With the countdown to Christmas well under way, our livers could take as much of a pounding as our wallets as we get into the festive spirit.
But what’s the most effective hangover remedy when you’re feeling green around the gills?
Here, Jane Scrivner, author of The Quick-Fix Hangover Detox: 99 Ways To Feel 100 Times Better, gives her expert verdict on various ‘cures’ after a few too many the night before.
- A can of Sprite
How it works: A Chinese study looking at 57 different beverages found that the lemon and lime pop helped process the alcohol out of your system quicker, speeding your recovery.
Sprite was among the drinks that sped up this process the most, causing the alcohol to be broken down faster, therefore reducing the duration of a hangover.
Expert verdict: “It has a high water content to rehydrate you and is high in sugar for an instant pick-me-up, yet the simple sugars mean you’re likely to soon come crashing back down.
But its lemon and lime juice content is alkaline and will help balance the acid in your gut, quelling feelings of nausea.
Fizzy water with a squeeze of fresh lemon is a better option.”
Rating: Sprite: 5/10
Fresh lemon alternative: 10/10
- Dioralyte Oralyte Ready to Drink
How it works: The bathroom cabinet staple, but in ready-mixed form, for when stirring a spoon seems a step too far away from your bed.
Replaces minerals and salts peed out with your toxins, as well as giving a boost of glucose to pick up your spirits.
Expert verdict: An old favourite and rightly so. When your body takes a hydration hit, Dioralyte gets you back.
Make this a staple of your medicine cabinet, not just for hangovers but for diarrhoea, dehydration, sun stroke and many more issues.”
- Coffee with honey on toast
How it works: The caffeine in the coffee wakes you up, the liquid in the coffee replaces the fluids you’ve lost and honey on toast provides a slower-burning but quick-acting form of energy to settle your stomach.
Expert verdict: “This one’s a short-term measure – it will give you an immediate jolt but watch out for the energy dip 30 minutes later.
It would need to be a really small spread of honey on heavy-duty brown toast with decaffeinated coffee to do the most good.
Remember, strong caffeine is a diuretic, so drink water too.”
Rating: Caffeine version: 5/10
- Bloody Mary
How it works: The classic ‘hair of the dog’ theory goes like this: all alcohol contains ethanol and methanol.
The body breaks down the ethanol first, then the methanol which it converts into formaldehyde.
It’s this that makes you feel awful. By drinking more alcohol, you are ingesting more ethanol, thereby staving off the formaldehyde production.
Ultimately though, you’ll just have to face up to your hangover!
Expert verdict: I’ve never subscribed this. The only true cure is to drink twice as much water as alcohol.
But tomato juice will pump you full of antioxidants, spices stimulate metabolism to help detox and celery acts as a diuretic – so a Virgin Mary would be better.”
Rating: Bloody Mary: 3/10 Virgin Mary: 6/10
How it works: The fat in your fry-up contains lots of calories, so you’ll get an energy boost, while eggs and meat are rich in the amino acid cysteine, which is thought to be good at clearing out toxins.
Expert verdict: An instant pick-me-up but a fry-up is too acidic.
Stick to muesli and yogurt to ease your tummy and get a sustainable energy boost.”
Rating: Fry-up: 2/10
Muesli and yoghurt: 8/10
- Nurofen Plus
How it works: Ibuprofen lysine is absorbed more quickly than ibuprofen, offering faster pain relief.
With codeine as well in the ‘plus’ form, you get two painkillers acting at once.
Expert verdict: These can take the edge off the pain, allowing you to make better choices than with caffeine. You could do far worse.”
- Sauna/steam room
How it works: Sweat out the toxins and stimulate feel-good endorphins – with the chance to rest your weary eyes and head in the quiet for half an hour.
Expert verdict: This is a great option. It gets the metabolism moving, the body purging the toxins and speeds up your cleanse.
Drink plenty of water an hour beforehand, then sauna/steam/cool shower rotations for 30 minutes, then replenish fluid again and you’ll soon sweat out fresh water not old alcohol.”
- Cactus shoots
How it works: Cactus shoots contain a big hit of minerals and B and C vitamins that help your body and brain function.
Because alcohol’s a diuretic, you’ll pee out more fluid than you drink, and with it these nutrients at the same time.
Expert verdict: “The cactus vitamin content is useful to repair damage from drinking and also acts as an antioxidant to protect – but only if you can keep it down!
Perhaps better incorporated into a smoothie or grilled on a heavily loaded pizza.”
How it works: Contains the concentrated juice of more than 30 beetroot.
Betacyanin, the pigment that gives beetroot its colour, is an antioxidant which speeds up detoxification in your liver.
Expert verdict: Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying – just what the doctor ordered.
Be aware that your pee will most definitely turn pink after this – a sign it’s working.”
- Liquid Oxygen Drops
How it works: These drops are concentrated oxygen – put 10 in a glass of water and the makers say they’ll give you more energy, cleanse your system and get things back on track.
Expert verdict: I’m not convinced on this one.
Not quite the same, but a good, brisk walk or a workout would get things oxygenated in a far more beneficial, natural way.”
How it works: Billed as “the first multivitamin for healthy people who drink alcohol”, these capsules are packed with every superfood extract and vitamin you could name – milk thistle through to taurine, goji, acai, green tea and kudzu.
With a money-back guarantee, too.
Expert verdict: I very much like the look of this.
Its creators seem to have covered all the credible bases – milk thistle for liver protection, amino acids to speed through the poisons, vitamins to replenish those peed out and a huge dose of super fruit extracts to say a big SORRY to your internal organs.
- Nelsons Nux Vom Clikpak
How it works: Homeopathic remedy from the strychnine tree used for headaches and gastric illnesses.
In Latin: Nux (no) Vom (vomiting). But like all homeopathic medicines, the science behind how, or if, it works is murky.
Expert verdict: It keeps stomach acids balanced and your body prepared for battle.
Take before your night out as it can have a preventative effect and don’t ruin its effects by using toothpaste or drinking caffeine.