One of the benefits of not drinking alcohol at all is avoiding the dreaded hangover the next day. If you find yourself with a hangover despite your best intentions, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms. While there is no true hangover cure, we’ve rounded up 7 helpful ideas.
How do you cure a hangover fast? There is no one way to cure a hangover fast, but there are ways to ease hangover symptoms, like drinking plenty of water and getting extra rest.
There are also tactics proven not to work in curing your hangover. We’ll be looking at what does and doesn’t work, plus evidence-based hangover tips to get you back on track to feeling like yourself again.
What is a hangover?
A hangover is the result of too much alcohol in the body. What your body considers too much can vary. Someone who doesn’t drink much can have a hangover from a glass or two of wine, even if they weren’t intoxicated.
Hangovers are about how your body reacts as it returns to blood alcohol levels of zero.
Drinking too much generally can disrupt sleep, upset your stomach, and lead to dehydration, all contributing factors to the worst symptoms of hangovers. It’s a big reason why so many explore the sober curious lifestyle.
Some common hangover symptoms include:
- Dry mouth and excessive thirst
- Muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- High blood pressure
- Sensitivity to light and sound
How do you stop feeling hungover? To stop feeling hungover, try rehydrating your body and consuming healthy foods the morning after. These 2 steps can start to alleviate the worst symptoms. There isn’t one surefire hangover cure, though, that will stop a hangover immediately.
Hangover cures: fact or fiction?
Once you’ve set yourself up for a hangover, there isn’t much you can do to stop it from happening. All you can do is alleviate the symptoms. All those tips and tricks you hear over breakfast the morning after may feel like common wisdom, but they’re more like old wives’ tales.
We’ll list our best alternatives for a hangover cure, but there are a few common misconceptions about hangovers that we need to debunk first.
First, there are rhyme variations that go something like this: “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear. Beer before liquor, never been sicker.” That’s not the whole story, though.
The amount you drink overall matters much more than the order you drink your alcoholic beverages.
Here are a few other common myths that we can get out of the way:
- Eating before bed is a placebo. This won’t do much other than give you a stomachache after a night of drinking. A meal before your first cocktail is more likely to have an impact, and carbs will absorb alcohol better than fats.
- Taking painkillers before bed isn’t a good idea, either. If you choose acetaminophen, liver damage is possible. You should never mix painkillers with alcohol.
- Don’t try drinking more alcohol. There’s no evidence that drinking more alcohol the following day or indulging in the “hair of the dog” will do anything but prolong your hangover. The practice actually promotes unhealthy drinking habits. Skip the Bloody Mary at brunch!
Now that we know what to avoid when battling hangover symptoms, let’s unpack some ideas that can truly make an impact.
The 7 Best Home Remedies For A Hangover
From getting your body rehydrated to supplements proven to ease hangover symptoms, there are things you can do to help. Though we haven’t found a cure, you’ll likely feel better after these gentle hangover remedies.
What are the best cures for a hangover? These 7 ideas are the closest things to a hangover cure:
- Get hydrated!
- Eat a light breakfast.
- Take an anti-inflammatory.
- Try red ginseng tea.
- Increase your antioxidant intake.
- Sip caffeine.
- Get some rest.
Option 1: Get Hydrated
Drinking alcohol can cause mild dehydration, as alcohol is a diuretic. You’ll want to replace those liquids by drinking water before going to bed, then having a glass of water right after you wake up.
Beverages with electrolytes like Gatorade, Pedialyte, sports drinks, or even pickle juice may also be helpful, especially if you’ve vomited after drinking. Vomiting can lead to moderate or even severe dehydration, as well as the loss of valuable minerals like potassium.
It’s essential to take your hydration seriously after too much alcohol consumption. Drinking more water is the easiest way to replenish your hydration levels.
Option 2: Eat A Light Breakfast
A greasy breakfast the morning after a night of drinking may sound like a good idea, but you’re putting your already sensitive stomach at more risk for heartburn and indigestion.
Alcohol has the added effect of irritating gastric symptoms, so you’ll want to be gentle with your diet the day after. Don’t add to the empty calories you drank the night before with a burger and shakes after a night of drinking.
Instead, try fruit, oatmeal, and other healthy options to get your body and your blood sugar levels back on track. Carbohydrates are better for stabilizing your blood sugar than fats, but if you’re feeling up to it, a light breakfast with bacon, eggs, and oddly enough broccoli, may help. These foods are high in the amino acid cysteine, which can help balance the body's excess acetaldehyde (the byproduct your liver creates from alcohol).
If you’re feeling nauseous, try a smoothie. You’ll be hydrating and taking in healthy vitamins and minerals.
Option 3: Take Anti-Inflammatory Medicine
Alcohol can cause your blood vessels to dilate. As they constrict the next day, you may experience a classic hangover symptom: the headache.
You never want to mix any over-the-counter pain reliever with alcohol. You should also avoid acetaminophen medicationslike Tylenol before or after drinking, as they can cause liver damage.
That said, taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or other NSAIDs is generally safe to treat a hangover headache the following day in healthy adults.
