The pounding headache. The queasy stomach. The dizziness, shakes and sensitivity to light. Yes, it's the morning after the night before. Time for the inevitable hangover.
During a drinking binge, your blood-alcohol level soars. Hours later, when it settles back to normal, the hangover begins. Drinking lots of alcohol causes you to urinate more (which means you get dehydrated and thirsty); irritates the lining of your stomach (which leads to the sour feeling); causes your blood sugar level to plummet (incurring weakness and fatigue); expands your blood vessels (which leads to headaches) and inflames your immune system (leading to an inability to concentrate and have memory problems) [source: Mayo Clinic]. Sounds wonderful!
So how do you cure a hangover? Because one of its main symptoms is dehydration, drinking lots of water will help you feel better. Eating a bland snack can settle an upset stomach and boost your blood sugar levels. Sipping broth or a sports drink can replace lost salt and potassium. Taking a pain reliever can relieve the headache. But, unfortunately, the only true cure for a hangover is time, say the experts [source: Mayo Clinic].
That hasn't stopped people all over the world from coming up with some very colorful remedies for relieving hangovers. Here are 9 noteworthy ones.
The name sounds good, if nothing else. "Leche de Tigre," or tiger's milk, is a hangover cure popular in Peru. The concoction is just the marinade that's left over after soaking your ceviche. (Ceviche is a popular Latin and South American seafood appetizer made from soaking fresh, raw fish in lemon and/or lime juice spiced with items such as ají or chili peppers, garlic and ginger.) The name "tiger's milk" comes from the fact that the mixture has a milky color, and is supposedly energizing [sources: Strochlic, Paull, The Guardian].
Leftover raw-fish marinade doesn't sound too appetizing. Luckily, you only need to take a shot of it. Or, if you enjoy ceviche, try pouring it over a serving and ingesting the liquid that way. The juice's acidity and spiciness is what's behind the cure; the claim is that it cuts through the toxins you've accumulated from alcohol consumption, although this has not been scientifically proven [source: MSN].
You can also take your leftover-ceviche-marinade-turned-hangover cure by combining it with some black clams, which will change its color from milky to dusky, and its name to "leche de pantera," or panther's milk. An added bonus: Both leches are said to aphrodisiacs, due to their high concentrations of raw herbs and vitamin C [source: The Guardian]. With names referring to the tiger and the panther, we're not surprised.
This is one cure we can get behind. A full English breakfast, featuring lots of fried bacon, fried eggs and some toast sounds pretty tasty. The theory is that the grease and fat line the stomach and help to soothe it [source: Paul].
But there's actually more than that going on. The heavy helping of protein in the bacon and eggs does have some real value. Alcohol depletes the amino acids in your body. Amino acids are used to break down food, repair body tissue and as a source of energy. Protein breaks down into amino acids, so ingesting bacon and eggs will help with well-being [source: Medline Plus].
A study at England's Newcastle University found that a basic bacon sandwich could help you recover from a hangover. The bacon would replenish your amino acids while the carbohydrates in the bread would boost your metabolism [source: The Telgraph].
"Food doesn't soak up the alcohol but it does increase your metabolism helping you deal with the after-effects of over-indulgence. So food will often help you feel better," Elin Roberts, of Newcastle University's Centre for Life said in a news report.
As hangover remedies go, having citrusy-smelling armpits is not so bad. This Puerto Rican belief, which is a hangover preventative, rather than a cure, works like this: Before you begin drinking, take one lemon or lime, cut off a slice, then rub it into the armpit of your drinking arm. This will prevent dehydration, the thinking goes, and thus the nasty headaches associated with hangovers [source: Two Views]. In exchange, you'll just have to live with one sticky armpit for the rest of the night. (But remember, you'll smell good!)
