It happens to the best of us: You’re at a cocktail party and kick back one too many vodka sodas. It’s fun at the time, but all that booze-fueled carousing comes back to haunt you the next morning as a dreaded hangover. When you wake up, bleary-eyed and queasy—with a splitting headache thrown in for good measure—are you doomed to languish in misery, or is there salvation for your poor, aching, hangover-stricken body?
“The alcohol hangover consists of a constellation of symptoms including physical, cognitive and psychological disturbances,” says Dr. Brian Grosberg, M.D., Director of the Montefiore Headache Center in New York, New York. “Although nothing will completely ‘cure’ a hangover, a number of measures is thought to lessen the effects of alcohol hangover.”
Of course, Dr. Grosberg adds, the best way to avoid hangovers is by drinking in moderation and sipping beverages slowly. But when you do over-imbibe, there are some ways you can alleviate that aching cranium and sour stomach. From the tried-and-true to the unusual, here are some effective hangover remedies for hurting partygoers.
Water. It sounds like a no-brainer, but guzzling a tall glass of H20 should be your first course of action when hangover symptoms strike. After all, that insufferable headache is caused by severe hydration—when you consume copious amounts of liquor, it zaps the body of its water stores and causes blood vessels in the head to dilate. “Drinking a lot of water or fluids that have minerals and electrolytes will help to alleviate the dehydration associated with alcohol consumption,” Dr. Grosberg says.
Coconut Water. Ultra-trendy coconut water has been touted for its hangover-busting properties, and with good reason: A great source of potassium and electrolytes, this hydrating beverage is a great morning-after remedy for partiers.
Banana. Nosh on a potassium-laden banana to counteract the unpleasant side effects of a hangover. Excessive alcohol intake can deplete your body of its potassium stores, and bananas can quickly replenish many of the vitamins and minerals lost from boozing.
Coffee. Go ahead and have your customary cup of Joe, but be careful not to overdo it. “Caffeine may provide some headache relief because it can cause constriction of blood vessels,” Dr. Grosberg notes. “However, caffeine intake should be balanced by increased water consumption, as caffeinated beverages can lead to further dehydration.”
Eggs: While conventional college wisdom would advise you to soak up your hangover with a burger and fries, greasy, high-fat food can possibly irritate your already-sensitive stomach. After a night on the town, whip up a plate of scrambled eggs, which are easily digestible and packed with cyestine, a compound that helps mop up some of the toxins from alcohol.
Tomato Juice: After a wild night, reach for a can of tomato juice (No, a Bloody Mary doesn’t count). “Drinking tomato juice, which is rich in fructose, allows the body to metabolize alcohol more effectively,” Dr. Grosberg says. Plus, the juice is rich in lycopene, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, which may further aid that throbbing head.
Honey: Another good source of fructose, honey is a lesser-known hangover antidote, Dr. Grosberg says. For a one-two punch, try munching on some whole-wheat told with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey.
Although we can’t promise that these natural remedies will cure what ails you, they’re worth a go. Whatever you do, though, don’t subscribe to the old “hair of the dog” adage—contrary to popular opinion, having a booze-filled brunch will simply add insult to injury. Instead, nurse your hangover with plenty of fluids and shut-eye, and you’ll be back to your (un-hungover) self in no time.