12 Hangover 'Cures' Debunked

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GET OVER IT

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 the holidays present a slew of 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, there's no miracle cure to undo the damage.

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MYTH #1: REACH FOR 'THE HAIR OF THE DOG'

As tempting as hitting the cocktail menu for a decadent Bloody Mary or mimosa might be, 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.

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MYTH #2: TAKE HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS

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. However, 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.

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MYTH #3: DRINK COFFEE

If you drink coffee regularly, a little bit won't hurt, (and may help with caffeine withdrawal), but don't think for a second that your morning joe is the key to getting back in the feel-good 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.

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MYTH #4: EAT GREASY FOOD

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.

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MYTH #5: SWEAT IT OUT

A gentle workout may help you feel better. But if you feel up to exercising, first guzzle water or a sports drink fortified with electrolytes. When you're in hangover territory, dehydration makes it hard to work out. The good news? Giving in to your lazy side and sleeping it off may be a better solution.

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MYTH #6: DRINK PICKLE JUICE

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).

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MYTH #7: POP A PAINKILLER

Alcohol can change how your body reacts to painkillers -- and the result can be deadly. Acetaminophen (Tthe 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.

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MYTH #8: HAVE AN ORGASM

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, if it makes you happy, go for it.
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MYTH #9: THROW UP

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.

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MYTH #10: EAT BEFORE BED

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.

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MYTH #11: BEER BEFORE LIQUOR, NEVER SICKER

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. 

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MYTH #12: SWALLOW A MULTIVITAMIN

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 push, healthy people won't notice any difference in their hangover symptoms.