Public Release: 

No evidence that hangover cures work

Interventions for preventing or treating alcohol hangover: Systematic review of randomised controlled trials; BMJ Volume 331, pp 1515-7

BMJ

No compelling evidence exists to suggest that any complementary or conventional intervention is effective for treating or preventing alcohol hangover, say researchers in this week's BMJ.

In Britain, alcohol hangovers account for about £2bn in lost wages each year, mostly due to sickness absence, and a plethora of "hangover cures" is on offer.

The team searched medical databases and the internet, and contacted experts and manufacturers for randomised controlled trials of any medical intervention for preventing or treating alcohol hangover.

They found eight trials testing eight different agents: propranolol (beta-blocking drug), tropisetron (drug for nausea and vertigo), tolfenamic acid (painkiller), fructose or glucose, and the dietary supplements borage, artichoke, prickly pear, and a yeast based preparation.

Most trials reported no beneficial effects, although encouraging findings existed for borage, a yeast based preparation, and tolfenamic acid.

"We are confident that our search strategy located all published trials on the subject," say the authors. "Our findings show no compelling evidence to suggest that any complementary or conventional intervention is effective for treating or preventing the alcohol hangover."

The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is thus to practise abstinence or moderation, they conclude.

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