From burned toast to raw eggs, there is no shortage of "hangover cures" to fix what ails you. Here's the science behind the best remedy for your pounding head and queasy stomach.
Chinese researchers suggest chugging a Sprite the morning after. Or if you prefer to skip the sweet stuff, soda water may be a good alternative. How it works is that it helps the body better metabolize alcohol, and in particular, speeds up your ability to process aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which is thought to be responsible for the symptoms of a hangover.
Interestingly, the scientists found that sipping herbal tea may slow down the process, prolonging your hangover. The results, announced this October, were published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Food and Function.
In a separate 2011 study, researchers suggest that your best bet might be a cup of joe and a painkiller. Published in the peer-reviewed online science journal PLoS One, the study revealed that common treatments for hangover headache, such as caffeine and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, block the effects of your hangover. Best solution: drink coffee about four hours after drinking, when acetate levels begin to spike. But don't overdo it, since caffeine works as a diuretic and can further dehydrate your body, making you feel worse.
A few other tried-and-true ways to curb the misery is to avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach and load up on carbohydrate-filled snacks to slow down the body's absorption of the alcohol, The Independent reports. Also, be sure to drink plenty of fluids the morning after, but avoid greasy, fatty, or spicy foods, which may be tempting but could make you feel worse.
What about the infamous "hair of the dog"? A 2011 study published in PLoS One found alcohol to be a poor hangover remedy as it causes greater alcohol dependence. Your best bet? Boiled or poached eggs, whole-grain toast, and a fruit smoothie.
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."
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