The Ultimate List of Hangover Cures

by Paul Michael on 8 October 2010 9 comments

We're only a few months away from the party season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year are just a few of the many occasions that give you an excuse to drink a little more than you should. And then, the hangover is upon you. Are there really any good cures out there? Well, it turns out there are a bunch of methods worth trying.

First, the tried and tested ones

Drink plenty of water. That means drinking high-quality H2O before, during and after the event. My general rule is one glass of water for every drink, and then chug a glass or two before bed and again when you wake up. Alcohol dehydrates you which causes a lot of the hangover pains. Water is a great way to combat those effects. And if you want to up the ante, try a drink packed with electrolytes, like Powerade, Gatorade, and so on.

Hit up the eggs. Our bodies often crave things like eggs after we've been drinking. Mine usually comes fried with bacon, but why eggs? Well, the magic word here is "albumin." It's a protein in eggs that helps to rehydrate cells (the same ones you dehydrated the night before). You can even chug them raw, if you can stomach them in your delicate state.

Get fruity. Fruits are full of fructose, which helps you get the alcohol out of your system faster. Vitamin C is also packed into most fruits, and that needs to be replenished after your night on the town. Whether it's a fruit smoothie, tomato juice, orange juice, persimmon, or anything else fruity, get them down you. Also, try additional vitamin C pills to boost your levels. This will stimulate your liver to break down the alcohol.

Drugs work. Ibuprofen. Alka-Seltzer. Pepto-Bismol. Resolve (that's from the UK). I've tried them all and they ALL helped. You're in pain, and pain relievers will help to dull that pain. Combined with the tips above, they'll work wonders. You can also try Tiger Balm, clove oil or any other cooling medication on your head, the back of your neck, and your temples. This should provide some relief.

Hair of the dog. You know the expression. Why does it work? Well, some say that a hangover is caused by alcohol withdrawal, which is alleviated by more booze. Others say it has to do with the effects of methanol metabolism. Either way, it's a very good way to beat the hangover, but it obviously has major drawbacks. Good for a Sunday at home, not so good for a Monday morning in the office. Unless, of course, you have a very liberal alcohol policy.

Coffee really is your friend. You see it all the time in movies and on TV. Someone has a hangover, they reach for the coffee pot. Well, it's not just good for making you a little more alert. The caffeine present in your cup of joe acts as a vasoconstrictor. This helps to shrink those dilated blood vessels that are causing your headache. Apparently, anyway.

Now, some more unusual cures

Try a little willow bark or feverfew. Pop down to your local vitamin store and pick up one of mother nature's best pain relievers. Willow bark has a natural form of aspirin in it that will help fight off those headaches. Feverfew has the same qualities. And they're both completely natural, if that's something you want from your medication.

Bouillon and some hot water. The Brits have no problem drinking weak gravy (Oxo cube + hot water) and yet it can be more than a tasty beverage. All that salt and potassium that left your body via the toilet needs to be replaced, and bouillon contains a bunch.

Take Niacin for better blood flow. You've no doubt seen that word on cereal boxes and other foods. One of Niacin's properties is the dilation of your blood vessels. That increase in blood flow allows toxins to removed from your cells more quickly, speeding up the whole detoxification process. Niacin is available from most pharmacies and vitamin stores.

Go crackers with honey. Honey is another one of those high fructose ingredients that helps your body get rid of the alcohol faster. So pour some on a cracker or two and put that hangover in its place.

And why not go bananas at the same time? Instead of the crackers, mix bananas with honey and milk and make a hangover-busting milkshake. The banana helps to calm the stomach, as does the milk. The honey and banana both contain natural sugars to restore your blood sugar levels back to normal. The milk also rehydrates you. And best of all, bananas are rich in electrolytes, magnesium and potassium, which are killed by heavy drinking.

Charcoal ain't just for grillin'. More prevention than cure, take a tablet of activated charcoal for each alcoholic drink you have. Charcoal absorbs all sorts of impurities in the alcohol (water filters are made of them) and these are known to cause some of the issues associated with a hangover. But don't overdo it, as charcoal can also absorb nutrients, too.

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Ginger or peppermint for the inevitable stomach upset. It's not just your head that hurts after painting the town red. Ginger is a natural and effective remedy for stomachs that are really feeling the effects of one too many. Make sure you're getting a good amount of real ginger, though. Capsules are reliable; a can of ginger ale usually isn't — that's just ginger flavor. Peppermint is also a great natural aid for indigestion and stomach problems, but chew actual leaves, not minty gum. Real peppermint tea is a good solution if you can't find real leaves in your local store.