Unsurprisingly, there is no scientific evidence this hangover-prevention method works. So you might want to move on to another Puerto Rican remedy. After an evening out on the town, citizens will often chow down on a steaming bowl of asopao. This classic Puerto Rican dish is a chicken, chickpea or shrimp stew spiced up with various ingredients such as onion, green pepper, chili peppers, garlic, paprika and oregano. It's cooked with rice and served piping hot. The dish's heat — both in temperature and spice — is alleged to be the secret, as it allows you to sweat out toxins. (Please note: Despite what many of these cures say, medically speaking, you can't detox your body with any food or supplements.) If it helps at all, it's likely due to the broth rehydrating you and the protein in the soup [sources: Bastidas, Paull].
In the hit musical "Cabaret," singer Sally Bowles calls her typical breakfast a "prairie oyster." The concoction is a whole egg — raw — cracked into a rocks glass, then sprinkled with salt and pepper, plus a few splashes of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces. You aren't supposed to eat a prairie oyster, you're supposed to drink it. And ideally, you'll quickly gulp it down without breaking the yolk [source: Paull].
The origin of the prairie oyster can be traced back to the late 19th century, although the dish may have been created earlier. Some people use just the yolks in their concoctions, not the entire egg. While it's often purported to be a hangover cure — the spices are supposed to combat the alcohol's toxins, while the egg offers nutrients, namely protein — some view it as a quick fix for the hiccups. Others, less kindly, see it more as an emetic [sources: Schaap, Paull].
Some version of the prairie oyster include brandy. And many "hair of the dog" remedies (alcoholic drinks that will allegedly banish hangovers) feature eggs. In Namibia, for instance, the "hair of the dog" is a concoction of clotted cream, dark rum, spiced rum cream liqueur and whole cream. That actually sounds a bit yummy, but the cure, nicknamed "buffalo milk," is actually more alcohol than milk or cream [source: Strochlic].
In Russia and Poland, people try to combat nasty hangovers by downing the juice from a jar of pickles. They may be on to something — Dr. Oz recommends tossing back a quarter-cup as soon as you're awake and feeling the nasty effects of last night's bender. The reason? Pickle juice contains water and lots of salt, two things you lose during a night of drinking. Pickle juice will also combat the headaches, dizziness and cramping you might experience, which are side effects of being dehydrated and having your electrolytes out of whack [sources: Novosti, Dr. Oz].
If pickle juice isn't appetizing, you can try Bob's Pickle Pops, frozen pickle juice popsicles. Created in 2007 by two Americans and sold in various Southern states and online, the frosty treats can be enjoyed simply for their unique taste, or by athletes looking for a competitive edge (remember, pickle juice fights cramping and dehydration). The creators of Bob's Pickle Pops also know some people purchase them as hangover cures. Unfortunately, they can't market them for this purpose, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's rules specify that first a double-blind test must prove they're able to help alleviate hangovers, and such a test hasn't been performed on them. Yet [source: Novosti].
Drinking a cup of green tea would be a rather pleasant way to shut down a hangover. Unfortunately, that's not quite what Australia's indigenous people came up with. Instead, they historically drank green tree ant tea. The recipe is simple: Mix ground-up green tree ants in a cup of hot water or bush tea. The only trick is getting the ants. Green tree ants, aka weaver ants, are aggressive. If you attack their nests, they'll swarm onto you, take a bite, then squirt a burning fluid into the wound. Ouch! Despite this danger, Aborigines have collected these yellowish-green bugs for millennia to combat headaches and colds — hence their additional use in fighting hangovers. If this remedy works, it may be due to the protein that ants contain [sources: The Guardian, Queensland Museum,Ipatenco].
Interestingly, Australian scientists with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the country's main science entity, recently claimed to have found a potential hangover cure, and it's much more palatable than ant tea: pears. Specifically, the Korean variety. The researchers found that if you drink 220 milliliters of Korean pear juice before drinking alcohol, the overall intensity of your hangover will be significantly reduced. That's because Korean pears lower blood alcohol levels by affecting the key enzymes involved in the metabolism of alcohol — alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) [source: Pash].
There's a fairly new belief among many Vietnamese people that ground rhino horn can cure both cancer and the humble hangover — as well as increase virility. These beliefs have resulted in the slaying of hundreds of rhinos each year, and horns sell on the black market for an astronomical $300,000 [source: Guilford].
