Can Milk Thistle Prevent Hangovers?

Milk Thistle

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Key Takeaways

  • TikTokers claim that taking milk thistle supplement before you drink will leave you hangover-free the next morning.
  • Limited evidence suggests that milk thistle could protect liver function, but there’s no research that shows it can prevent or cure a hangover.
  • Experts say the best way to avoid a hangover is to limit your alcohol consumption to what your body can handle.

TikTok’s latest health hack claims that milk thistle, an herbal remedy, can prevent a hangover. But health experts say that there’s no actual evidence to prove that it works.

Milk thistle is a prickly plant with purple flowers and distinct white veins. The name was thought to have been inspired by the folklore of Virgin Mary dropping her breast milk onto the leaves.

Traditionally, people have used milk thistle to manage liver disorders and gallbladder problems. A few small studies have suggested that the herb’s extract may lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, but the results were inconclusive.

According to Sarah Anzlovar, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist who founded Sarah Gold Nutrition, some research has shown that milk thistle could protect liver function, but there’s nothing that shows it can prevent or resolve a hangover.

How Does Milk Thistle Work?

Milk thistle can be taken as a capsule, as a liquid supplement, or enjoyed as a tea. One TikToker said to take milk thistle along with vitamin B and ginger supplement before a night of drinking for a “fool-proof way to avoid hangovers.”

Milk thistle contains a compound called silymarin, which may improve liver function and manage complications from cirrhosis, the scarring of the liver. 

Research suggests that this herbal remedy may serve as an antioxidant that can inhibit the binding of toxins to the liver cell membrane receptors.

But when it comes whether milk thistle ingestion results in positive liver health outcomes, “there has been mixed evidence,” according to Sanul Corrielus, MD, MBA, FACC, a Pennsylvania-based cardiologist at Corrielus Cardiology.

“Use milk thistle with caution if you have diabetes because the supplement may lower blood sugar,” Corrielus told Verywell. “Additionally, it is feared that milk thistle could alter estrogen levels. Milk thistle should be avoided if you have breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids.”

Are There Other Hangover Cures?

No matter how many cures or remedies you try, the only guaranteed way to avoid a hangover is to not drink more alcohol than your body can safely handle. The safety and efficacy of hangover supplements are questionable at best.

A 2021 study identified 82 hangover products that mainly consisted ingredients like milk thistle extract, vitamin B, vitamin C, and N-acetylcystein (NAC), but there was no peer-reviewed human data that proves the safety or efficacy of any product.

Eating before drinking is one natural way to prevent hangovers because food helps “delay the effect of alcohol on your system,” said David Suarez, MD, a New Jersey-based physician and chief medical officer of Pure Wellness Medical.

Suarez said another way to prevent hangover is to alternate between an alcoholic drink and a soft drink to reduce the total alcohol content consumed.

What This Means For You

Despite claims on TikTok, there’s no evidence to prove that milk thistle supplements can prevent a hangover. The only way to avoid getting a hangover is to make sure you aren’t drinking more alcohol than your body can handle.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Milk thistle.

  3. Terzi F, Ciftci MK. Protective effect of silymarin on tacrolimus-induced kidney and liver toxicity. BMC Complement Med Ther. 2022;22(1):331. doi:10.1186/s12906-022-03803-x

  4. Verster JC, van Rossum CJI, Scholey A. Unknown safety and efficacy of alcohol hangover treatments puts consumers at risk. Addict Behav. 2021 Nov;122:107029. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2021.107029