Everyone has their own little hangover cure don’t they. There must be thousands of them out there, but how many actually work? The truth is different people probably need different things to help them, depending on their individual constitution.
However there are a few reliable cures that seem to work for everyone. One of the main causes of a hangover is dehydration (largely responsible for your headache), so clearly the best thing to prevent or cure them is rehydration – plenty of water or fruit juice (as that often contains anti-oxidants too).
Sugar filled soft drinks like cola are NOT a good idea, because although they’ll make you feel good temporarily by boosting your blood sugar, you’ll very quickly feel even worse again as you suffer from the insulin crash afterwards.
Having said that, caffeine can often help with a headache and get you feeling sharper again, it depends on your preference. Unfortunately most caffeinated drinks are also diuretic, meaning they will dehydrate you even more. Part of your rehydration might perhaps include essential electrolytes too (Calcium, Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium etc).
Another cause of hangover is acetaldehyde, the toxic chemical produced when alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down alcohol in the liver. This is what causes the ‘poisoned’ feeling. There are a couple of things which work quite well to mop this up – the first is an enzyme called cysteine, which is found in large quantities in eggs. So that’s breakfast sorted out. You can also buy N-acetyl cysteine as a supplement in health food shops. The second thing which mops up acetaldehyde quite well is probiotics – the healthy bacteria found in yoghurt. However perhaps the best way to take this is in capsule form where it’s far more concentrated. A few of these before bedtime can really help you.
Most alcoholic drinks will leave you with low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) by morning, so its important to get that back up again in a slow, stable way. Which means complex carbohydrates as opposed to simple ones. What I mean is whole grains, like wholemeal bread or muesli, vegetables and fruit (particularly bananas to boost your potassium levels again). Carbs like simple sugars, white pasta or potatoes will not help.
The nausea can be eased very effectively with ginger or peppermint tea, and again with those rehydration salts (or electrolytes).
Painkillers are obviously quite tempting, but paracetamol causes further toxic strain on the liver and kidneys, and ibuprofen can irritate the stomach. So aspirin is probably the safest analgesic for a hangover.
Finally you might well benefit from some B vitamin supplements – to calm your central nervous system (responsible for the tremors, sweats and anxiety), but these will tend to have a more long term effect rather than being a short term cure.
No doubt you’ve got plenty of suggestions for your own hangover cures too, so lets hear what works for you in the comments…