Hangover 'Cures': What Helps and What Hurts

Now that 2009 is over and New Year's parties are done, people around the world are ringing in 2010 with throbbing headaches.

In case you haven't checked, headache experts say there still isn't a cure for the hangover since last year.

Try all the remedies you want -- the sauna, greasy food, juice -- and if you're looking for a cure then: "The answer is no," said Dr. Brian Grosberg, director of the Inpatient Headache Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

VIDEOl Dr. Marie Savard on how to relieve hangover symptoms.
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"No, no," agreed Dr. Joel Saper founder and director of the Michigan Head-Pain and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich. "The best recourse is not to drink."

But headache experts have some good news for those who are afraid they'll accidentally overindulge next year. Most remedies people try for hangovers won't cure a headache, but some can actually prevent a hangover.

Below are some common hangover remedies and expert commentary on whether they have the potential to help the dreaded hangover headache.

A Prairie Oyster?

Unlike other alleged hangover cures, like egg sandwiches or coffee, prairie oysters are a concoction so revolting few bother to eat them, even if they have a hangover. Put a raw egg in a glass and add a dash or two of hot sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and some salt and pepper.

Drink it in a gulp and voila… nothing. Headache experts say this classic remedy does nothing for a hangover, although it may inspire some people to prevent one.

"Thinking about that would make me not want to drink," said Grosberg. "It would be a non-alcoholic drink that night if a prairie oyster would be something I had to drink later."

Prairie oysters and many other hangover remedies around the world, such as rubbing lemons in your armpits, may make you feel nauseous, but experts say such nasty remedies won't make the hangover headache worse.

"I think it's the absence of doing the things that are right [that make hangovers worse]," said Saper. He said people should never drink on an empty stomach and pay attention to your individual tolerance and headache susceptibility, which is genetic.

"It's biologically vulnerability in the way we metabolize and process the various chemicals in our body," said Saper. "A hangover headache is going to occur more frequently in people who are vulnerable to headaches."

To read more science behind the hangover from Saper, click here.

Not All Alcohol Headaches Are Hangovers

In fact, some people who are sensitive to certain types of alcohol are likely to get a headache from chemicals -- such as congeners in rum or tyramine in red wine -- even if they don't drink enough to get a hangover.

"There are clearly certain alcohol products that are much worse. Things like vodka are a lot easier on the system than some of the amber colored drinks," said Saper.

Grosberg noted a true hangover is much more than a headache from drinking alcohol, but a physiological event with a constellation of symptoms: reduced appetite, nausea, shakiness, quickening of the heartbeat, sweating, also mood changes, depression and anxiety.

"The headache happens when the blood alcohol level is falling," said Grosberg.

Bloody Mary: Hair of the Dog That Bit You

Either out of addiction or intuition, some people swear that sipping more alcohol the day after a night of drinking reduces a hangover.

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