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Why It's So Hard to Cure Your Hangover, According to Experts

Why It's So Hard to Cure Your Hangover, According to Experts
From TIME - December 31, 2017

Ask 10 people how they cure a hangover, and youll likely get 10 different answers.

Some go for greasy food and hair of the dog; others swig Pedialyte or Gatorade; and a motivated few hit the gym to sweat it out. But do any of these hangover remedies actually work?

Probably not, says Dr. Ed Boyer, a medical toxicologist at Bostons Brigham and Womens Hospital. I dont think anybody can really tell you with a great degree of honesty what causes a hangover, he says, adding that theories run the gamut from dehydration to electrolyte imbalance to a buildup of alcohol byproducts. The bottom line is nobody knows for sure what causes it, so we dont have a good cure.

Nothing treats the entire hangover, agrees Dr. David Aizenberg, an associate professor of clinical medicine at Penn Medicine. Hangovers affect nearly every organ system in your body, from your gastrointestinal tract to your brain to your heart. So theres no magic cure where one remedy will get rid of every single hangover symptom, Aizenberg says. (Except, of course, drinking in moderation to avoid a hangover in the first place.)

That said, Aizenberg says certain remedies may improve certain symptoms. Here are the hangover cures that might have you feeling better, and the ones that are just myths.

Drinking water before bed

Hydration can reduce dehydration and the resulting headaches and dizziness, Aizenberg says, but doctors arent sure whether chugging water before bed will make any difference in the morning.

Thats because heavy drinking throws off the bodys levels of antidiuretic hormone, which typically regulates your water balance.

Thats why a lot of people pee a lot when theyre drinking, because that regulatory system is going haywire, Aizenberg explains. Its unclear whether [having water] after drinking, before drinking or when people have a hangover is the best strategy, he says.

Drinking Pedialyte or Gatorade

Pedialyte has a cult following for its alleged hangover-busting abilities, and while it may reduce symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and dehydration, Aizenberg says its not any different from other electrolyte-rich beverages, which help the body recoup lost nutrients such as calcium, potassium and sodium.

Theres no magic about Pedialyte. Its just all the electrolytes that potentially were lost during and after the drinking period, Aizenberg says.

Gatorade, which also contains electrolytes, likely does the same thing, though Aizenberg recommends watering it down since its high in sugar.

Sweating it out

Exercise may make you feel better, Boyer says, simply because youre out doing something.

Hair of the dog

Eating greasy food

Using IV bags

Taking painkillers before bed

Consuming red ginseng

The bottom line

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