11 best hangover remedies
Drunk a little too much at the Christmas party? Some hangover remedies really do work
As the festive season rolls around again, we can be certain of a few things: terrible Christmas jumpers, rowdy office parties and, for many of us, hangovers.
The medical term for this self-induced hell is veisalgia, a word derived from the Norwegian word kveis, which means uneasiness following debauchery, and the Greek word algia, which means pain.
According to Dr Matthew Foxton, consultant hepatologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, hangover treatment should start before the hangover itself. “When you drink alcohol you absorb it in your stomach and food slows the rate of absorption,” he says. “Food that stays in the stomach longer – like high carbohydrate and fatty foods – will have some benefit if eaten while drinking alcohol.”
Studies have show the darker the alcohol you drink, the worse the hangover. “This is probably because of congeners – the substance that colours alcohol,” says Dr Foxton. “Red wine is worse than white wine and beer is better than wine – although that’s also because you tend to drink less because of the volume.”
Feeling rough? The following remedies should help. They were tested over the course of a few weeks, always on a work day and after a night of at least four drinks, often more…
Vichy Catalan: £1.99 for 500ml, Amazon
Drink still water when boozing (carbonated drinks speed up alcohol absorption) and in the morning switch to Vichy Catalan.
This Spanish water, which contains naturally occurring electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, has cult status among foodies who rave about its indigestion and hangover battling properties. One bottle was transformative.
There’s science to it: “Alcohol inhibits anti diuretic hormones so you pee more and lose water and electrolytes,” says Dr Foxton. “There isn’t a great deal of data on it but it probably restores your disturbances at a cellular level slightly better (than non-mineral water).”
Dioralyte: £3.79 for six sachets, Boots
If you can’t get hold of Vichy Catalan, this is the next best thing. It comes in a very palatable blackcurrant flavour.
Over Indulgence Milk Thistle Capsules: £12.99 for 30, Holland & Barrett
Milk thistle is a purple-flowering plant that has been linked to helping protect against liver damage, indigestion and upset stomachs.
Scientific studies are thin on the ground but in our tests, the tablets did help minimise the effects of alcohol when taken twice daily for a week before drinking (and continued for each day of drinking). Tiredness, nausea and indigestion were all minimised while taking the supplement - and noticeably increased when we stopped.
Ibuprofen: £7.69 for 48 caplets, Boots
The most effective hangover remedy we tested: one 400mg dose of ibuprofen before bed.
According to Dr Foxton, a hangover is a pro-inflammatory condition (hence why symptoms like headache and body aches often mirror those of flu or a virus) and during the recovery process our body releases inflammatory mediators called cytokines, which are better treated by anti inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin rather than paracetamol. Note: you shouldn’t take ibuprofen and aspirin together.
SOS Me: £9.99, Gabriela Peacock
From celebrity and royal nutritionist Gabriela Peacock, this hangover-specific kit is a three-day programme of daily capsules and a soluble powder you mix with water. The ingredients – among them, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin D and choline (a nutrient for liver function) – aim to aid the detoxification process and improve energy levels.
In practice? A noticeable lift in energy and an improvement in clarity, especially when taken after the last alcoholic drink of the day. Its effects were particularly noticeable after a boozy lunch – instead of foggy and sluggish, we felt bouncy.
Morning Recovery: £29.99 for six bottles, Morning Recovery
Not cheap but when you’re at the tail end of a mammoth drinking session, Morning Recovery may be your only saviour. Created by a former Tesla engineer, it contains vitamin C, milk thistle, vitamin B and electrolytes.
However, the star is dihydromyricetin, a compound from the Japanese raisin tree, which helps prevent toxins from building up in the liver. Drink one bottle as soon as you finish boozing. The effects were impressive: despite a night knocking back margaritas we were up at 7am and managed a four mile run.
Overhang: £1.79 for 250ml, Holland & Barrett
Billed as a ‘naturally revitalising drink’, Overhang is designed to tackle hangovers thanks to the inclusion of milk thistle, ginger, B vitamins, vitamin C (half the recommended daily intake) and raspberry leaf. It is excellent for nausea - and far easier to drink and keep down than traditional fizzy, sugary ginger beers.
Put it in the fridge the night before and start drinking as soon as you wake up. Don’t down it in one – it proved much more effective when sipped throughout the day.
Pepto Bismol: £5.29 for 240ml, Boots
Upset stomach the morning after? You need an antacid. We found a shot of the original liquid Pepto Bismol first thing in the morning acted faster than the chewable tablets. The bright pink drink can be a challenge with nausea, but persevere – in the long run its effects on sickness, diarrhoea, heartburn and indigestion are unrivalled. Do not take with alcohol.
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Flashpatch Rejuvenating Eye Gels: £14 for 5, Patchology
These won't make you feel better, but they will dramatically improve post-booze puffy eyes (brought on by lack of sleep and dehydration). The gel patches are soaked in a serum containing caffeine and wrinkle-busting hydrolyzed collagen.
Put them in the fridge when you roll in and when you wake up, use as the final step in your skincare routine, leaving them on for five minutes. They noticeably reduce swelling, soften the creases and leave skin looking a little like they’ve had a Snapchat filter applied to them (an effect that lasted well into the afternoon).
Sleep Power Recharge Mask: £32, This Works
Alcohol limits your body’s ability to produce melatonin – the hormone that helps adjust your sleep wake cycle – so you sleep less deeply, you get less REM sleep and you wake more.
There’s not a lot you can do about the sleep deprivation but you can treat the superficial effects of lack of sleep and excessive alcohol with This Works’ Sleep Power Recharge Mask.
Touted as as “a ‘skintensive’ alternative to a good night’s sleep”, it proved to be a wonder hangover skin product, calming inflamed skin, reducing redness almost completely and leaving skin feeling silky and cosseted. The ingredients – prickly pear extract, amino acids and kaolin clay – are suitable for sensitive skin.
CBD oil: £25 for 300mg, LDN CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in the cannabis plant.
Medical-grade CBD is now available on prescription for certain patients but there are lower-strength versions – billed as food supplements – available on the high street. Stockists can’t make claims about its efficacy but type CBD + hangover into Google and you’ll find a long list of blogs raving about its effectiveness on treating nausea, headaches, concentration and anxiety brought on by excessive drinking.
We tried three drops of LDN CBD Oil under the tongue, three times a day, the day after a big night out, and noticed remarkable results on all four fronts.
The Verdict: Best hangover cures
The varied nature of hangovers means you won’t find one remedy for all your symptoms but 400mg of ibuprofen before bed, followed by a breakfast of Pepto Bismol and Vichy Catalan is your best shot at recovery. Failing that, tell your boss you have the flu and get back into bed.
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