Forget everything you thought you knew about hangovers. A newly released piece of research may just revolutionize how you rejuvenate after a night spent drinking. As if that wasn’t enough, researchers have also found compelling evidence that hangovers aren’t primarily caused by dehydration, mineral depletion, and loss of electrolytes.
First off, the study’s authors from Johannes Gutenberg-University have discovered that a unique plant extract combination of fruits, roots, and leaves was able to significantly relieve the hangover symptoms of a group of participants. The concoction given to subjects also included various vitamins and minerals, but the plant extract components appeared to be what made all the difference. Incredibly, the drink was able to ease participants’ hangover symptoms before they even appeared.
So what were these extracts? A mixture of ginger root, prickly pear, willow, ginkgo biloba, and Barbados cherries (Acerola).
There are tons of supposed hangover cures available on the market today, but what works for one person may not help another. For all of mankind’s incredible feats, we still don’t have a sure-fire hangover treatment that helps everyone. We can put a man on the moon, but somehow hangovers are still ruining many a Sunday morning.
That’s why the research team behind this study set out to conduct their experiments. To that end, they recruited 214 healthy adults of varying ages (18-65 years old) and randomly split them into three groups. All three groups were told to drink a supplied beverage 45 minutes before, and immediately after they ended a night of drinking alcohol.
The first group (69 people) received a supplement containing the aforementioned plant extracts, as well as vitamins and minerals (magnesium, potassium, zinc, etc) and some antioxidants. The second group (76 people) were given a supplement containing only vitamins and minerals, and the third group (69 people) were given a placebo.
The type and amount of alcohol that each person consumed were kept track of, as well as how many times participants urinated between 5-9 PM that evening. On average, all the subjects drank about the same amount.
Blood and urine samples were taken, in addition to blood pressure measurements. All of those tests were administered three times; once at five o’clock, again at nine o’clock, and once more the following morning. In the morning participants also filled out a survey inquiring about their perceived hangover symptoms.
Overwhelmingly, participants who were given the supplement containing plant extracts reported much less severe hangover symptoms. Compared to the placebo group, the plant extract group experienced less intense headaches by 34%, 42% milder nausea, 41% less restlessness, and 27% fewer feelings of indifference. The vitamin group reported hangover symptoms very similar in severity to the placebo group.
While there is some prior scientific research that backs up the notion that certain compounds found in these plant extracts can remedy the harmful effects of alcohol, these findings are mostly unprecedented. Moreover, the study’s authors say they are unsure exactly how the plant extracts are able to stop hangovers so decisively.
“The underlying mechanisms remain to be unraveled and surely need further investigation,” the study reads.
The fact that vitamins and minerals alone didn’t seem to benefit participants all that much also has another significant implication. It’s widely believed that drinking alcohol disrupts a person’s electrolyte and mineral balances, but these findings contradict that idea. Additionally, there was no association noted between alcohol consumption and hydration levels within participants’ bodies.
“Our results suggest that alcohol-induced increased fluid excretion does not necessarily lead to a significant dehydration process,” the researchers write. “It seems to be clear that hangover symptoms are predominantly caused by alcohol and its metabolites.”
As incredible as an effective hangover cure is, those last results may be more noteworthy. Is it possible that we’ve had the cause of hangovers wrong this entire time? Clearly, more research is needed on this topic.
The full study can be found here, published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.