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The Top 5 Hangover Cures (Backed By Science)

Here's how to get through the holiday season without suffering.

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Marta Monteiro
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Hair of the dog, hot onion soup and cucumber juice are all popular hangover cures here and around the world. But the morning after a big night out, you really don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen experimenting with a hangover trick that may work. So we’re turning to science to provide us with the best proven hangover remedies. But before we stir up the research, we’re going to explain the science behind your actual hangover. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a few factors that can cause a hangover. For example, alcohol:

  • Makes your body produce more urine, which is the dehydrating effect that causes headaches and lightheadedness.
  • Increases stomach acid and delays stomach emptying, which leads to vomiting.
  • Lowers your blood sugar, making you feel weak, tired and shaky.
  • Expands your blood vessels, which is the reason why we get headaches.

While the only way to avoid a hangover entirely is to not drink, there are ways to lessen those hangover symptoms.

Bump up your sugar levels

Science says: Low blood sugar levels may usher in the headache, fatigue and weakness you are likely experiencing. That’s because the alcohol prevents your body from controlling your blood sugar levels, leading to low blood sugar. This means your brain is trying to function without enough sugar (fuel), and it causes you physical pain. 

Cure your hangover: A study in Oxford Academic found that L-cysteine, an amino acid, will help with nausea, anxiety and headaches associated with your hangover. This ingredient is found in eggs, dairy and nuts. Having a hearty breakfast of eggs or even some cereal should bump up your sugar levels and add L-cysteine immediately into your system. 

Sleep it off 

Science says: You may feel like you passed out after a night of drinking, but a study found that alcohol is linked with poor sleep quality. Poor sleep quality correlates to headaches, fatigue and plenty of other symptoms that you’re probably associating with your hangover.

Cure your hangover: Go to sleep. A study found that university students who got more than seven hours of sleep after a night of drinking had a less severe hangover than those who had less sleep. 

Drink water 

Science says: Alcohol dehydrates your body. It slows down your natural release of vasopressin, which is the hormone that decreases the amount of urine made by your kidneys. Vomiting, sweating and diarrhea are signs that you’re very dehydrated. A study found that if you drink water while you drink alcohol (aim for one cup of water per alcoholic drink), you won’t be as dehydrated the following morning, so your hangover symptoms will be less severe. 

Cure your hangover: Forgot to hydrate while you were drinking? Sip water slowly and you’ll find relief. (Is there anything that water doesn’t cure?)

Take aspirin or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug

Science says: To cure the symptoms of your hangover, you can take aspirin or ibuprofen, which should relieve your headache and shakiness. 

Cure your hangover: Avoid Tylenol, as any remaining alcohol in your system could accentuate the Tylenol’s effects on your liver. Aspirin is totally fine.

Have a cuppa 

Science says: The combo of caffeine and over-the-counter inflammatory drugs (aspirin and ibuprofin) are the best ways to cure a hangover, according to a study by researchers from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. These block the effects of acetate, which lead to the formation of adenosine, which ushers in headaches. The caffeine should also help your life in the long run. A study shows that drinking two cups of coffee daily reduces your risk of developing cirrhosis by 44 percent.

Cure your hangover: Three or four hours after drinking, drink some coffee or even take Excedrin with caffeine. Not a coffee drinker? Black tea works, too.