How Hangovers Work

Hangover Remedy Overview


­The only fool-proof way to avoid a hangover, of course, is not to drink alcohol. But from a scientific perspective, researchers have found the following general regimen minimizes the symptoms of a hangover.


Before Drinking

  • Eat a full meal - A full stomach slows down the absorption of alcohol, giving the body more time to process the toxins. Fatty foods and carbohydrates increase this effect. Having food in the stomach also decreases stomach irritation, in turn reducing the likelihood that a drinker will vomit.
  • Drink a glass of water - This ensures the body is hydrated before the diuretic effect takes hold.
  • Take multivitamins - This better prepares the body for the depletion of vitamins caused by frequent urination.

While Drinking

  • Drink in moderation - Ideally, drinkers should limit themselves to one drink per hour because the body takes about an hour to process a single drink.
  • Drink a glass of water after every alcoholic beverage - In addition to helping keep a drinker hydrated, this will give the body more time to process the alcohol, dilute the toxins and reduce irritation of the stomach. A sports drink like Gatorade or Propel will also replenish electrolytes, salts and sugars lost in the urine.
  • Watch your drink choice - Drinkers generally fare better when they stick with one drink. Each new type of alcohol a drinker puts into his or her system makes the body work that much harder and puts that many more toxins in the body, leading to a more severe hangover. Here's a rundown of the major types of alcohol and their effects: Beer has the lowest percentage of alcohol (4 to 6 percent), but it's also carbonated, which speeds up the absorption and can lead to toxin buildup. Wine has a higher percentage of alcohol (7 to 15 percent) than beer, but it's usually not carbonated. White wine is safer than red or blush because it has fewer congeners. In general, the cheaper the wine, the higher the congener content and the worse the hangover. Liquor has the highest alcohol content (40 to 95 percent) and therefore increases the likelihood of a hangover. Clear liquors like vodka, rum and gin are better bets than dark or sweet liquors like bourbon, scotch or tequila because they have fewer congeners. Generally, cheaper liquor will result in a worse hangover than more expensive liquor.

After Drinking

Before Bed

  • Take two aspirin with a full glass of water - The prostaglandin inhibitors in the aspirin can decrease hangover severity.

In the Morning

  • Take two more aspirin with a full glass of water - This has been shown to minimize headaches as well as decrease inflammation from leftover prostaglandin.
  • Take another multivitamin - Replenishing C and B vitamins in particular can help get rid of the rest of the toxins.
  • Eat breakfast - A meal that includes eggs (for the cysteine), a banana (for the potassium, and fruit juice (for the fructose) or a sports drink (for the electrolytes, sugars and salts) can get the body on the road to recovery. Keep in mind that caffeinated coffee, tea and soda will further dehydrate a drinker.

For more information on hangovers, alcohol and related topics, check out the links below.

Related Articles

More Great Links