Do hangover supplements actually work?


Research is putting science behind modern hangover nutraceuticals.

Photo © Normann

Photo © Normann

Hangover remedies are as old as hangovers themselves. After a night of too much merriment, the ancient Romans made a habit of consuming raw owl eggs; meanwhile, the 1878 World Exposition in Paris saw the introduction of the prairie oyster. Some swear by staples like fried food, tomato juice, or even more alcohol. The one thing these remedies all share is that none of them are rooted in science.

But now, emerging research has identified a number of science-backed ingredients that actually show evidence of easing the symptoms of a hangover. Here are a few with scientific backing.

Botanical Rehydration Formula Promotes Liver Health

One emerging hangover remedy targets a well-known hangover culprit: dehydration. Alcohol consumption reduces the amount of vasopressin in the body; in turn, this causes the kidneys to excrete more urine, causing fluid loss. This dehydration is responsible for several hangover symptoms, including headaches and fatigue.1

In fact, every standard serving of alcohol causes a net fluid loss of 3.5 fl oz, says Andreea Simo, manager of quality and regulatory for hydration-supplements brand HydraLyte. A 5-fl-oz glass of wine, for instance, causes 8.5 fl oz of fluid loss. Simo explains that HydraLyte’s formulation uses a precise ratio of water, electrolytes, and glucose to cause rapid rehydration, enabling the body to absorb water as soon as one starts drinking alcohol. HydraLyte also offers HydraLyte Plus Liver Support, which combines rehydration with antioxidants and vitamins that support liver function.

“The formula includes botanicals like milk thistle, which is popular for its liver health benefits,” Simo says. “Milk thistle has been recognized around the world for its beneficial impact on the liver and has been studied extensively in several human clinical trials. HydraLyte Plus Liver Support helps lower oxidative stress and combat free radicals, both of which have been shown to increase with alcohol consumption.”

Nutraceutical Gummy Bears Change the Pre-Game Routine

When it comes to hangovers, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sean O’Neill, founder of Toast! Supplements, says most hangover remedies fail because consumers take them at the wrong time.

“By the time you’re hung over, there’s nothing that can help you,” O’Neill says. “Not all the hydration and greasy food in the world can save you.”

That’s why Toast! Supplements created Before You Drink, a hangover remedy designed to be taken, as the name says, before one drinks. Before You Drink gummies consist of milk thistle, matcha green tea, Opuntia cacti (prickly pear cactus) powder, and L-cysteine, plus a variety of nutrients like zinc, niacin, and thiamine.

Before You Drink is rooted in research conducted by the Alcohol Hangover Research Group’s (AHRG) founder Joris Verster, PhD. AHRG was founded to promote research on alcohol-related hangovers.

“The AHRG has found that alcohol metabolism and the inflammatory response associated with alcohol consumption appear to be the [cause of hangovers],” O’Neill explains. “Research shows a significant relationship between cytokines and the severity of hangovers. Research has also found that individuals with higher levels of zinc and niacin report less-severe hangovers. Similarly, another study found prickly pear reduced hangover symptoms, seemingly through its anti-inflammatory effects.”

Nicotinamide Tablets Break Down Alcohol Byproducts

At least one hangover remedy is targeting alcohol directly with an enzyme-based approach. Sober Rush is a hangover remedy containing 60 mg of reduced beta-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH), or nicotinamide, per serving. The product was developed at the UCLA Cancer Center.

The root cause of a hangover is the buildup of acetaldehyde, Sober Rush said in a press release. The enzymes in Sober Rush break down acetaldehyde before it has an opportunity to cause hangover symptoms.

“NADH is the first discovery in the world that can be applied to unravel alcohol-induced liver damage,” said Sober Rush Founder Yong Wu, MD, PhD, in a press release. “By preventing most of the negative effects from alcohol from ever occurring, Sober Rush allows people to experience and enjoy alcohol more positively.”

Emerging Hangover Remedies Embrace Science

Gone are the days of old home remedies and folk cures. Whether it’s by reducing acetaldehyde, calming inflammation, or rapidly rehydrating the body, modern hangover supplements are demonstrating that they are effective because they’re rooted in science.


  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Hangovers. NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Updated March 2021.

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