The rhino horn craze began around 2008, a few years after a rumor swept the country that a former politician's cancer was cured by ingesting powdered rhino horn. A few doctors actually vouched for the remedy. At the same time, an increasing number of Vietnamese people were being diagnosed with cancer, yet they faced long waits before traditional medical treatments such as radiation were available. As the society is getting wealthier, a black market for the rhino horn emerged [source: Guilford].
A few years later — around 2012 — the rhino horn started to become popular also as a hangover cure and an aphrodisiac. In fact those are the two most common uses for it now, according to a recent report [source: Nowell]. Exactly how ground rhino horn became associated with hangovers is a bit of a mystery. Scientific studies don't show any pharmacological value in the rhino horn. It may simply be a case of marketing: The horn is part of a cleansing drink advertised to detox your liver after a wild night of partying. The saddest part of this is that the rhino is now extinct in Vietnam, and there's been a huge increase in rhino killings elsewhere in the world — 688 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2012 versus 15 in 2007 [sources: Main, Guilford].
It seems a bit counterintuitive — when your head is pounding and your stomach is queasy, you should nosh on a platter of heavy, greasy meat? Yet that's what South Africans feel is just the ticket to chasing away hangover symptoms. Ideally, the meat will be chargrilled over a braai (an Afrikaans word for barbecue that is pronounced "bry") [source: The Guardian].
The kind of meat you eat isn't necessarily important — it's the protein inside that helps you recover from a hangover — and it can be paired with many other ingredients. For example, the most popular hangover-combatting meal at The Golden Dish, a popular Cape Town eatery, is the Masala Steak Full House Gatsby. The foot-long sandwich is comprised of steak, egg, chips and cheese and is known for its oil, grease and salt [source: Cape Town Magazine].
No worries if you're a vegetarian. The other main hangover cure favored by South Africans is an ostrich-egg omelet, due to its similar protein-packing properties. But if you go the omelet route, remember one thing: An ostrich egg is equivalent in size to 24 chicken eggs. So be prepared to ask for a doggie bag, or bring your equally hungover friend along [sources: Travel Channel, Clark].
Umeboshi are Japanese ume — a fruit like an apricot or plum — that are picked while green, then pickled with sea salt for a few months. Brace yourself before popping one in your mouth, though. The gumball-sized hangover cure is exceptionally sour and salty, plus rather bitter. If you can't stomach the taste, try steeping one in green tea before eating [source: Paull].
Umeboshi supposedly work at combating hangovers because their acids can do everything from improve your liver function to assist your digestive system and knock back fatigue. Additionally, they're loaded with electrolytes like sodium and potassium — electrolytes you lose during a drinking binge — and thus help replace them. Finally, their briny, sourpuss flavors make you want to drink a lot of water. Since the main symptom of a hangover is dehydration, drinking a lot of water will definitely help you recover more quickly [source: Paull].
You can find umeboshi for sale all over Japan.
Can one minute of exercise really be the same benefit as 45? HowStuffWorks Now breaks down a study getting a lot of buzz.
Author's Note: 9 Hangover Cures from Around the World:
I've had a hangover or two in my day, but I never tried to do anything to cure them other than pop a few aspirin. I wouldn't mind trying most of these fixes other than the green tree ant tea.
