With bank holiday weekend coming up, Functional Nutritionist, Amy Morris, from Yumi Nutrition takes an expert look at whether some of the most popular hangover cures actually work.
1. Hair of the Dog (aka More Alcohol) – Although mostly anecdotal, there is some evidence to show having a small drink the next day may be beneficial. This is reportedly due to methanol being converted into formaldehyde (a toxic substance) after drinking which may in part cause some or most of the hangover symptoms.Yet when you drink alcohol with a hangover this can stop this conversion and prevent the formation of formaldehyde, allowing the methanol to be safely excreted from the body. However, drinking alcohol to treat a hangover is not recommended as it can cause an addiction to start.
2.Taking Ibuprofen or Paracetamol – Paracetamol is not always a good choice for a hangover as it is processed by the liver, which has already suffered enough when we drink alcohol. An ibuprofen tablet may be a better choice as it is anti-inflammatory and multiple studies have also shown them to have beneficial effects for people directly with hangovers.
3. Tomato Juice – Tomatoes contain compounds that may protect against liver damage, which heavy drinking can cause. More importantly, a test-tube study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer showed that tomato juice can speed up the rate at which enzymes in the body break down alcohol, which may help it leave the body quicker and may reduce damage to the liver.
4. Exercise – If you have the energy for it, exercising with a hangover may help you feel better but only due to the endorphin release it brings. It does not help “sweat out” the toxins created by drinking alcohol though unfortunately as is claimed.
5. A Cold Shower – Taking a cold shower may help your body get rid of the toxins created by drinking alcohol faster, due to the increase in circulation it brings. This may also help lift your mood, but there isn’t currently any science however linking cold showers to an improvement in a hangover directly.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar – It is no surprise that having a hangover causes cognitive impairment, with specifically sustained attention, long and short-term memory and psychomotor speed being predominantly affected in this area. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Food Biochemistry has concluded that apple cider vinegar (ACV) may help with cognitive impairment. On top of this, ACV has been shown in a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Cancer Prevention to help promote blood flow in the liver and the removal of toxins, which may be of value for people who drink alcohol as it directly impacts liver function and liver health negatively. If trying ACV, it is best taken in capsule form, gummy form or diluted with water.
7.Drinking a Raw Egg – When we drink alcohol, it lowers the levels of glutathione in the body which is an important antioxidant. The body relies on glutathione to break down the toxic by-products created after drinking alcohol and the body processing it. Eggs are rich in cysteine, which is needed to help the body to make glutathione on its own and so may help to improve hangover symptoms.
8. Spicy Food – On its own, spicy food may actually cause more irritation to your stomach alongside what the alcohol will have already done the night before, leading you to feel worse and even nauseous, so this “cure” does not seem to have any real truth in it despite many people suggesting it.
So, when it comes to trying to get rid of a hangover, sadly there isn’t a magical instant cure but there are a few things that have been found to offer some benefit and some that really are not worth trying at all! Ideally, go easy on how much alcohol you drink to avoid feeling terrible and punishing your body the next day.