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Medical Myths: You can cure a hangover

Medical Myths: You can cure a hangover

I know, I know, it's the worst news after a hard night's drinking. Dr Max Pemberton explains why this, unfortunately, just isn't true. But is there any hope?

Where did the myth come from?

Anyone who’s had a hangover will know how truly soul-destroying it is. There’s nothing else like it on earth. So is it any wonder there’s a slew of home remedies and old wives’ tales about how to cure it? From orange juice to Marmite through to a fried breakfast or a raw egg, the alleged cures are endless. 

But I’ve got bad news for all of you who have over-indulged: despite thousands of years of human beings consuming alcohol—despite all the incredible discoveries—we’ve yet to find an effective cure for a hangover.


What's the truth?

Can't cure a hangover

A large randomised trial looked at a number of remedies, from foods and complementary therapies through to prescribed medication. Nothing was shown definitively to work.

Hangovers are actually caused by a number of factors, including dehydration (as alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing fluid to be excreted). Certainly ensuring you’re properly hydrated will help, as will taking painkillers such as paracetamol. 

Read more medical myths: Urine should be almost clear


So there's no hope?

The first thing to remember is that hangovers do pass. Your liver works incredibly hard to detoxify the alcohol you’ve consumed, and gradually your body will excrete all the toxins and you’ll rehydrate yourself.

Drinking on a full stomach may reduce the rate at which alcohol is absorbed, meaning that your body is given extra time to deal with it. However, a hangover is your body’s way of telling you that it’s struggling to deal with your over-indulgence. Listen to your body and next time limit the amount of alcohol you consume.

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