If you're searching for the magical elixir to cure a hangover, Chinese researchers may have found it. The solution: lemon-lime flavoured soda Sprite. But if you prefer to skip the sweet stuff, soda water is a good alternative, findings showed.
Some of the adverse effects of alcohol are thought to be caused not by the alcohol itself but by the process of the body trying to break down the alcohol.

After drinking, the body goes through two stages of a metabolic process to break down ethanol. First the liver metabolizes it into acetaldehyde by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and then into acetate by aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). Unlike acetaldehyde, acetate is considered harmless and may even be responsible for some of the positive health benefits of alcohol consumption. But exposing the body to acetaldehyde actually causes the symptoms of a hangover, including nausea and a pounding headache.

To see what beverages could help the body better metabolize alcohol, researchers at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou analyzed 57 different drinks, including herbal infusions, teas, and carbonated beverages. The team measured their effects on ADH and ALDH, finding that each drink had a different effect.

Interestingly, some herbal teas actually slowed down the process, prolonging a hangover. But the best beverages were Xue bi, the Chinese version of Sprite, as well as soda water, which were found to speed the enzyme's process, shortening the body's exposure to ALDH. Still, before guzzling Sprite or soda water after a few too many, the team said that more research is needed to further support the evidence.

The results, announced October 7, were published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Food and Function.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Eating Some Asparagus

    The Journal of Food Science has revealed that <a href="http://www.ift.org/newsroom/news-releases/2009/august/13/asparagus-extracts.aspx">this spring vegetable might be the cure</a> for your post-partying pain. A study from the Institute of Medical Science and Jeju National University in South Korea tested the effect that eating asparagus has on hangovers. The results showed that amino acids and minerals found in the vegetable can protect liver cells from toxins. This process can help prevent nausea, fatigue and headaches.

  • Increasing Water Intake

    Drinking plenty of water or other hydrating fluids is a simple way to treat hangovers. While it won't offer a complete hangover cure, it definitely helps. "Alcohol thins the blood, which is 70 percent water, so it can affect the fluid balance," says Pete McCall, M.S., an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. "Drinking water helps restore necessary fluids and can help the bloodstream and circulatory system carry nutrients and oxygen to the tissue and remove the wastes from a night of excessive consumption."

  • Nibbling Toast With Honey

    This is a traditional method used to treat hangovers, but evidence suggests that any high-carb, high-sugar snack might give you only a temporary boost. "Excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect the metabolism of glucose, so having a snack like this that is high in carbs and sugars (the fructose in the honey) can help elevate blood sugar and provide some immediate energy," says McCall.

  • Guzzling Sports Drinks

    Here again, the extra electrolytes -- really just salts and sugars -- found in sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade might give them an edge over plain old water to treat a hangover. "Sports drinks will elevate blood glucose and can elevate sodium levels, which helps muscle cells uptake and use water, leading to quicker rehydration," says McCall.

  • Loading Up On Vitamins And Minerals

    Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., medical director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association, says that vitamin C and magnesium can help the body break down alcohol and eliminate it from the body, making these two supplements a viable hangover remedy. “One of the most absorbable forms of nutritional magnesium is magnesium citrate powder, which can be taken with hot or cold water,” says Dean.

  • Sipping A Cup Of Joe

    The caffeine found in a classic cup of coffee can give you a short-term boost, but its dehydrating effects could limits its effectiveness as a hangover cure, says Weiss. "Caffeine, which could wake you up, can also dehydrate you, potentially making the situation worse," he says. Though having coffee has only temporary and limited effects, it remains a popular way to initially ease a hangover.

  • Knocking Back Some Hair Of The Dog

    "Hair of the dog," or waking up and having another alcoholic drink, may be a feel-good hangover cure (at least temporarily), but this traditional college approach to ease a hangover really doesn't help. "If an individual is planning to be active, recreationally or competitively, this is not a good idea at all," says McCall. "Drinking more alcohol will continue to disrupt blood chemistry and hydration, as well as impair cognitive function and muscular coordination."

  • Wolfing Down Greasy Food

    A greasy breakfast for a hangover remedy may give your body a short-term boost. "Besides glucose, alcohol reduces the amount of circulating free fatty acids in the bloodstream," says McCall. "A breakfast high in carbohydrate and fat content can help to elevate blood glucose and free fatty acid levels in the short term." However, for the long term, it’s not such a good idea.

  • Pushing Through A Workout

    Of all the possible and popular hangover cures, experts say that this one works the best, improving circulation and pumping up your mood-boosting hormones. The only hurdle is talking yourself into doing it. If you can, McCall has this advice: "Exercising during a hangover should be limited to low-to-moderate intensity exercise, since the hangover will negatively impact cognitive ability, motor control and coordination."

  • Getting Busy In The Bedroom

    Here again, a little morning romp may make you feel much better to ease a hangover -- if you can psych yourself (and your partner) up for it. "Sex with a hangover may be tough for all of the reasons we have discussed," says Weiss. "I've never seen any data to support its use for hangover, but there is no harm in trying."