H2O is a must to cure a hangover. As you likely know from the frequent trips to the bathroom during a night of debauchery, alcohol is a diuretic and can cause dehydration. Before falling into bed, down 16 to 20 ounces of water, says Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D., a consultant in addiction psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic. And the next time you go out, he recommends ordering a glass of water with every beer—and alternate between the two to replace lost fluids as you go. (Did you know it’s also possible to drink too much water? Find out: Are You Drinking Too Much Water?)
“Even though the diuretic effect of alcohol may cause the body to lose some electrolytes, it’s not so much that you need to replace them right away,” says Samir Zakhari, Ph.D., director of the Division of Metabolism and Health Effects at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. And research has shown Gatorade is no better for a hangover than water from your tap, so save your money.
Lots of people—hungover or not—use a cup of joe to wake up and feel alert at work. But a trip to Starbucks won’t give you lasting benefits, and caffeine can both treat and cause headaches and migraines, so this one is a personal preference. If you do down a cup to cure a hangover, be sure to drink water, too, since studies suggest caffeine causes dehydration. Here’s How to Brew the Best Coffee At Home.
More Alcohol (“Hair of the Dog”)
“Bad idea,” “It will provide a numbing effect, but all you’re doing is prolonging the inevitable, and it will likely make your headache worse.” Another reason to avoid cracking open a cold one to cure a hangover: Experts agree that if you use this “cure,” the risk of abuse increases and could lead to alcohol dependency.
Toast or Crackers
Remember when your mom gave you toast as a kid when you couldn’t keep anything down? This is good advice for adults who’ve spent the night hugging the porcelain throne, too. While no food can halt the roller coaster in your stomach, carbs can help bring your blood sugar levels back up the morning after, Dr. Hall-Flavin says. Normally when blood sugar levels dip, your liver reacts by producing more glucose from stored carbs. But if you’ve been drinking too much, your liver is busy metabolizing the alcohol and can’t handle the extra work, so your blood sugar levels stay down, and you can feel irritable and tired.
What you eat after drinking doesn’t matter—it’s what you eat before all those Jagerbombs that can help lessen the hangover the next day. Food helps slow the absorption of alcohol, and the longer it takes the alcohol to reach your blood stream, the longer it is until you become intoxicated. Need suggestions for your hungover trip to Denny’s? Here are 13 Ways to Eat Healthy at the Breakfast Diner.
Ease a pounding head with a pill (or two, depending on the recommended dosage), but stick to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen), not acetaminophen (Tylenol): “While it’s OK for a headache, when combined with a liver that’s working overtime to metabolize alcohol, it can cause liver damage or be deadly,” says Dena Davidson, Ph.D., former associate professor of psychiatry at Indiana University School of Medicine.
If you normally take a multi, go ahead, but no studies have found that any particular vitamins do anything to cure a hangover. And one night of intoxication isn’t enough to throw off the levels of nutrients in your body to the point where you need to worry.
One drink—a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor—is metabolized by your body in about an hour, so the whole “sweat it out” theory to cure a hangover is