nausea, loss of appetite and dry mouth. You can find prickly pear extract in a bunch of different dietary supplements.
Yep, eggs. Eggs have cysteine in ‘em. Cysteine is an awesome amino acid that breaks down acetaldehyde, a toxin that’s a byproduct of the oxidation of ethanol. Acetaldehyde causes hangovers and eggs break down the acetaldehyde. So get over the fact that you don’t want breakfast and scramble that hangover out of your system.
7. Coca Cola
Oh the sweet, sweet nectar of Coca Cola can do wonders for a messed up belly. Some say that Coca Cola was originally invented as a hangover cure. I don’t know about all that, but whether you’ve eaten a big meal or you need to turn down the volume down in your stomach, a cold Coke just feels good.
6. Greasy Diner Breakfast
Whether you’re pounding pancakes at IHOP, feasting on French toast at Norm’s or plowing through Moons Over My Hammy at Denny’s, greasy-ass diner food will help you booze-coated belly correct itself. Greasy food sticks to the stomach wall and help slow down the process of alcohol absorption. That’s not to say that you won’t feel like trash afterward, but it’ll be a different kind of trash – a much more manageable form of discomfort. If you have the chance to close the night out with some greasy food, that’s a solid hangover prevention method, but if you miss the prevention window, reach for some bacon in the morning.
5. Gatorade + Banana
Electrolytes. You need ‘em, man. When you’re recovering from a night of drunken excess, you’re bound to end up dehydrated. Drinking lots of water helps, yes, but a steady stream of electrolytes will hydrate you more quickly. Your hung-over body also needs an influx of Vitamin B and potassium. Drinking alcohol drains your levels of Vitamins B6 and B12. Bananas will calm your gut-hurt and expedite the metabolism of alcohol.
4. Bloody Mary
If you’re head is pounding and your stomach is sloshed with whatever god-awful combo of drinks you consumed last night, drinking more sounds like the last thing you wanna do. But more booze can actually help you right the ship. A nice breakfast cocktail like a Bloody Mary can serve the dual purpose of a breakfast and hangover remedy. This is a great option if food consumption is totally out of the question, and the tomato juice will help you metabolize alcohol more quickly.
Vietnamese rice noodles with broth and beef (or tripe or chicken) will hydrate you and fill your gut with a nice layer of nutrition, exfoliation and toxin-fighting spices. Don’t go too crazy with the hot sauce though. Under normal circumstances, unreasonable amounts of Sriracha in your Pho would be a great idea, but when you’re dealing with a tender tummy, you gotta keep it mellow. Add some lime, basil, sweet Hoison sauce, cilantro, onions and bean sprouts, and go to town with a soup spoon and chopsticks in hand.
2. Pad Thai
More rice noodle love here. Pad Thai will fill that void in your stomach with a tender helping of noodles, eggs, tamarind juice and some light protein like shrimp, chicken or tofu. I don’t know the science behind it, but it works like a charm.
1. Matzo Ball Soup
The medicinal healing powers of the matzo ball have been well documented throughout history. Known as Jewish penicillin, matzo ball soup can kill a hangover, eliminate pink eye and in some cases, even cure cancer. Embrace the power of the matzo. It’s the most comfortable comfort food ever invented.
Honorable Mention List:
- Tom Yum Soup
1.Rehydration: “Effective interventions include rehydration, prostaglandin inhibitors, and vitamin B6“.
2.Tolfenamic acid (TA): A study concludes, “TA was found significantly better than placebo in the subjective evaluation of drug efficacy (p < 0.001) and in reducing the reported hangover symptoms in general (p < 0.01). In the TA group, significantly lower symptom scores were obtained for headache (p < 0.01), and for nausea, vomiting, irritation, tremor, thirst, and dryness of mouth (all p < 0.05).”
3.Vitamin B6 (pyritinol): Some studies have found large doses of Vitamin B6 (several hundred times the recommended daily intake) can help to reduce hangovers.
4.Chlormethiazole: “Chlormethiazole was found to lower blood pressure and adrenaline output and, furthermore, to relieve unpleasant physical symptoms, but did not affect fatigue and drowsiness. The cognitive test results were only slightly influenced by this agent, while psychomotor performance was significantly impaired. Subjects with severe subjective hangover seemed to benefit more from the chlormethiazole treatment than subjects with a mild hangover.” “However, all 8 subjects had unpleasant nasal symptoms following chlormethiazole, and it is therefore not an ideal hypnotic for this age group.”
