Next time you're fumbling for a hangover cure, you might want to reach for a bottle of soda. Researchers in China have found that Sprite beats a pain-relieving Chinese hemp tea at giving you a post-alcohol lift. Why? Popular Science begins the explanation with a primer: Your body processes the ethanol in booze into acetaldehyde, the chemical that gives you the terrible hangover headache via an enzyme called ADH. Acetaldehyde is then turned into acetate with the help of an enzyme known as ALDH. Unlike acetaldehyde, acetate doesn't make your head hurt; it might even increase your energy.
So what does all this have to do with Sprite? In the study, the soda increased ALDH activity, meaning the headache-inducing acetaldehyde is more quickly processed into the helpful acetate. The tea, on the other hand, boosted ADH and inhibited ALDH, meaning ethanol was quickly turned into acetaldehyde, which then stayed in the body longer—not a pleasant situation. (Read more Sprite stories.)