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Lemon juice is all the rage these days. It’s said to be good for gut and skin as well as several other health benefits.
How about for hangovers? Does lemon juice help?
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at lemon juice for hangovers to see whether it helps or not. To do so, we’ll examine the nutrients in lemon juice to see if any have benefits for a hangover.
With so many supposed hangover cures, it’s hard to know which ones actually work. That’s why we’ll refer to research studies where we can, to give you a science-based answer.
So, with the introductions out of the way, let’s start taking a closer look at whether lemon juice helps hangovers.
Nutrients in lemon juice
To see whether lemon juice helps hangovers, we first need to look at the nutrients in it. After all, it’s this that will determine whether lemon juice has any benefits for a hangover or not.
Citrus fruits like lemons are high in vitamin C. Aside from its role in your immune system, vitamin C is also an important antioxidant.
One lemon contains around 19mg of vitamin C. That’s around 20% of your daily required amount of vitamin C.(1)
That said, lemons don’t top the list of citrus fruits that have the highest vitamin C concentrations. That said, they’re still a decent source.
Many foods in a healthy diet contain high levels of naturally occurring polyphenols such as, in fruits, vegetables, tea, and coffee. And lemons are a good source of them too.
Polyphenols are antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative damage.
Causes of a hangover
To answer this question, we need to go back to the basics to understand how alcohol causes hangovers in the first place.
Scientists still debate what the cause of a hangover is. That said, there are a few generally accepted theories as to why we get them. And for lemon juice to help hangovers, it’s going to need to counteract at least some of the causes of a hangover.(2)
Firstly, alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes your kidneys flush out extra water. It’s because alcohol blocks a hormone, called ADH, from being released by your pituitary gland (hormone-releasing gland in the brain). That’s why alcohol can make you dehydrated and this is one of the main causes of a hangover.
Another major cause of hangovers is inflammation. Alcohol is broken down by your liver to produce toxic by-products such as acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a highly volatile substance that reacts with your cells causing inflammation. Your liver quickly breaks down acetaldehyde before it can do this. However, drinking over your limits causes a backlog as your liver struggles to deal with the extra acetaldehyde load.(3)
Sleep disturbance is another cause of hangovers because alcohol significantly disrupts your sleep quality. A nights sleep with alcohol in your bloodstream is not the same as without.(4)
So, with the science out the way, let’s move onto the all-important question of whether lemon juice help hangovers or not.
Does lemon juice help hangovers?
It’s clear from the causes of a hangover, it’s highly unlikely that the help from drinking lemon juice for a hangover is going to be limited at best.
Firstly, all juices will provide benefit in terms of rehydration.
Lemon juice can provide you with a small amount of antioxidant nutrients as well. However, lemon juice doesn’t have any particular benefit over other juices.
In terms of research studies, there aren’t any that look at lemon juice for hangover specifically. However, there are studies that have shown lemon juice was protective against alcohol-induced liver injury in mice.(5)
Whether this correlates with benefits for a hangover is unproven.
The bottom line: Lemon juice contains some antioxidant nutrients like any other fruit juice. It’s unlikely to be particularly helpful for a hangover.
When is the best time to drink lemon juice for hangovers?
Although we’ve said that lemon juice is probably not going to be that helpful for a hangover, you may want to try it anyway.
In which case, drinking lemon juice during or straight after alcohol is probably the best time to do so. The reason is, there’s no point drinking lemon juice once you’re already hungover. By this stage, the damage by alcohol has been done.
Therefore, drinking lemon juice to support your body’s antioxidant defences before you’ve woken up with a hangover is the most logical approach.
Are there any negatives?
Lemon water is generally safe to drink, but there are a few potential side effects to be aware of.
Lemon contains citric acid, which may erode tooth enamel. You can limit the risk of this happening by drinking lemon juice through a straw. In addition, you could also rinse your mouth with water after drinking it. ,
Lemon juice is acidic. However, when it reaches your stomach, the chemical reactions that take place make it more alkali. That said, some people get bad heartburn after drinking lemon juice so it’s something to consider before trying. This is especially important when it comes to hangovers as alcohol can increase stomach acid secretion.(6)
Is lemon juice a hangover cure?
One thing’s for sure, lemon juice is not a hangover. And to be fair, a real hangover cure doesn’t exist.
Trying to “cure” a hangover by drinking lemon juice (or any other juice in fact) will result in disappointment.
As we mentioned earlier, the cause of a hangover is multifactorial. Poor sleep quality and dehydration are key, and these aspects can only be solved by drinking plenty of water and going back to sleep.
Lemon juice for hangovers – Final verdict
That brings us to the end of our look into whether lemon juice helps hangovers.
Unfortunately, aside from some vitamin C and polyphenols, it doesn’t have much else going for it.
If you’re interested in other juices that may have more benefits for a hangover, check out our article on the best hangover juices.