The Research Doesn't Back Up Your Hangover Cure

But that's partly because the studies to date are so mediocre, researchers found
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2022 10:55 AM CST
The Research Doesn't Back Up Your Hangover Cure
Results of the review of hangover-remedy studies weren't encouraging.   (Getty Images)

Tomato juice, kombucha, greasy eggs and ketchup: Whatever method you swears cures your hangover, well, there's not much science to back you up. So found a review of 21 placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials that examined various hangover "cures." The upshot: The research that's been done so far is pretty shoddy, and no clear winner emerged, though there were a few promising contenders. Gizmodo reports that the studies reviewed looked at alleged hangover remedies like curcumin (which gives the spice turmeric its color), red ginseng, NSAID painkillers, probiotics, and pear juice. Of the ones studied, only three were worthy of a follow-up study, per the research published in Addiction: clove extract, tolfenamic acid (an NSAID painkiller sold in the UK), and pyritinol (an analog of vitamin B6).

Those studies found a statistically significant drop in the overall hangover symptom score for those remedies when compared with placebos: For clove extract, it was 42.5% vs. 19.0% for the placebo; for tolfenamic acid, 84.0% vs. 50.0%; and for pyritinol, 34.1% vs. 16.2%. But "all studied tolerability outcomes were of low or very low quality," per the study. For instance, nearly 40% of the studies didn't involve women, and none included people over age 65, reports the Guardian. And the designs were all over the place: Only 25% of them involved more than 30 people; some studies incorporated food, some didn't; and different alcohols were used. Surprisingly, the researchers couldn't find evidence of placebo-controlled randomized trials that looked at go-to hangover remedies like aspirin.

The National Post flags some interesting lines in the study: Dr. Emmert Roberts and his King's College London colleagues define a hangover as "the combination of negative mental and physical symptoms which can be experienced following a single episode of alcohol consumption starting when blood alcohol concentration approaches zero." Yes, approaching zero: For somewhat unknown reasons, our hangover symptoms tend to hit their worst when our blood alcohol drops to zero, which the paper notes "is different from other poisons." (More hangover cures stories.)

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