Many of us begin each New Year with a sense of possibility—and a queasy stomach or pounding headache from one-too-many celebratory drinks the night before. While internet is full of hangover “cures" from fruit juices to anti-inflammatory medications, a new paper published in the journal Addiction suggests those at-home remedies may offer little relief. In the study, scientists evaluated 23 different substances rumored to help prevent or treat an alcohol-induced hangover and found no method was particularly effective at treating symtoms.
“Hangover symptoms can cause significant distress and affect people’s employment and academic performance,” says Emmert Roberts, the study’s lead author, and a clinical researcher at the National Addiction Center of King’s College London, in a statement. “The question around the effectiveness of substances that claim to treat or prevent a hangover appears to be one with considerable public interest.”
In their study, the United Kingdom team reviewed 21 different clinical trials involving 386 participants. The research included supposed hangover cures like red ginseng, probiotics, artichoke extract, and pear juice, reports Ed Cara for Gizmodo.
“Our study has found that evidence on these hangover remedies is of very low quality and there is a need to provide more rigorous assessment,” says Roberts.
While the scientists didn’t find a hangover “cure,” they noted that three substances—clove extract, tolfenamic acid, and pyritinol—had slightly better outcomes than those taking the placebo, but say that further assessment is needed to see if these supplements will actually help relieve symptoms. The clove extract study, for example, involved just 16 participants.
The research team noted other limitations to their study, including small sample sizes and poor quality of the data collected. Eight of the studies they reviewed included only male participants, and none involved adults over the age of 65, reports Nicola Davis for the Guardian. Comparing results was difficult because the trials were designed differently; for example, some included different types of alcohol to get people intoxicated. Existing studies also failed to include some other common hangover remedies, like acetaminophen or aspirin, per Medscape’s Peter Russell.
The scientists behind the work concluded that the best way to avoid a hangover is by prevention, rather than treatment.
“The most sensible thing to do is either to abstain from alcohol or drink in moderation,” says Roberts.