5.Pedialyte: Pedialyte may be an effective remedy for hangovers due to its replacement of lost electrolytes.
6.Hair of the dog: The belief that consumption of further alcohol after the onset of a hangover will relieve symptoms, based upon the theory that hangover represents a form ofwithdrawal and that by satiating the body’s need for alcohol the symptoms will be relieved. Certainly the additional alcohol has a sedating and anaesthetic effect. While the practice is affirmed by tradition and by many hospitality providers, medical opinion holds that the practice merely postpones the symptoms, and courts addiction. Favored choices include Fernet Branca and Bloody Mary.
7.Food and water: consumption of foods such as eggs, which contain cysteine, and water may be enough to replenish lost moisture and at least rehydrate the body, making a hangover shorter. A traditional hangover remedy in India is coconut water, the natural electrolytes of which will assist in rehydration of the body. A bacon sandwich has also been claimed to effectively relieve hangovers.
8.Oxygen: There have been anecdotal reports from those with easy access to a breathing oxygen supply — medical staff, SCUBA divers and military pilots — that oxygen can also reduce the symptoms of hangovers sometimes caused by alcohol consumption. The theory is that the increased oxygen flow resulting from oxygen therapy improves the metabolic rate, and thus increases the speed at which toxins are broken down. However, one source states that (in an aviation context) oxygen has no effect on physical impairment caused by hangover.
9.Rosiglitazone: [Study in rats] “Rosiglitazone alleviated the symptoms of ethanol-induced hangover by inducing ALD2 expression…”
10.Acetylcysteine: There are claims that N-acetylcysteine can relieve or prevent symptoms of hangover through scavenging of acetylaldehyde, particularly when taken concurrently with alcohol. Additional reduction in acetaldehyde toxicity can be achieved if NAC is taken in conjunction with vitamin B1 (thiamine).
Ineffective or unproven remedies (work for some..)
Recommendations for foods, drinks and activities to relieve hangover symptoms abound. The ancient Romans, on the authority of Pliny the Elder, favored raw owl‘s eggs or friedcanary, while the “Prairie Oyster” restorative, introduced at the 1878 Paris World Exposition, calls for raw egg yolk mixed with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper. By 1938, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel provided a hangover remedy in the form of a mixture of Coca-Cola and milk (Coca-Cola itself having been invented, by some accounts, as a hangover remedy). Alcoholic writer Ernest Hemingway relied on tomato juice and beer. Certain mixtures were developed specifically for the purpose. The “Black Velvet” consists of equal parts champagne and flat Guinness Stout, A 1957 survey by a Wayne State University folklorist found widespread belief in the efficacy of heavy fried foods, tomato juice and sexual activity.
Activities said to be restorative include a shower—alternating very hot and very cold water, exercise, and steambath or sauna (although medical opinion holds this to be very dangerous, as the combination of alcohol and hyperthermia increases the likelihood of dangerous cardiac arrhythmias).
Other untested or discredited treatments include:
- Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) extract: “Our results suggest that artichoke extract is not effective in preventing the signs and symptoms of alcohol-induced hangover.”
- Propranolol: “We conclude that propranolol does not prevent the symptoms of hangover.”
- Fructose and glucose: A 1976 research came to the conclusion that “The results indicate that both fructose and glucose effectively inhibit the metabolic disturbances induced by ethanol but they do not affect the symptoms or signs of alcohol intoxication and hangover.” Nevertheless, consumption of honey (a significant fructose and glucose source) is often suggested as a way to reduce the effect of hangovers.
- Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata): The main ingredient in remedies such as kakkonto. A study concluded, “The chronic usage of Pueraria lobata at times of high ethanol consumption, such as in hangover remedies, may predispose subjects to an increased risk of acetaldehyde-related neoplasm and pathology. … Pueraria lobata appears to be an inappropriate herb for use in herbal hangover remedies as it is an inhibitor of ALDH2.”
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“Alcohol Hangover: Mechanisms and Mediators” [PDF] by Robert Swift, M.D., Ph.D. and Dena Davidson, Ph.D., NIAAA Alcohol Health and Research World, January 14, 2002, retrieved November 22, 2004.
- “The party’s over: Advice on treating hangovers” by Dr. Thomas Stuttaford, The Times, December 13, 2004 retrieved August 24, 2005. A colorful article on hangovers, their cause and treatment along with reference to famous Soho residents, such as Jeffrey Bernard, Dylan Thomas and Francis Bacon.
- Acetate contributes to hangover headache. Hangover headache (and what’s much better, cure as well) unveiled