Why Every Hangover Cure Doesn’t Work

While they’re preventable, hangovers aren’t curable. The after-effects of tying won’t go away without a lot of time and quiet. Nonetheless, there are dozens of alcohol remedies on the market. None of them will make a hangover go away but some may alleviate certain symptoms in some people.

Here’s what they are and why they go wrong.

Acetaldehyde Blocking

How is it Supposed to Work? By harnessing the fearsome power of the Soviet Union (RU 21’s makers say it was invented by the KGB). It’s supposed to blocks acetaldehyde, a toxic chemical that results when the liver metabolizes alcohol.

Does It Really Work? Not really. While some research indicates acetaldehyde may contribute to hangover pain, it’s probably the least of a hung-over person’s problems. When you’re dehydrated and your liver is shot, blocking acetaldehyde is like a fresh coat of paint on a sinking ship.

Should You Try It? Sure. Pretend that it was invented by characters on The Americans. Just keep your expectations low.

Pickle Juice

How is it Supposed to Work? The salt and nutrients counteract the body’s loss of water and vitamins, while the sourness smacks you back to life.

Does It Really Work? Maybe. Medical researchers and NFL trainers have used the briny liquid to ward off dehydration-related cramping. It could help your body exploit the small reserve of water it has left after your Tuesday tequila shots.

Should You Try It? Hell yeah. It tastes like an ancient seafaring ritual. There’s probably a jar in your fridge right now.

Guava Leaf

How is it Supposed to Work? It eases the pain by targeting free radicals released by booze.

Does It Actually Work? Maybe a little bit. The liver releases free radicals when flooded with alcohol, but that’s only one among many negative impacts on the liver. Users don’t claim it stops hangovers, just turns down the volume on them.

Should You Try It? Sure, but keep your expectations low.


How is it Supposed to Work? The Red Bull ingredient could help to minimize liver damage and ward off a hangover.

Does It Actually Work? Maybe, but the help might be negligible. Taurine may counteract the fat build up in the liver brought on by drinking, which is better news for preventing liver disease than hangovers.

Should You Try It? No. Red Bull and other energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, a diuretic that further dehydrates you at a moment when you desperately need those fluids.

Milk Thistle

How is it Supposed to Work? Proponents say it repairs liver damage brought on by drinking.

Does It Actually Work? The jury is out. Milk Thistle has been used to treat liver maladies for centuries, but there’s no strong conclusive evidence it works. Like Taurine, it’s more likely to help your liver’s long-term health over how you feel the morning after a bender.

Should You Try It? No. Some users say it makes them pee, which will further dehydrate you.

Mega-Vitamins & Anti-Oxidants

How is it Supposed to Work? Hangover cures like the Bytox Patch claim to replace the nutrients and vitamins washed away by a night of drinking.

Does It Actually Work? Not in any meaningful way. After drinking, your body does lack vitamins, but the real pain comes from dehydration. Some research indicates Vitamin B supplements may help, but medical professionals caution against putting too much faith in them.

Should You Try It? It depends on the state of your stomach. Fizzy vitamin powder drinks like Emergen-C can be acidic; if your gut is feeling fragile, this can create a real emergency.

Burnt Toast

How is it Supposed to Work? It contains activated carbon, which medical professionals use to treat poison.

Does It Actually Work? Hell no. Burnt toast doesn’t actually contain activated carbon; even if it did, it wouldn’t work. Carbon works in the stomach; alcohol would have traveled to the bloodstream hours before the scorched bread made contact with your lips.

Should You Try It? If you like the taste, go for it. Just don’t expect miracles.


How Does It Work? You sweat out the poison while enjoying a welcome rush of endorphins.
Does It Actually Work? The results are mixed. Thanks to the booze, you’re low on fluid and exercise makes you sweat. Experts say you’ll feel relief from the endorphin rush, but worse overall.
Should You Try It? Masochists will love the punishment but need to be sure to stay hydrated. The rest of us are better off in bed.

Hair of the Dog

How is it Supposed to Work? You reach peak hangover pain 12 hours after drinking, when your blood alcohol count drops to zero. A Bloody Mary or two can keep the count from flatlining.
Does It Actually Work? Maybe. Journalist Adam Rogers argues that hangovers are caused by booze-related methanol toxicity, not dehydration. A follow-up drink can displace the methanol.
Should You Try It? Sure. Bloody Marys are delicious.