Although scientists say there is no such thing as a hangover cure, that doesn’t mean hangover supplements are all a total scam. Hangover treatments are available out there for morning recovery. It can help mitigate the headache, nausea, and other symptoms you feel after a night out.
And though there is some science to back up the claims of these hangover remedies, it can be hard to know which of these hangover cures is the right fit for you — and which ones are backed by solid research.
Below we dive into some of the most popular hangover supplement ingredients on the market today.
Contrary to popular knowledge, hangovers are not entirely about dehydration. But the main issues are inflammation and oxidative stress. And it's much easier to prevent a hangover than it is to deal with it the next morning.
Because alcohol is diuretic, you lose a lot of vitamins and nutrients during a night on the town. The most important of which are vitamins B and C. Those people that use a vitamin B complex — a pill that includes B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin1), folic acid, B6 and B12, among others — to combat hangovers23 swear by their effectiveness4.
A 2012 research5 sent subjects a supplement and encouraged them to take a supplement containing vitamins B-1 and B-6 before and after drinking alcohol. Of the subjects who completed the study, 88 percent reported a reduction in hangover symptoms.
For centuries, people have taken ginger to reduce nausea and vomiting.
The National Institute of Health revealed6 early research that consuming a combination of ginger, tangerine pith, and brown sugar before drinking decreases nausea and vomiting. Try nibbling crystallized ginger before and after a night of drinking.
Electrolytes' primary function is to help conduct electricity in your body. They play a major role in cell functions, fluid regulation, tissue repair, and energy creation. Most importantly (at least when it comes to hangovers), they help your body retain fluids.
Alcohol is a diuretic -- a substance that dehydrates your body and causes you to urinate frequently. Many people experience dehydration when hungover, which makes it difficult for your body to flush out the toxins in alcohol. While there are other symptoms, this is the big one -- and it can lead to headaches, upset stomach, and nausea.
Because electrolytes replenish your body with the minerals you need to retain fluids and expel toxins, they're one of the most effective remedies for a hangover; especially when it's combined with plenty of water. Common electrolytes include sodium, magnesium, potassium, chloride, and calcium.
4. Dihydromyricetin (DHM)
Originally a Chinese herbal tea, Oriental Raisin tree extract has been taken for 500 years7 as a hangover remedy and headache healer in rural villages. It recently became apparent that there was real merit in DHM and its potential as a hangover cure when a UCLA scientist decided to test8 DHM in rats.
After she injected rats with a dose of alcohol equivalent to 15 to 20 beers in 2 hours by a human, they took about 70 minutes, on average, to right themselves. However, when an injection of the same amount of booze included DHM, the animals recovered their composure within just 5 minutes. Many users say Dihydromyricetin (DHM9) is the single best way to avoid a hangover.
As a matter of fact, a few hangover supplements including Purple Tree, use DHM as a key ingredient in its formula in order to reduce the negative effects of alcohol in the body10 and to protect the liver in a natural way11,12.
5. White Willow Bark
An imbalance of the immune system has been identified by scientists as a key factor in creating the dreaded hangover state13. Especially hangover symptoms like nausea, headache, and fatigue have been suggested to be mediated by changes in the immune system.
One often-used alternative for these issues is White Willow Bark extract, a natural ingredient that has been used to treat various inflammatory conditions14. The bark contains Salicin, a compound that is also known as “Nature’s Aspirin15” due to its natural anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Prickly Pear Extract
The fruit of the prickly pear cactus can be a lean, mean hangover-fighting machine - at least according to recent science. One recent study16 found that participants who took the extract (called Opuntia ficus indica) before a night out drinking said that their nausea, dry mouth, and aversion to food were all significantly less severe the next morning. Researchers believe the explanation to this is that prickly pear extract can reduce inflammation in the liver caused by a night of heavy boozing.
7. N-acetyl L-cysteine
The amino acid N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) can be found in certain protein-rich foods or in capsule form at many health food stores and pharmacies. NAC is thought to boost the production of the antioxidant glutathione and support more efficient alcohol metabolism while reducing oxidative damage to the body. It has been studied as a protective agent, rather than a quick-fix hangover supplement cure.
