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The Sad Truth About Curing Your Hangover, Says New Study

A group of researchers looked over every type of hangover remedy and came to this bold conclusion.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

If you've been searching for a full-proof pill or potion to cure a killer headache after a boozy binge, you might not find relief from this latest news.

Due to public demand, a group of researchers from King's College London and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom decided to explore the most effective treatments for the typical hangover ailments (such as headache, fatigue, nausea, weakness, and irritability). The study authors conducted a systematic review of 21 trials where each investigation had tested a different remedy.

Here's what they discovered: Any "proven" product or substance out there that has claimed to heal—or even prevent—a hangover has stemmed from "low-quality evidence." For starters, the researchers found that only 386 adults in total were evaluated in these studies—eight of which did not include women. The practices in the trials varied (like the type of alcohol consumed and if food was consumed during the process), the data on the nature and timing of the so-called cures was limited, and popular painkillers (hello, aspirin) have yet to be examined in randomized placebo-controlled trials.

The findings, which were just published in the journal Addiction, conclude that only three remedies—clove extract, tolfenamic acid (a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory painkiller used to treat migraines in the UK), and pyritinol (a combination of two B-vitamin compounds)—may warrant more rigorous assessments to test their validity in curing hangovers.

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"Hangover symptoms can cause significant distress and affect people's employment and academic performance," stated lead study author Dr. Emmert Roberts in a press release. "For now, the surest way of preventing hangover symptoms is to abstain from alcohol or drink in moderation."

Jennifer Caudle, DO, a board-certified family medicine physician and associate professor in the department of Family Medicine at Rowan University-School of Osteopathic Medicine, concurs with these findings. "The best medicine for a hangover is prevention, which means only drinking in moderation to prevent a hangover from coming on in the first place," she says.

However, since alcohol-induced hangovers result from several changes that occur within the body, your best bet would be to treat each problem area.

For example, dehydration could be the cause of a pounding headache while achy muscles can be due to inflammation. Therefore, Dr. Caudle adds that drinking water, eating well-balanced meals, resting, and taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory (with the approval of your doctor) may somewhat help alleviate the pain.

"But the one thing you need that you may not have expected is time," she states. "Time for the symptoms to go away."

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Amy Capetta
Amy Capetta has been writing articles on healthy living for more than two decades. Read more
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