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Can you cure a hangover?

Consumer Reports News: December 30, 2008 10:16 AM

If you've ever dragged yourself into work a little bleary-eyed after a festive night out, you'll have heard people saying "Now what you need is…" followed by some improbable and unpalatable home remedy.

Everyone seems to have a cure for the dreaded hangover. But do any of them actually work? Sadly not, according to the latest research. Doctors trawled through hundreds of studies, looking to see whether there were any good-quality studies with positive results. The answer was no.

Back in Roman times, the favored remedy was cabbage. More recent suggestions include bananas, the blood pressure drug propanolol, prickly pear, artichoke, sports glucose drinks and even the Australian sandwich spread Vegemite. All of those have been studied and found wanting. More traditional remedies like a fried breakfast haven't been studied scientifically.

The only proven way to avoid a hangover is to avoid drinking too much alcohol in the first place. But how much is too much? Other research says that 3 to 5 drinks for a woman weighing 130 pounds, and 5 to 6 drinks for a man weighing 176 pounds, will almost always lead to a hangover.

What can you do if you've already over-indulged? A simple painkiller like aspirin or acetaminophen may help with headache, and drinking water can help you re-hydrate. Other than that, it's a matter of time, and giving your body a chance to recover, before you drink alcohol again.

What you need to know. There's no proven way to cure a hangover. The only way to be sure not to suffer is not to over-indulge.

Anna Sayburn, patient editor, BMJ Group has partnered with The BMJ Group to monitor the latest medical research and assess the evidence to help you decide which news you should use.

Read more on the realities behind common hangover "cures." 

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