Searching for the best hangover cures seems to be an age-old challenge many of us have confronted at one time (or a few) or another. Of course, the best way to avoid a hangover is to practice alcohol abstinence or moderation. If you do end up overconsuming alcohol, the only surefire way to get rid of a hangover is to wait it out. However, certain approaches may help ease some of your hangover symptoms.
Drinking too much alcohol can lead to a number of next-day symptoms, including:
- muscle aches
- poor sleep
- sensitivity to light and sound
- decreased attention and concentration
Natural Cures for a Hangover
There are no natural remedies proven to get rid of a hangover entirely. Here's a look at the science behind several substances often touted as natural hangover cures:
1) Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly pear cactus extract may have a moderate effect on reducing hangover symptoms, according to a 2004 study of 64 healthy young adults. Thought to curb alcohol-induced inflammation, prickly pear cactus appeared to decrease some hangover symptoms (such as nausea and dry mouth) when taken five hours prior to alcohol consumption.
For a 2003 study, researchers assigned 15 healthy adults to take either placebo capsules or artichoke supplements before and after consuming alcohol. Results showed that artichoke extract was not effective in preventing hangover symptoms.
In a research review published in 2007, scientists concluded that kudzu root is "an inappropriate herb for use in herbal hangover remedies." The review found that use of kudzu at time of high alcohol consumption may augment alcohol's toxic effects.
How to Prevent a Hangover
If you're planning to consume alcohol, the following practices may help decrease your chances of experiencing a hangover the following day:
- drinking slowly, in moderation, and on a full stomach
- drinking a glass of water in between each alcohol beverage
- sticking to one type of alcohol
- choosing beverages (such as vodka and gin) made with fewer congeners (additives thought to increase hangover risk)
Try these tactics to reduce your hangover symptoms:
- consume honey, fruit juice, and other foods and drinks that contain fructose (a type of sugar shown to help the body burn alcohol faster)
- replenish depleted salt and potassium stores by consuming bouillon soup
- drink plenty of water
- rest and/or return to sleep
McGregor NR. "Pueraria lobata (Kudzu root) hangover remedies and acetaldehyde-associated neoplasm risk." Alcohol. 2007 41(7):469-78.
Pittler MH, White AR, Stevinson C, Ernst E. "Effectiveness of artichoke extract in preventing alcohol-induced hangovers: a randomized controlled trial." CMAJ. 2003 9;169(12):1269-73.
Wiese J, McPherson S, Odden MC, Shlipak MG. "Effect of Opuntia ficus indica on symptoms of the alcohol hangover." Arch Intern Med. 2004 28;164(12):1334-40.