Hangover 'Cures': What Helps and What Hurts

Since a hangover headache appears when the blood alcohol level drops, Grosberg said the old "hair of the dog" hangover remedy may have some fleeting truth to it.

"The problem is what do you do the day after? After you had that alcohol?" said Grosberg, who pointed out people are only delaying the drop in blood alcohol level that causes a hangover headache. "I'm not sure it's something I'd recommend."

Caffeine: Red Bull, White Tea or Coffee, Please?

Much more palatable than the prairie oyster, many hung over individuals turn to black coffee for relief. Today, some people go for a can of Red Bull for the extra caffeine, or take the moderate route with a bit of white tea.

But headache experts warn that caffeine can cut both ways when it comes to a hangover. In the right circumstances, it may help a headache, but in other circumstances it can start a headache.

"One of the things that happens is you dehydrate with a hangover. Alcohol is like a diuretic. It brings water through your system and you pee more," said Saper.

Since caffeine is also a diuretic, it might make the dehydration and resulting hangover headache much worse. If you try coffee, Saper suggested you also drink extra water to stay hydrated.

People who drink a lot of caffeine every day may also make their headaches worse. According to Saper, these people are typically caffeine-tolerant and may not see a benefit when they reach for coffee with a hangover.

But don't give up on the caffeine therapy too fast. Experts say it can help in people who drink minimal amounts of caffeine on a daily basis.

Neurologists don't completely understand the mechanism of a hangover, but Grosberg says a leading theory is that alcohol dilates blood vessels in the brain, leading to a throbbing headache.

In that case, "caffeine can provide relief because it causes a constriction of blood vessels," explained Grosberg.

Exercise to Cure a Hangover?

Yes, exercise. Some people swear a quick run will soothe a hangover. Sure, it can release endorphins, but headache experts warn it's not for everybody.

"That's an individual variability -- there are people who cannot exercise when they have an evolving headache," said Saper.

Saper explained if a person already has dilated blood vessels that are causing a headache, then increasing your heart rate with exercise may just make some people feel worse.

Exercising with a hangover could put you in worse shape in terms of dehydration, too, if you don't drink enough water to compensate for the sweat. The same could be said if someone didn't drink enough water after going for a schvitz -- time in a sauna or steam room -- which is said be a good cure for a hangover.

"On the other hand, there are people who can change their physiology by exercising, then it can ward off a physiological event (like a headache)," said Saper. "It's different strokes for different folks: some people will swear by it, some people will swear at it."

One thing Saper warns against trying is trying absolutely nothing and refusing medication.

"Clearly, we know these headaches evolve," said Saper. "If you can catch these physiological events early, then you are going to have the chance to lessen or shorten the event."

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