The word “hangover” may be different in different languages, but the symptoms of hangovers are universal: Headache, upset stomach, and thirstiness. The discovery of alcoholic brews dates back to ancient times, so it’s a safe bet that the discovery of the hangover was not far behind. Enter the hangover cure. Every culture has them. Some work, some don’t, and some have the potential to make you sicker than you were in the first place. Here are some hangover cures from around the world:
International Hangover Cures: Heat
These remedies employ heat, both internal and external, to sweat out toxins and distract from hangover symptoms. In Russia, many people head for the sauna, hoping to “sweat out” the alcohol. Other cultures use spicy food, which draws attention away from uncomfortable hangover symptoms. In Romania, the go-to dish is a spicy tripe soup. Keep in mind that there is no evidence that heat cures a hangover, and saunas can be dangerous when you are already dehydrated from overindulging the night before.
International Hangover Cures: Heavy Food
Many cultures use heavy meals to help treat a sour stomach. It can calm the stomach and give you a much needed boost of energy. The British in particular subscribe to this type of hangover cure, and recommend a full, English breakfast the morning after drinking too much.
International Hangover Cures: Sour food
Many cultures believe that eating a salty, sour food like pickled herring (in Northern Europe), a glass of juice from sour pickles (Poland) or umeboshi (in Japan) can restore electrolytes and encourage drinking of more water.
International Hangover Cures: Hair of the dog
It’s likely that ever since there have been hangover cures; there have been those that think drinking more alcohol should help. While research shows that this simply delays recovery, many cultures have developed alcoholic drinks meant to cure a hangover.
Do any of these “cures” actually work? Probably not. In 2005, researchers scoured studies as far back as the 1950’s that addressed preventing or treating hangovers. They found just eight that warranted a closer look, and none of the eight could convincingly demonstrate success for their hangover cure.
This doesn’t mean that you need to be miserable all day, however. Just realize that nothing besides time will really “cure” a hangover. If you want to take the edge off and speed recovery time a little, here are some tricks that may help:
1. Drink lots of water: Alcohol dehydrates you, which makes you dizzy and lightheaded, replenishing that fluid is essential for recovery. Also, drinks containing ginger, like ginger ale and ginger tea can settle your stomach at the same time.
2. Stay away from coffee (and booze): Caffeine will further dehydrate you and aggravate your symptoms. Likewise, as mentioned above, alcohol just numbs the symptoms, making them worse when it wears off.
3. Eat but don’t binge: Crackers and toast can boost your blood sugar, giving you more energy, as can bananas (which can replace electrolytes lost while drinking), but a big meal can make you feel even more nauseous.