There are plenty of tried-and-true remedies for the hated hangover: Alka-Seltzer, greasy food, even the "hair of the dog." But a slew of new products is hitting the market, aimed at recreational drinkers looking to ease the worst symptoms of a hangover. Many of these "new cures on the block" carry bold claims of "curing" or even preventing hangovers, but can the makers of these hangover remedies back up promises with hard proof?
To find out, "20/20" asked neuropsychologist Krista Lisdahl to examine five leading products that promise to reduce the effects of the dreaded hangover.
|Hangover Heaven (Las Vegas)|
Stuck in Las Vegas with a wicked hangover? Just go out to the city's famed Strip and get on board a tricked-out party bus -- one stocked with shapely nurses, not tequila shooters. It's also known as the "Hangover Bus," where riders pay up to $200 for a unique IV infusion of rehydrating fluids, painkillers, vitamins, and anti-nausea medication.
The "Hangover Bus" IV treatment can actually relieve hangover symptoms by replenishing vital nutrients, fluids, and anti-oxidants, according to Lisdahl. But "do you have to pay someone to do that? Probably not," she said. "You could just as easily drink a lot of water, take an aspirin, eat a banana, eat some bread, and maybe even a multivitamin or a salad, and definitely get the same effect."
But sufferers of a Vegas-level hangover might also expect a Vegas-level treatment. "EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters have used IV fluids for a long time to help resolve most of the symptoms of a hangover," Hangover Heaven's owner, Jason Burke, told "20/20." "I've just taken it to the next level, with the vitamins and the medications."
Watch the full story on the latest episode of "20/20" online here.
On her blog, GOOP, actress and lifestyle maven Gwyneth Paltrow talks up the benefits of "Mercy," a carbonated, hangover-fighting drink sold at bars and convenience stores -- a drink in which Paltrow is an investor. Marketed as a "hangover-prevention beverage," the drink contains amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants -- including vitamin B1, a vital nutrient that's depleted when alcohol is converted by the liver into less toxic compounds before being released into the bloodstream.
Mercy's ingredients should provide some hangover symptom relief, according to Lisdahl. However, she's skeptical it can actually prevent hangovers. "There's no evidence that taking vitamin B1 the night that you're drinking is really going to block many hangover effects," she said.
A representative for Mercy told ABC News that the product was developed in consultation with two physicians to ensure its effectiveness in reducing hangover symptoms.
If popping a pill is more your style, downing a few capsules of "Alcohol-X" will not only treat the hangover you already have -- it will prevent one from even happening, according to the label. It contains nutrients like vitamin B1 that can help your liver purge your system of the metabolites the body produces if you've had too much alcohol.
The vitamin B1 in Alcohol-X "may be helpful," said Lisdahl, "but no scientific studies show that this particular blend is effective."
Casey McCarthy, CEO of Alcohol-X's manufacturer, told ABC News that while Alcohol-X has not been scientifically tested, some studies indicate that vitamin B1 (one of the active ingredients in his product) has been shown to alleviate hangover symptoms.
At first glance, Blowfish looks much like another hangover remedy -- Alka-Seltzer, the fizzy aspirin tablet. But it contains one more ingredient: caffeine. This combination should offer hangover relief, according to Lisdahl. Aspirin reduces aches and pains, and caffeine may help hangover sufferers feel more alert (although it may contribute to dehydration). But taking these ingredients in a fizzy tablet like Blowfish isn't any more effective than taking them in pill form, she said.
But Blowfish founder, Brenna Haysom, told "20/20" that "effervescent solutions get into your small intestines faster," she says, improving absorption of active ingredients and reducing stomach irritation.
The patch… it's not just for tobacco habits anymore. One of the most popular anti-hangover patches on the market, "Forget Hangovers" contains vitamin B1, an ingredient found in many other anti-hangover products. The product's makers claim it can prevent a hangover from happening in the first place – but you must apply the patch BEFORE you start drinking, according to the directions.
Replacing the body's stores of B1 can help heal alcohol's after-effects, according to Lisdahl, but since Forget Hangovers has not been scientifically tested, using it may be no more effective than "just eating some food, or taking a vitamin."
Forget Hangovers did not respond to "20/20's" request for comment on Lisdahl's critique. Watch the full story on the latest episode of "20/20" online here.