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7 Ways To Combat a Hangover

Woman in bed with a headache with glasses of alcohol blurry in the foreground.

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Key Takeaways

  • Hangovers happen if you drink more alcohol than your body can tolerate. The symptoms include fatigue, poor sleep, nausea, headache, and excessive thirst.
  • While there is no magic cure for a hangover, there are some potential remedies that are a low-risk way to minimize your symptoms or make it less likely that you'll get a hangover.

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to a hangover the next day. While the threshold of what is considered to be "too much alcohol" varies from person to person, there are steps that you can take to lessen the potential for symptoms related to alcohol over-consumption, such as fatigue, nausea, and headaches.

The best way to prevent a hangover is to avoid drinking more alcohol than your body can tolerate. There is no magic hangover "cure," but there are some remedies that can help alleviate your symptoms.

7 Hangover Remedies to Try

You might have heard suggestions like a late-night fast food run or a trendy remedy like activated charcoal to deal with a hangover. You won't find those tips on the list, but here are seven science-backed ways to lessen the symptoms of a hangover.

Mango

Close up of whole mangoes.
Alexander Schimmeck/Unsplash

The tasty orange fruit, whether off the tree or from your local grocery store, might offer some hangover protection. Both the flesh and peel of the mango appear to decrease plasma alcohol levels after consumption.

Whether you are enjoying mangoes in a smoothie, on a salad, or diced on their own, snacking on the fruit might feel better if you find yourself waking up with a hangover.

Ginger

A cup of ginger tea with lemon and someone's hand on the side of the cup.
Dominik Martin/Unsplash

Ginger contains natural antioxidants—many of which are thought to help control the oxidative stress induced by alcohol. It's also a popular nausea remedy. Since an upset stomach can accompany a hangover, try sipping on ginger tea or chewing on pickled ginger for some tummy support.

Hydration

White woman with long blonde hair drinking from a glass of water.
Daria Shevtsova/Pexels

Alcohol causes your body to produce more urine, which can cause dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration can include headache, lethargy, and excessive thirst.

Losing water and electrolytes like potassium and sodium through urine can cause an electrolyte imbalance. Staying hydrated (preferably with some electrolytes, such as an oral rehydration solution) helps replenish your body.

Your hydration efforts should actually start before you begin drinking alcohol. Being (and staying) hydrated as you drink is your best bet to preventing dehydration.

Maple Sap

Maple tree tap
 Onfokus/Getty

Tapping a maple tree will give you a natural liquid called sap that is packed with electrolytes, prebiotics, and antioxidants. Many people boil the sap to make maple syrup, but it's healthy and delicious to drink on its own pre-boiling (and you can buy it in this form at the store). Having a bit to sip on before you go out might help stave off a hangover.

A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine found that giving rats maple sap (called "maple water") 30 minutes before they were given alcohol reduced the rats' blood concentrations of alcohol compared to the rats who did not consume the water.

While human studies would be necessary to draw conclusions about a relationship between maple water and hangovers, drinking sap is a potential hangover remedy that has little risk. Plus, it's delicious!

Red Ginseng 

Dried ginseng with capsules.
 beemore/Getty

While most of the data is based on small sample sizes or animal subjects, taking red ginseng as you consume alcohol has shown promise for hangover relief.

In one randomized crossover study, researchers investigated the effects of red ginseng on relieving alcohol and hangover symptoms in 25 healthy men. The men who took ginseng had decreased blood alcohol levels and hangover symptoms compared to the controls, suggesting that red ginseng could have a positive effect.

Prickly Pear

Ripe prickly pear on a pink background.
Yulia Reznikov/Getty

The gorgeous red fruit found on the nopal cactus might have potential hangover-relief powers. Also known as a cactus pear, tuna fruit, or sabras, prickly pears are a sweet fruit that are quick and easy to snack on.

Research has shown that the fruit might reduce symptoms of a hangover, including nausea and dry mouth, by inhibiting inflammation. According to the 2004 study, eating prickly pear might cut hangover severity in half.

L-Cysteine Supplements

Close up of an array of supplement pills.
 ready made/Getty

Some research has shown that supplements with the amino acid L-Cysteine might offer some hangover relief. According to one small study, people who took 1,200 milligrams of L-Cysteine experienced fewer headaches and less nausea than they typically did during a hangover.

As with many other “hangover remedy” studies, the data from the L-Cysteine study is not extremely strong. The study was also funded by a company that makes L-Cysteine supplements, meaning it could have been biased.

Hangover Recovery

If you do get a hangover, know that the unpleasant symptoms won't last forever. You can also learn from the experience and take steps to try to prevent a hangover, like staying hydrated, the next time you go out for cocktails or have wine with dinner.

Remember that there is no guaranteed way to cure or prevent a hangover. Also, each person's alcohol metabolism is different, and more research is needed to determine whether any hangover remedies work. That said, there is little risk associated with enjoying a mango or drinking extra fluids.

If you find that you are experiencing frequent hangovers, consider talking to your healthcare provider about your alcohol use.

What This Means For You

While there's no magic cure for a hangover and no guaranteed strategy for preventing one, there are some things you can do to lessen the chance of getting a hangover and relieving your symptoms if you do.

Most hangover remedies are not backed by strong scientific evidence, but they are low-risk. The best way to avoid a hangover is to not drink alcohol at all.

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