Part of my job as a writer covering the world of drinking is… to drink. (Also, I’m from Texas, so I’ve had a few margaritas.) I know what it feels like to force my eyes open in the morning, nurse a pounding headache and wonder, “Why, why, why did I say yes to that last glass?” So, I wanted to figure out if there are any real cures for hangovers…
Do any of the common remedies that go beyond the basic prescription of “drink lots of water and sit tight ’til it passes” actually work? (Years ago, the New Yorker published a fantastic long essay about hangovers that’s eloquent hilarious, and science-y, if you’re up for a deep dive.)
Here are a few of my favorite time-tested remedies. And some crazy ones.
Popping a pain reliever. Before you go to sleep, the advice goes, drink lots of water, take a couple of Advil, Tylenol or aspirin, and hope for the best in the morning. Experts say: It might help dull your headache, but medicine mixed with alcohol, depending on how much you drank, can be even worse for your liver.
Hair of the dog. Probably the most popular hangover cure, this involves drinking more alcohol the morning after — a Bloody Mary, a beer or any number of other classics of the form. The idea is that your hangover is most painful when the body moves from breaking down alcohol to working on a drink’s secondary components. So if you add a little more alcohol for your body to get back to work on, it can mitigate the greatest pain. Experts say: It’s effective in postponing the hangover, but it’s not a cure (unless you drink continuously for the rest of your life).
Work it out. Some people, including me, take their next-day aches and pains to the gym. (I swear by barre classes.) Since exercise boosts endorphins, a good workout can make your mood a little better. Unfortunately, Men’s Health points out you can’t actually sweat alcohol out, so all your symptoms won’t be gone when SoulCycle ends. Experts say: If you go this route, make sure you drink LOTS of water to keep from getting dehydrated all over again.
Greasy food. Go-to meals for people with hangovers fall in two camps, but those craving a hamburger, drippy eggs or a giant Chipotle burrito seem to outnumber those who need a plate of fresh greens to feed a hangover. (Here are some recipes, if you’re going for it.) Experts say: Doctors agree that the effects feeding hangover work best when you do it preventatively. It’s important to eat enough food — be it a steak or a salad — before or while you’re drinking to help absorb the alcohol up front. The next day, it’s too late. (Although, a Korean study said asparagus is good for helping to break down alcohol’s components. Who knew?)
Get wet. My favorite hangover strategy comes from my friend Andy, who swears an early morning swim in the cold pond near his house in upstate New York accomplishes restorative magic. And F. Scott Fitzgerald once observed that the only people swimming at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in the French Riviera were those, “going for a short hangover dip at noon.” But if you’re landlocked, how about a relaxing shower? Experts say: Swimming, soaking in the tub or taking a shower can’t hurt, especially if being in the water generally helps you overcome pain. If the water is warm, though, it may make you sweat. Remember to HYDRATE.
Pass the salt. Ask for international hangover cures, and from nearly every person in every country, random ideas will spring forth. The editors at Elle tried out a few, including Pedialyte (yes, the salty drink for sick kids) to pickled plums, favored in Japan. Both were deemed too un-tasty in the midst of a hangover to complete the test of effectiveness. And pickle juice is recommended for Vodka-infused hangovers in Russia. Experts say: Again, working to prevent dehydration before, during and after you drink is helpful. This can simply be water, though. Briny liquids and foods may help with rehydration, too, but feel free to substitute Gatorade for the same effect.
Intravenous intervention. The most outlandish option is a service that will come to your house — for a $200-and-up fee — and administer an IV drip with calcium and Vitamins B and C. Perhaps not surprisingly, this idea originated in Vegas. Experts say: Many doctors, the New York Times reported, aren’t impressed.
One thing all doctors and wise people everywhere recommend as a hangover panacea: Not drinking. But, sometimes that’s not much fun. I have a college reunion coming up, and rumor has is it Saturday will include a long day on a “party barge” on the lake…
What is your go-to hangover remedy? We’d love to know.
(Photo by J Danielle Wehunt for Stocksy United.)