Science's Best Hangover Cures

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Every year about this time, everybody publishes a list of hangover cures or prevention tips, or debuts some new product meant to ease the pain, as if New Year's Eve was the only time people ever drank. But there are some scientifically proven remedies that will actually work, every day. You have your folk remedies or your comfort foods or your routine that all help just because they give solace (and a drinker needs that for what Kingsley Amis calls the metaphysical hangover). But really a hangover is a physical process, or at least the result of one, and there do exist actual remedies that help reverse it. Most of those are chemicals and compounds found in a big variety of foods and supplements, so instead of asking you to trust our own recipes or favorite morning-after foods, we'll just share the most effective of those chemicals and you can ingest them as you like.

  • Cysteine: Already one of the most popular treatments because it shows up in eggs, which tend to anchor the Sunday brunch many drinkers rely on, cysteine is an amino acid that helps your liver out. How Stuff Works explains it is "the substance that breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde in the liver's easily depleted glutathione." That means it can take some of the strain off your liver by helping to get rid of lingering toxins. And fear not, vegans and ovaphobes: Plenty of other foods contain cysteine, including poultry, oats, yogurt, broccoli, red pepper, garlic, onions, Brussels sprouts, wheat germ, and dairy.
  • Potassium: Alcohol makes you pee a lot, and that means that not only do you get dehydrated, you drain a lot of important nutrients, chief among them potassium. A George Mason University researcher writes, "In addition to the liquid expelled during frequent urination, certain salts and potassium -- required for proper nerve and muscle function -- are also lost." Naturally, the go-to potassium delivery agent is bananas. But you can branch out starting with this University of Michigan list that includes things you might actually want to eat with a hangover, such as potato chips, orange juice, and avocados.

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