Replace your amino acids. Alcohol deprives your body of essential amino acids. These are the building blocks of protein, so replace them with a meal that contains beef, chicken, fish or soy. You can also buy amino acid supplements if you just can't face food.

Lemon-aid (or lime-aid). Lemons and limes contain a lot of natural sugars. Adding two or three tablespoons to a glass of water or coffee will help stabilize your blood sugar. It may not taste all that great though.

Stimulate the scalp. In college, I had a friend who would cure his hangover by standing in the shower and aiming the high-powered jets at a certain spot on his head. I always thought it was odd, but there's method to the madness. By stimulating the scalp you are bringing blood into the area, and those open vessels help relieve a headache. Pull your hair (if you have some), use a gentle massager or try the shower-head technique.

Take a mustard bath. Now, before you go out and spend a few hundred bucks on Grey Poupon, relax. All you need to do is add a few tablespoons of mustard powder to a hot bath and soak for 20 minutes. Mustard has the ability to increase circulation and draw toxins out from the body. Give it a try.

Milk thistle. Available from any good vitamin store, milk thistle (silymarin) protects liver cells from toxins. It should be taken before going out for a few drinks, preferably with a meal or snack.

Get to know Kudzu extract. Also known as Pueraria lobata, Kudzu has been in used in traditional Chinese medicine for many years. It's something that actually helps reduce alcohol intake, so you're less likely to want those extra drinks that turn you from happy to completely bombed. It also contains isoflavones, diadzin and puerarin, which are known to speed up the hangover healing time.

Give Yoga the time of day. Some yoga poses can literally help you push the alcohol out of the effected organs. I have not tried this one, but I know a few people who swear by yoga as a hangover cure. Look at "the seated twist" for starters.

Try a shot of wheatgrass. Wheatgrass is considered to be a natural detoxifier, cleansing the body's blood and water and revitalizing the cells. It also contains powerful detoxifying agents and assists in hydration. Drink a glass at night before hitting the hay, and one the following morning for full effect.

Prickly pear cactus. Researchers at Tulane University and the University of California have discovered that prickly pear cactus extract (Opuntia ficus indica) can relieve hangover symptoms and dry mouth. It can also relieve inflammation. It is best taken several hours before you start drinking alcohol.

Well, there you have it. If you know of any sure-fire hangover cures (other than not drinking in the first place) share them here so we can all benefit this holiday season. And as always, please, don't drink and drive.

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Guest's picture
Guest

Painkillers like ibuprofen are one thing, but it is a very bad idea to take acetaminophen (Tylenol). I believe it can fry your liver or some such when combined with alcohol still in your system. Personally, I don't take any painkillers with alcohol, but certainly avoid Tylenol.

Guest's picture
Guest

You left off the one absolute cure that is healthiest for your body and brain. Oxygen. If there is an oxygen bar or you have a relative who is on an oxygen tank, borrow a few minutes worth. Right as rain.

Guest's picture
Natalie

Sometimes the only thing that does the trick for me is a Coca-Cola. (But only Coke--Pepsi is not magical at all.) Something about the bubbles and the formula calms my urpy stomach!

Guest's picture

Love this picture!

I always eat something and take ibuprofen with a big glass of water before hitting the sack when I've had a few drinks. It works 100% of the time to avoid a hangover.

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cmdweb

Here in Scotland, the number 1 hangover cure is a bottle of Irn Bru (full sugar of course).
Irn Bru is a fizzy soft drink, bright orange in colour and rammed with sugar and caffiene. In Scotland it's sales have been higher than those of Coke and Pepsi for a long time.

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Guest

My favorite hangover "cure" was taking a super-B ("B 100") vitamin before bedtime with a full glass of water. It won't work if you've gotten sick from an overdose, but seems to work to alleviate most symptoms the next morning.

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peter

In Russia people who need to stop the dry horrors the next morning take a swig of pickling brine. There's usually a jar of pickles in the fridge, take a slug of the brine and you won't feel thirsty. Believe me, it works. But my favourite is biltong (like beef jerky). It seems to soak up all the nastiness without being too heavy.

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Digbee

Alka-Seltzer has Tylenol in it. Tylenol will kill your liver when mixed with alcohol thus killing you.

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Briana

Great article. I wanted to find out once and for all why I crave eggs when I have a hangover. It just seemed so odd to me because when my tummy is hurting, the smell of it can make it unhappy as well. But as soon as the tummy pains are gone, I go right for the eggs...scrambled, over easy, hard boiled (great for on the go since Safeway and Starbucks has hard boiled eggs) - I just can't do them raw! Thank you for answering my inquiry!