Hangovers wreak major havoc on your body. Even after the alcohol clears your system, they can stick around eight to 24 hours, depending on how much you drink.
Researchers remain far less certain about how to beat a hangover. A systematic review in the British Medical Journal looked at eight randomized control trials about preventing and/ or treating hangovers.
“No compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover,” researchers wrote. “The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is to practice abstinence or moderation.”
Dr. Joel Kahn echoes that idea when he says, “It's obvious that the perfect hangover therapy is to not drink at all or to excess, and many will successfully choose this path.”
Yet even the most logical of us sometimes stray. Indulge too heavily and you’re going to reap the nasty consequences, but these 10 strategies can lessen the brutal aftermath of a besties’ booze-fest night:
Kahn notes among major hangover culprits, dehydration reigns supreme. You’re probably already dehydrated before you take that first shot, so alcohol merely compounds that effect. Simply put, alcohol pairs best with water.
Studies show magnesium can relieve various kinds of headaches. “Often depleted by alcohol use, magnesium-rich foods and supplements may help you avoid headaches,” confirms Kahn. If supplements aren’t your thing, consider a magnesium-rich Epsom salt soak to melt away some of that hangover pain.
3. Coconut water
When you drink, you pee a lot. You sweat. You might even – eek! – vomit. Besides dehydration, alcohol triggers electrolyte imbalances. Coconut water's electrolytes replenish the body's water levels after dehydration.
Among its many roles, dietary protein helps balance blood sugar and protects your immune system. Without sufficient protein, your liver can’t detoxify, which can spell real problems after a hangover. If the thought of food makes you want to hurl, whip up a protein shake with plenty of antioxidant-rich foods like berries, flaxseed, and raw kale.
5. Sulfur-rich foods
This mineral plays a big role in detoxification, and your liver could use all the help it can get after a heavy night’s drinking. Eggs, garlic, onions, and cruciferous veggies are among your best sulfur-rich rock stars.
Alcohol impairs sleep, and even though you finally crashed at 2am, you’re completely awake five hours later. “Although a drink before bed may help you fall asleep,” says Dr. Jonny Bowden in The Most Effective Ways on Earth to Boost Your Energy, “a few hours later it has the opposite effect, and part of your brain thinks it’s party time (though the part that’s paying attention to our headache may not agree).” Sleep deprivation only exacerbates a hangover’s misery, so aim for at least eight hours’ sleep after you’ve had a liquid night out.
7. Green tea
Among the zillion other things it’s good for, green tea benefits your overworking liver. Green also contains a calming amino acid called theanine, which studies show can benefit mental alertness, something you could probably use with a hangover.
Researchers found not only does coffee provide a hefty pick-me-up after a rough night partying; it can also inhibit an enzyme that contributes to liver damage, heart disease, and diabetes. For the record, it took five or more cups to get these benefits, and at that point you might be so jittery you forget you even had a hangover.
9. Alkalizing green drink
"One of the easiest and simplest things you can do is to start your day with something that is alkaline, detoxifying, very nourishing, easy to digest, and easy to make,” writes Krystelle Fournier. “And this green smoothie is all that, and it’s easy to make and tastes surprisingly delicious!” I can vouch this smoothie is the second-best hangover cure right after not drinking at all.