Don’t take more than the recommended dose, and avoid anti-inflammatories on an empty stomach. As always, consult your healthcare provider for additional medical advice when taking any medications.
Option 4: Try Red Ginseng Tea
What do you drink to cure a hangover? Red ginseng tea. While it won’t “cure” a hangover, a small study looking at hangovers in men found that red ginseng can help reduce the symptoms of severe hangovers. Drinking red ginseng tea showed both short- and long-term positive effects on how alcohol is metabolized in the body.
As with any herbal supplement, make sure to talk to your doctor before adding ginseng into your diet, as it can interact with other medications, especially in diabetes management.
Generally, most supplements won’t hurt the cause when it comes to dealing with hangovers. A healthy diet is always best, though, and will boost your immune system to fight the effects of alcohol next time around.
Option 5: Increase Your Antioxidant Intake
While an antioxidant boost the morning after drinking won’t be a quick hangover fix, it can make you feel better overall. Try a few antioxidant-rich foods in a smoothie if your stomach is feeling upset.
Foods rich in antioxidants include:
- Berries, especially blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries
- Nuts, especially walnuts and pecans
- Dark chocolate
These are some of the best foods to make a part of your everyday diet. They can do wonders for your health and lessen hangover effects in some cases.
Option 6: Sip Caffeine, In Moderation
Coffee and caffeinated tea shouldn’t replace water when you’re trying to rehydrate after heavy drinking. Nevertheless, the caffeine in both may help give you an energy boost to fight hangover fatigue, as well as alleviate headache symptoms.
If you’re used to coffee or tea in the morning, sip your usual amount while supplementing your beverage intake with water and electrolytes. Otherwise, you may add a caffeine withdrawal headache on top of hangover symptoms.
Those who aren’t used to caffeine should proceed with caution. Limit your caffeine to a few ounces in the morning until you see how your body reacts.
Option 7: Get Some Rest
You’re likely feeling some fatigue the night after too many alcoholic beverages, on top of possible dehydration. Alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle, among many other effects. Avoid exercise and get some rest.
If you’re able to, take a nap the next day to counteract the effects of disrupted sleep the night before. While there is no fast-acting hangover cure, time is often the best solution to improve your symptoms.
If you must consume alcohol, but would like a hangover-free morning, you will have to travel to Sydney, Australia. In Sydney, engineer-turned-bar-owner Colin Dahl has developed what he claims to be hangover-free alcohol.
He claims his spirits and wines are infused with additional antioxidants to help counter the hangover effects. There hasn’t been any scientific research into this creation, so it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. We maintain that the best hangover-free alcohol is non-alcoholic wine and spirits, like Surely’s sparkling rosé.
How To Prevent Getting A Hangover
You already know there’s no such thing as a real hangover cure; only ways to alleviate symptoms once a hangover has begun.
How can you prevent a hangover? The only way to prevent a hangover is to avoid drinking alcohol altogether. (We know some delicious alcohol-free wines to keep the taste and avoid the hangover!)
To prevent the worst hangover symptoms, though:
- Eat a meal before drinking. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach will not only irritate your stomach but will also likely lead to worse hangovers.
- Choose liquor wisely. Clear liquors like gin and vodka tend to cause fewer side effects like hangovers. Darker liquors like whiskey and tequila contain congeners, chemical compounds that can mess with your body’s physiology, on top of the ethanol in alcohol.
- Drink less red wine. While red wine boasts resveratrol, which is linked to several health benefits, it can increase your hangover severity if consumed in excess.
- Drink water between alcoholic drinks. It’ll help keep you hydrated and is a way to drink less alcohol overall.
- Consume alcohol in moderation. Hangovers result from too much alcohol, so moderate drinking may be able to stave them off/
To prevent hangovers altogether:
- Quit drinking. If you don’t drink, you won’t have hangovers. The best hangover cure is as simple as that.
Switch to alcohol-free wine. You can still socialize and have fun without alcohol. A delicious alternative can help you keep the flavor of alcohol while losing the next-day symptoms.
The Bottom Line On Hangover Cures
There’s no magic hangover cure, though you can take care of some symptoms with these 7 science-backed remedies. If you find yourself battling the effects of hangovers on a regular basis, it may be time to make some changes.
Take control of your hangovers by looking into alternatives to drinking, whether that’s cutting out alcohol altogether or introducing alcohol-removed wines into the rotation.
- Alcohol’s Effects on Health: Hangovers
- Electrolyzed-reduced water inhibits acute ethanol-induced hangovers in Sprague-Dawley rats
- Alcohol hangover: mechanisms and mediators
- Physical and psychomotor functioning of females the morning after consuming low to moderate quantities of beer
- Alcohol and Medication Interactions
- Red ginseng relieves the effects of alcohol consumption and hangover symptoms in healthy men: a randomized crossover study
- Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health
- The Role of Alcohol Metabolism in the Pathology of Alcohol Hangover
- Coffee and its consumption: benefits and risks
- Hangover and fatigue: effects of Robuvit® supplementation. A pilot registry study