Updated on December 28, 2022
Table of Contents
A night of drinking is all fun and games until the morning after. You wake up with a splitting headache, and the last thing you want to do is go to those plans you made last night. The dreaded hangover is here, and it can feel never ending. You’ve probably ended up here looking for a hangover cure.
Well, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that once you’ve got a hangover, the damage is done. There is no actual hangover cure. The good news is that there are several ways to ease your symptoms and help prevent getting a hangover the next time you drink.
What is a Hangover?
To start, knowing what causes a hangover can help you understand your enemy. A hangover is simply a term to describe what happens to you after a night of drinking alcohol. The main causes of a hangover include:
Dehydration is the most common cause of a hangover due to alcohol being a diuretic.
Alcohol causes inflammation in the body when the metabolization process begins. This is due to the creation of acetaldehyde, which is toxic and reacts with your cells.
Congeners are a byproduct of the alcohol fermentation process. They are found in high concentrations in dark-colored alcohol and are a known cause of hangover symptoms.
When you drink alcohol, you won’t get a good night’s sleep. This is because alcohol doesn’t allow your brain to get to the stages of sleep you need to feel rested.
We cannot stress enough that there isn’t an actual hangover cure, but there are several ways to help ease symptoms and make your morning more bearable.
1: Herbal Supplements
The best cure for a hangover is to prevent it from happening in the first place. One of the options when it comes to trying to prevent a hangover are herbal supplements. In fact, there have been several studies on herbs as a hangover prevention aid. Some herbs that are good for reducing hangover symptoms are:
- Milk Thistle
- Prickly Pear
- B Vitamins
For example, a study was done in 2004 on 64 healthy young adults to determine whether prickly pear cactus extract would relieve hangover symptoms. The subjects received either prickly pear extract or a placebo 5 hours before drinking alcohol. (1)
The results showed that while prickly pear extract did not reduce overall hangover symptoms, it did reduce the risk of a bad hangover by 50%.
Brands such as AfterDrink have created proprietary blends that combine these ingredients into one pill. You need to take 3 pills before your first drink and 3 more after your last drink.
Remember, these supplements are not hangover cures. They should be seen as a support aid to add to your recovery routine.
2: Hydration Mixes
Dehydration is commonly associated with hangovers. What you may not know is that dehydration isn’t a hangover symptom, but a cause. This is due to alcohol being a diuretic. Sometimes water by itself isn’t going to cut it. Another solution is to try hydration mixes.
Hydration mixes are little packets you can throw in your pocket to take with you on your night out. They’re powder mixtures of vitamins and minerals designed to replenish electrolytes and hydrate you faster than water.
While hydration mixes help in the morning, if you want to get in front of it, it’s best to drink them before and during a night out as well.
Another way to ease hangover symptoms is by taking painkillers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Alcohol can cause inflammation in the body, so painkillers such as ibuprofen can help you reduce those symptoms. Acetaminophen can help you relieve a hangover headache, as well.
It’s important to keep in mind that these drugs could have potential side effects when you take them with alcohol. Acetaminophen is metabolized in the liver, which can cause problems when your liver is also trying to break down all those cocktails.
As for ibuprofen, it can reduce the mucus of the stomach lining, causing more irritation when you’re already dealing with nausea. While these OTC pain relievers are typically safe to take, consulting with your doctor will help you make the right call on taking them as a hangover cure.
4: Sleep In
It’s never a bad idea to get a good night’s sleep. The problem with alcohol is that it can interfere with your sleep, leaving you poorly rested even if you’re in bed for a long time. When you’re drinking, alcohol can act as a sedative and make you feel sleepy, but in reality you’re going to have poor rest.
According to research, high amounts of alcohol consumption can decrease sleep quality by 39.2%. The lack of sleep itself doesn’t cause a hangover, but it can make your symptoms worse. So, it might not be a bad idea to go back to bed if you’re feeling sluggish during a hangover.
5: Eat a Nutritious Meal
While food may be the last thing on your mind as you hug the toilet, one of the best things you can do when trying to cure a hangover is eat a good breakfast. When you’re hungover, your blood sugar levels can be low. Research doesn’t directly connect blood sugar levels as a reason for a hangover, but they’re typically associated with binge drinking.
People often go for greasy food as being hungover triggers this craving. However, high protein and greasy food such as red meat can be hard to digest and leave you feeling bloated.
It’s best to stick to plain, easy to digest carbohydrates. Think plain pasta, toast and rice. These foods are high in calories and easy for the body to digest.
We’re not talking about a greasy plate of bacon, either. For breakfast to help you feel better, it should be full of nutritious foods and protein that won’t upset your body. You’ll also be providing your body with much needed vitamins and minerals that may have been depleted during the antics of the night before.
Research has been done on specific foods to show what works. Stick to foods such as eggs, oats, fruit such as bananas and maybe toast.
The bottom line is that while there are several ways to ease a hangover, there’s no total hangover cure. All you can do is get some rest, and try some of our remedies to ease your symptoms.
Remember, the only way to avoid a hangover entirely is to abstain from drinking alcohol. Have fun, and please drink responsibly!