People have been getting drunk for a few millennia now, but scientists are still unsure about what causes the hangovers that plague us the morning after. Their best guess is that it is some combination of dehydration, the chemicals that metabolize out of the alcohol, and some bad luck. The biggest issue with not knowing the exact cause is the fact that there is no way to develop a cure.
Another issue is that there is no way to test all the remedies properly. During a study conducted in 2005, researchers went through more than 200 papers on hangover remedies. Out of those 200+ experiments, only eight of them were adequately performed. This means that they were randomized and controlled properly. This does not mean a cure does not exist, only that it has not been found yet.
One sure fire way to avoid a hangover is not to drink at all, but where is the fun in that? This is why people have tried to find something that makes the whole ordeal at least tolerable. Here are a few tricks that may make the morning after a bender that much more pleasant.
The first of many is eating asparagus. The thinking behind this remedy is that asparagus contains a plethora of amino acids and minerals that are good for the liver. Scientists tested this on cells in a Petri dish, but people can test this out by eating asparagus before a night out on the town. Increasing your vitamin A and C levels is always a good idea.
Drinking smarter is also an option, especially when it comes to picking the beverage for the night. Darker spirits like bourbon contain congeners like methanol that break down into formaldehyde and formic acid, and those two compounds make the hangover that much worse.
Consuming vitamins on a daily basis is also a great way to mitigate much of the damage that alcohol inflicts on the body. For example, vitamin B helps the liver with breaking down alcohol and with healing any nerve damage. Taking a b-100 supplement and eating food like meat, eggs, and fish that happens to be high in vitamin B is also great. Eating healthy is beneficial in the long run, but it also helps with a hangover much more than any supplement does.
An unconventional way to cure a hangover is to drink specific types of soda drinks. A study from China revealed that Sprite boosts the activity of an enzyme which is excellent at breaking down acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is an especially vile compound that causes the headaches that occur during a hangover. Unfortunately, the research has not been conducted on a living, drinking being so there is no way to tell how effective it might be for humans.
Dissolved oxygen has also shown some promise as a hangover remedy. Oxygen is another compound which makes breaking down alcohol easier on the liver. Oxygen also has the ability to break down many of the toxins that are responsible for hangovers. In Korea, there are alcoholic beverages that claim they have a higher oxygen level. This is possible since oxygen can be added to alcoholic drinks in the same way that it is added to the carbonated ones.
Lastly, but most importantly, it is imperative that people stay hydrated while drinking. Alcohol is a diuretic, and that means more trips to the bathroom which makes drinking water that much more critical. Electrolytes are also lost while urinating so sports drinks might be an even better liquid to consume between shots/glasses of alcohol.
To summarize, there are various ways to lessen the effects of the dreaded hangover, but there is still space for scientists to develop an out and out cure.
Alexandra grew up dreaming of being a great science explorer. She always wanted to travel the world and explore some of the greatest science mysteries of the times. After high school, she studied chemistry in college and spent most of her summers working on research projects alongside her professors. It was there that Alexandra got clarity about what she wanted to do in the future. She now works full time in science research at a teaching university and is planning to go to medical school in a few years. She likes to stay up-to-date with the latest discoveries in science and share her love for science through her writing.