Each of these symptoms stems from a different cause. Alcohol disrupts sleep and leaves you groggy in the morning. Drinking widens your blood vessels, which can trigger headaches. Alcohol also irritates the lining of your stomach, leading to nausea and sometimes diarrhea.
For almost as long as humans have had hangovers, we've tried to cure them with remedies that run the gamut from vitamin B to pickle juice. Some hangover treatments work better than others, but none is an actual cure. The only way to avoid a hangover is to limit how much you drink or avoid alcohol entirely. And if you find that hangovers are affecting your work or relationships, talk to your doctor about your drinking.
That said, a few hangover remedies can bring you relief from at least some of your symptoms. Here are a few tips to try.
A big glass of water might be the easiest hangover solution. Alcohol dehydrates you by increasing the amount of urine your kidneys make. You also lose fluid when you sweat, vomit, or have diarrhea after a night of bingeing. Dehydration causes symptoms like a dry mouth and headache.
If you drink alcohol, drink water before you go to bed. It will curb the effects of the booze in the morning. Another drink of water when you wake up will help keep you hydrated. Have a sports drink to replace the sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes you've lost from vomiting or diarrhea.
Some people say that getting fluids through an IV can help ease hangover symptoms. This method has the informal name of "drip bar." It can be pricey, and health insurance doesn't cover the bill. But there's no need to pay for IV fluids when you can drink a glass of water for free. IVs also carry risks like infection.
Korean Pear Juice
Korean pear (Asian pear) juice is an old-school hangover remedy. Research shows that drinking about 7 1/2 ounces helps lower blood alcohol levels and makes hangovers less intense. The catch is, you need to drink it before you have alcohol. Drinking it afterward won't work.
Researchers say Korean pears might work with your body’s chemistry to break down alcohol faster. Only a couple of studies have been done, which is far from proof that this hangover remedy works. But if you can find Korean pear juice at your local supermarket, it doesn't hurt to try a glass before you go out drinking.
This root has been a feature of Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Herbalists use it to treat ailments ranging from stress to asthma. In one small study, a drink made from red ginseng cut down hangover symptoms.
An unrelated herb that goes by a similar name, Siberian ginseng extract, also improved hangover symptoms like headache, dizziness, and stomachache. But the Siberian type isn't the ginseng used in Chinese medicine.
This medicinal herb grows along tropical coasts. It treats liver, kidney, and stomach ailments. In one small study, taking Phyllanthus amarus extract twice a day for 10 days helped lower blood alcohol levels, ease hangover symptoms, and improve mood in regular drinkers.
You can find extracts made from this herb online and in health food stores. Some of these products go by the name "stone breaker" herb. That’s because it may help reduce risk for kidney stones.
Alcohol lowers your blood sugar. That may explain the dizziness and shaking some people get with a hangover. Your brain needs carbs for fuel. Have a couple of slices of wheat toast or a few whole-grain crackers to bring those blood sugar levels back up to normal. You’ll give yourself an energy boost, too.
An over-the-counter pain reliever will calm a pounding headache. Just be careful how much you take. NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin irritate the stomach, which could make nausea worse. Avoid acetaminophen when you have a hangover. It can worsen the bad effects of alcohol on your liver.
'Hair of the Dog'
The idea behind this popular hangover remedy is that taking another drink will relieve the effects of the last few you had. The name comes from an old folk tale that says the way to treat a dog bite is to cover the wound with hair taken from the dog that bit you.
But the truth is drinking again will just throw your body back into the same destructive cycle without giving it time to heal. Experts don't recommend trying this method.
When it comes to getting over a hangover, time and rest may be the best medicine. Alcohol disrupts sleep. Even if you go to sleep for a few hours after a night of heavy drinking, it won’t be restful. Once you've had a glass of water and popped a pain reliever, slip back under the covers and catch up on more restorative sleep.