Despite your best efforts to prevent a hangover, sometimes you may nevertheless wake up with a pounding headache, nausea, and excessive thirst. Maybe you drank more than you intended, or you forgot to keep yourself hydrated throughout the evening.
And as you get older, you may find that it gets harder to bounce back from a hangover.
But you don’t want one evening of celebration to leave you bedridden for the next 24 hours. While there are several commercial hangover cures available, these products have not been proven to reduce the severity of hangover symptoms.
However, studies of certain herbal remedies from places such as Korea, China, and Mexico show promising results. The next time you overdo it, try some of these hangover cures from around the world and get back to feeling your best.
Korean red ginseng
Red ginseng is a Korean herbal remedy that has long been used for a number of purposes, including enhancing memory, improving stamina, boosting the immune system, improving blood sugar, and treating erectile dysfunction. Korean ginseng, also known as Asian ginseng or Panax ginseng, is a plant that grows in Asia. It should not be confused with American ginseng or Siberian ginseng, which are different plants with different properties.
Red ginseng is not a plant itself; rather, the term refers to ginseng root that has been steamed and dried, which results in a reddish color and prolongs the herb’s shelf life. The dried, unprocessed root is known as white ginseng. Both are available as supplements, but most research has been conducted on red ginseng. The plant must grow for five years before the root is harvested, which means that high-quality ginseng may sell for a high price.
Red ginseng as a hangover cure
Studies using both animals and humans indicate that red ginseng may reduce the severity of hangover symptoms following heavy drinking. In one study, red ginseng extract was found to lower blood alcohol levels in mice.
In another study conducted in Korea, healthy men were given 100 mL of whiskey, along with either 100 mL of water or a red ginseng hangover remedy. Blood samples taken 30, 60, and 90 minutes after drinking showed that the red ginseng group had significantly lower blood alcohol concentrations. Participants also completed a survey indicating the severity of their hangover symptoms.
The red ginseng drink showed “positive effects” on hangover symptoms, including less memory loss, less difficulty concentrating, and fewer complaints of thirst, nausea, and dehydration. Researchers concluded that red ginseng is an effective hangover remedy.
It’s important to consider that in this study, the participants consumed the red ginseng drink shortly after drinking alcohol. The study doesn’t indicate that red ginseng will have the same effects if taken the next day, but it may be worth a try if you have severe hangover symptoms.
Forms of red ginseng
Red ginseng is available as liquid, capsules, or powder. You can also boil the dried root to make tea. Side effects are rare and may include difficulty sleeping. Red ginseng may intensify the effects of caffeine. Follow directions and don’t use more than the recommended amount. Talk to your doctor before using red ginseng if you are taking insulin, blood thinners, or blood pressure medication.
Ginger is a flowering plant that originated in China. Its root has long been used as a spice and in folk medicine. Ginger has been used to aid digestion, reduce nausea, and fight infection.
The main active compound in ginger is gingerol, which gives ginger its unique fragrance and flavor. Gingerol has been shown to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
You can use ginger fresh, dried, or powdered, and it is a common ingredient in many recipes. You can also use it to make oil or juice.
Ginger as a hangover cure
One traditional Chinese hangover remedy, known as Kami-shoyo-san (KSS), combines ginger with tangerine and brown sugar. A 2010 study evaluated the effectiveness of KSS on 22 different hangover symptoms. Participants who received the ginger drink reported improvements in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea after drinking alcohol.
Although the drink may help improve symptoms associated with a hangover, researchers noted that it did not reduce total recovery time. If you’re suffering from nausea and vomiting after a night of drinking, try making your own ginger hangover cure, or try a variation with lemon, lime, or orange.
You can also sip some ginger tea or take a ginger supplement. If you use supplements, make sure to choose one that contains 100 percent ginger, without any added fillers.
Opuntia, commonly called prickly pear, is a type of cactus native to the Americas and found in abundance in Mexico. Prickly pear is believed to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it has been used for a number of medicinal purposes, including regulating blood sugar and protecting against nerve damage.
Prickly pear as a hangover cure
Research has indicated that the anti-inflammatory properties of prickly pear may help reduce the severity of hangover symptoms that are associated with inflammation.
In a study of 64 healthy adults, participants were randomly assigned to receive a prickly pear or a placebo, taken five hours before drinking alcohol. Participants rated their hangover symptoms, and blood and urine samples were taken the following morning. The prickly pear extract was found to reduce the severity of nausea, dry mouth, and loss of appetite.
Researchers also noted that participants who had more severe hangover symptoms showed significantly higher levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation. They concluded that hangover symptoms are largely associated with inflammation, and that prickly pear’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce hangover symptoms.
As with the other studies, the timing of the hangover cure may be a consideration. In this case, the prickly pear extract was taken before alcohol consumption began. However, it may be worth trying if you wake up with severe hangover symptoms following a night of drinking.
You can take prickly pear as a supplement, or the flat pads of the young plant can be cooked and eaten.
Turmeric is another highly anti-inflammatory spice that may help reduce hangover symptoms.
A popular Japanese drink known as Ukon Power, made with turmeric extract, claims to prevent hangover symptoms.
Turmeric curious? Read more about the health benefits of turmeric.
The only guaranteed way to prevent a hangover is to avoid drinking alcohol. If you do drink, do so responsibly. Know your limits, pace yourself, and drink plenty of water. In general, follow an anti-inflammatory diet to promote overall health and increase your chances of recovering quickly from a hangover.