The results of some animal studies suggest that NAC may decrease ethanol-induced hypertension and acetaldehyde levels in rats17. Nevertheless, there’s little evidence to support NAC’s efficacy as a hangover treatment in human subjects18.
8. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is a herbal supplement that is commonly marketed as a hepatoprotective substance19. It has been studied and used off-label as a hepatoprotection in certain cases of mushroom poisoning and hepatitis with some possible benefit20.
While there’s some evidence of milk thistle’s benefit in chronic ethanol abusers, no data supports its use as a treatment for an acute ethanol-induced hangover21.
9. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal marketed to treat or prevent hangovers is generally contained in capsules and taken by mouth before consuming alcoholic beverages. Manufacturers claim that the activated charcoal in the capsules will absorb the hangover-causing congeners found in many alcoholic beverages, but there’s no definitive evidence showing it does anything to prevent the severity and/or duration of hangovers.
While in vitro studies suggest activated charcoal has the ability to absorb congeners, there’s scant evidence demonstrating its effectiveness in vivo22. It’s unlikely that the relatively small amounts of activated charcoal are effective at reducing the impurities found in various beverages. Moreover, there’s currently no conclusive evidence that says otherwise.
Caffeine is a stimulant that many use to combat the lethargy and headaches associated with hangovers. Caffeine was shown to reduce headaches associated with alcohol consumption in rats, but human studies weren’t performed23.
Although anecdotal evidence for using caffeine to combat hangover symptoms abounds, there’s little scientific evidence that conclusively shows its benefit24.
The hangover supplements and ingredients presented above may provide hangover relief for many. Still, it's important to stress that the only way to completely prevent a hangover is to abstain from alcohol consumption.
Most symptoms of hangovers are caused by inflammation of the brain. The best hangover supplements will have premium ingredients that your brain can absorb to help reduce inflammation, targeting, and eliminating those debilitating hangover symptoms.
And remember to always drink water. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, meaning that it causes the body to lose water. Although replacing the lost water won't cure a bad hangover, it will make it less painful.
- Development of riboflavin deficiency in alcohol-fed hamsters
- Vitamin deficiencies in acutely intoxicated patients in the ED
- B-Vitamins for a hangover: do they work
- A double-blind placebo-controlled study on the effects of Morning Fit on hangover symptoms after a high level of alcohol consumption in healthy volunteers
- Consumer Satisfaction and Efficacy of the Hangover Cure After-Effect
- Clinical effectiveness of KSS formula, a traditional folk remedy for alcohol hangover symptoms
- Everything Science Knows About Hangovers—And How to Cure Them
- Dihydromyricetin As a Novel Anti-Alcohol Intoxication Medication
- Dihydromyricetin Explained: What to know about DHM and hangovers
- Influence of Hovenia dulcis on alcohol concentration in blood and activity of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) of animals after drinking
- Effects of fruits of Hovenia dulcis Thunb on acute alcohol toxicity in mice
- Treatment of chronic liver injuries in mice by oral administration of ethanolic extract of the fruit of Hovenia dulcis
- Effects of alcohol hangover on cytokine production in healthy subjects
- Efficacy and Safety of White Willow Bark (Salix alba) Extracts
- Willow Bark is Nature’s Aspirin for Headache
- Effect of Opuntia ficus indica on symptoms of the alcohol hangover
- N-acetyl cysteine attenuates ethanol induced hypertension in rats
- Use of NAC in Alleviation of Hangover Symptoms
- Milk Thistle: Effects on Liver Disease and Cirrhosis and Clinical Adverse Effects: Summary
- Survival following investigational treatment of amanita mushroom poisoning: thistle or shamrock?
- Hepatoprotective effect of silymarin
- Adsorption of whisky congeners by activated charcoal. Chemical and clinical studies related to a hangover
- Acetate Causes Alcohol Hangover Headache in Rats
- Alcohol hangover: mechanisms and mediators
For a healthier day