More Great Links
- Bastidas, Grace. "The 5 Best Latin American Hangover Cures." Latina. June 8, 2011. (July 6, 2016) http://www.latina.com/lifestyle/health/5-best-latin-american-hangover-cures
- Bob's Pickle Pops. (July 5, 2016) http://bobspicklepops.com/
- Cape Town Magazine. "Best Hangover Food Cures from Cape Town Restaurants." (July 7, 2016) http://www.capetownmagazine.com/restaurants-cape-town/best-hangover-food-cures-from-cape-town-restaurants/27_22_19407
- Clark, Chelsea. "Protein best cure for a hangover." Body and Soul. Feb. 29, 2012. (July 7, 2016) http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/nutrition/nutrition-tips/protein-best-cure-for-a-hangover/news-story/b1956f7cc36d70a272300205b41e1204
- Guilford, Gwynn. "Why Does a Rhino Horn Cost $300,000? Because Vietnam Thinks It Cures Cancer and Hangovers." The Atlantic. May 15, 2013. (July 7, 2016) http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/05/why-does-a-rhino-horn-cost-300-000-because-vietnam-thinks-it-cures-cancer-and-hangovers/275881/
- Harding, Anne. "10 hangover remedies: What works?" CNN. Dec. 31, 2010. (July 7, 2016) http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/12/30/hangover.remedies/
- Main, Douglas. "Javan Rhino Officially Extinct In Vietnam." Live Science. Jan. 3, 2013. (July 7, 2016) http://www.livescience.com/25967-vietnam-rhino-extinct.html
- Mayo Clinic. "Diseases and Conditions: Hangovers." Dec. 20, 2014. (July 7, 2016) http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hangovers/basics/symptoms/con-20025464
- Medicine Net. "Definition of Hair of the dog." May 13, 2016. (July 7, 2016) http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=26229
- MSN. "The world's strangest hangover cures." June 23, 2016. (July 7, 2016) http://www.msn.com/en-in/foodanddrink/foodnews/the-world%E2%80%99s-strangest-hangover-cures/ss-BBqTYuU#image=15
- Novosti, RIA. "Americans in a Pickle Over Russian Hangover Cure." The Moscow Times. June 11, 2013. (July 5, 2016) http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/americans-in-a-pickle-over-russian-hangover-cure/481445.html
- Nowell, Kristin. "Rhinoceroses: Assessment of Rhino Horn as a Traditional Medicine." CITES. April 2012. (July 7, 2016) https://cites.org/eng/com/sc/62/E62-47-02-A.pdf
- Pash, Chris. "Australian scientists have reportedly found a hangover cure." Science Alert. July 31, 2015. (July 6, 2016) http://www.sciencealert.com/australian-scientists-have-reportedly-found-a-hangover-cure
- Paull, Jennifer. "World's Strangest Hangover Cures." Travel + Leisure. (July 1, 2016) http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/worlds-strangest-hangover-cures
- Queensland Museum. "Green Tree Ant." (July 6, 2016) http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Find+out+about/Animals+of+Queensland/Insects/Ants/Common+species/Green+Tree+Ant#.V31vfdIrKUk
- Remling, Amanda. "New Year's Eve Hangover Remedies: 4 Hair Of The Dog Cocktails." International Business Times. Dec. 31, 2014. (July 5, 2016) http://www.ibtimes.com/new-years-eve-hangover-remedies-4-hair-dog-cocktails-1771352
- Schaap, Rosie. "The Perfect Hair of the Dog." The New York Times Magazine. Dec. 29, 2011. (July 5, 2016) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/magazine/hangover-drink.html?_r=0
- Strochlic, Nina. "The Wildest Hangover Cures from Around the World." The Daily Beast. Nov. 29, 2013. (July 1, 2016) http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/11/29/the-wildest-hangover-cures-from-around-the-world.htmlj
- The Dr. Oz Show. "Health Secrets Dr. Oz Only Tells His Friends." Oct. 3, 2013. (July 5, 2016) http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/health-secrets-dr-oz-only-tells-his-friends
- The Guardian. "Anyone for ant tea? Hangover remedies from around the world." Dec. 26, 2014. (July 1, 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/dec/26/hangover-cures-around-world-new-year-remedies
- Travel Channel. "South African Hangover Cure: Ostrich Omelet." http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/food-and-drink/articles/south-african-hangover-cure-ostrich-omelet
- Two Views. "Hangovers: American Indian hangover cures in two views." (July 7, 2016) http://www.two-views.com/hangovers/indian-remedy.html#sthash.Cjmky7pb.GE3JXpIF.dpbs
- Two Views. "Hangovers: The Puerto Rican hangover cure in two views." (July 6, 2016) http://www.two-views.com/hangovers/puerto-rican-remedy.html#sthash.bWtN9kBi.dpbs