No one likes to drink too much (or eat too much) and wake up with morning-after regrets — about the alcohol consumed or otherwise. While there are always excuses and opportunities to overindulge, remember that the only guaranteed way to prevent a hangover is to limit your booze intake. While there are some ways to reduce your suffering if you do end up overdoing it, none of these so-called remedies is a miracle cure to undo the damage.
As tempting as it might be to reach for a decadent Bloody Mary or mimosa at brunch the next day, think twice. More booze will only delay an inevitable hangover, which starts as soon as your blood alcohol level starts to dip. Unless you want to prolong the pain, it's probably best to get the headache and nausea over with as soon as possible.
While activated charcoal or chlorella can lessen hangover symptoms, liver-cleansing herbal supplements won't. In theory, they may help the liver flush enough toxins to make a difference. But alternative medicine practitioner Melanie Angelis of Nourished In Eden says her clients haven't noticed much of a difference after using milk thistle, reishi mushroom, or the amino acid glycine.
If you drink coffee regularly, a little bit won't hurt, but don't think for a second that your morning joe is the key to getting back in the saddle. Instead of alleviating symptoms, it can amplify them by narrowing blood vessels and increasing blood pressure. It's a quick path to upgrading the throbbing in your head to a full-scale assault.
Bacon and eggs may seem like the breakfast of champions, but no one gets a gold medal for heartburn. Instead, think bland carbs that raise blood sugar, such as toast, oatmeal, and cereal.
Giving in to your lazy side and sleeping it off may feel right initially, but a gentle workout may actually help you feel better. It releases endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals, and encourages breath and perspiration, which helps just a bit of the alcohol leave the body. If you feel up to exercising, first guzzle water or a sports drink fortified with electrolytes. (A bit of alcohol also leaves the body via urine.)
Some people swear by the Polish hangover remedy of drinking pickle juice before bed. Sure, the liquid has a high concentration of electrolytes (read: sodium), but gulping down this salty brew doesn't do much to cure a hangover (and, after a night of drinking, it's kind of gross).
Alcohol can change how your body reacts to painkillers — and the result can be deadly. Acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) can cause liver damage when used in combination with alcohol, especially in the elderly or those with an existing illness. Aspirin isn't a great second choice, because it can increase stomach acids, leading to ulcers and other problems. Ibuprofen (often sold as Advil or Motrin) is usually a better choice for the morning after.
There isn't much in life that an orgasm can't top, but there's no research showing that a big O will out-wow the misery of a hangover. Still, it does release some endorphins, so if it makes you happy, go for it.
It's intuitive to want to get the bad stuff out, but bowing down to the porcelain god isn't going to save you. Vomiting increases dehydration, and there's a risk of vomit entering your lungs. Instead, drink water and seek medical attention if you start to shake or experience hallucinations.
A midnight (or later) snack is a case of the right idea at the wrong time. It's best to have a stomach full of food before drinking, not after. Although a heavy bout of drinking may bring on a craving for a pre-bedtime burger, all that food is going to sit heavily on top of the alcohol that's still going straight to your bloodstream.
There's no truth to the chemistry of combining booze in a particular order. Beer, wine, and spirits all contain different levels of alcohol, and it takes longer to get drunk with beer than the hard stuff. But once you've passed the point of no return, the feeling is equally lousy.
While a multivitamin won't hurt, don't expect a miracle, either. While someone with nutritional deficiencies due to long-term alcoholism may benefit, the occasional stand-alone drinking binge has a negligible impact on your vitamin levels. While many so-called hangover cures claim to give you a needed B12 or D boost, healthy people won't notice any difference in their hangover symptoms.
The belief that preparations for a night out should including "lining your stomach" are more common overseas. In the Mediterranean, it's taking a spoonful of olive oil; in some places, it's drinking a glass of milk. But all that does is put something aside from alcohol in the stomach. It's not nothing, but it's not a solution, either.
Whether in shady bodegas or online stores, pills and other treatments such as PreToxx and NoHang aren't going to handle a hangover any more quickly than wholesome-sounding herbal supplements — in fact, they're usually the same ingredients with flashier packaging, and British scientists debunked these things back in 2005. The fine print on products sold through Amazon even include language that should make buyers think twice, such as saying a pill cleans out "impurities" but "does not stop the effects of alcohol."
In Asia and south of the border, various hangover "cures" involve shrimp or other seafood in some way, usually explained with murky references to salt content or amino acids: a serving of kung pao shrimp in brine, eaten before sleep; a Mexican raw shrimp and shellfish salad made with onions and lime called aguachile; and a shrimp broth with red onions, cucumber, and hot sauce called leche de tigre (tiger's milk). If you like seafood, you'll probably enjoy all these — but a little less than usual, because you'll be hungover.