'Tis the season to be jolly - but if you're been a bit too jolly during your festive caurousing, you may well be in the market for a hangover cure. I recently tested out buzz new food supplement Mrkyl, which contains patented bacteria, L-cysteine and vitamin B12 and claims to break down alcohol before it reaches your liver.
Anecdotally it seems to work but medical evidence is still scant so I asked various health professionals how they kick their own hangovers into touch. As you might expect, many of their remedies were slightly more sophisticated than the standard 'paracetamol + bacon sarnie'.
So here are the best drinks, supplements and pills to cure a hangover.... but first we are duty bound to remind you that NHS guidelines state the maximum safe drinking limit is 14 units per week, spread across at least three days. So take it easy with that mulled wine...
Best hangover cure for headaches: Hux hydration, £8, as recommended by dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting
“On the odd occasion that I'm hungover, I find the following cocktail helps me no end: dissolve two Hux hydration tablets in water, which is full of electrolytes and minerals to help rectify the dehydration,” says Dr Sam. It's that dehydration that causes vicious headaches. “And I meditate - as unlikely as this sounds, it really helps calm the mind jitters. Finally, my skin is often the thing that gives the game away. I tend to go a green colour when I'm hungover so I apply a thick layer of my ultra-hydrating Dr Sam’s Flawless Revival Mask in a steamy bath to aid skin penetration. This usually sorts me out!”
Best hangover cure for boosting electrolyte levels: Lucozade Sport, £1.75, recommended by Dr Zoe Watson, GP and founder of Wellgood Wellbeing
“As a first line of defence, I recommend spacer drinks – chasing every alcoholic drink with a soft one - to prevent the hangover in the first place. It does work really well,” says Dr Zoe. Too late? Go for a Lucozade Sport the morning after for an old school hangover cure. “It has all the same electrolytes as Dioralyte and doesn’t taste quite so disgusting. Electrolytes are the essential minerals that exist in our body. But when we drink alcohol, it suppresses the production of called ADH (anti-diuretic hormone or Vasopressin). This leads to an increase in urine production, causing us to urinate more, and lose more water from the body. When you lose excess water from the body, you lose electrolytes too.” Dr Zoe, a proud Glaswegian, also has a very personal, very niche hangover cure: “An ice cold can of Irn Bru, a Morton’s Crispy roll and square Lorne sausage - a perfect combination only obtainable in Glasgow. The saltiness of the sausage is perfect for replenishing lost electrolytes, while the sugar and caffeine from the Irn Bru will perk you right up!”
Best hangover cure to support your gut: Chuckling Goat kefir, £50, recommended by Dr Miguel Toribio-Mateas, clinical neuroscientist, applied microbiologist and head of R&D at Chuckling Goat
When it comes to minimizing hangovers, Dr Miguel takes a long-term view. He advises a balanced diet, with plenty of fresh produce and a source of health-promoting microbes, such as kefir. “Probiotics and prebiotics should be part of an integral approach to mitigate the effects of alcohol use on the body, particularly on liver health. Alcohol will be processed by the gut and liver in a less toxic way, which means fewer after-effects.” As for his kefir of choice: “Goat’s milk is much easier to digest than cow’s. Chuckling Goat provides 27 live beneficial live cultures, making it a wonderful and powerful food-based multi-strain probiotic. A daily smoothie made with Chuckling Goat’s kefir is a fantastic way to support your gut over the holiday season, and beyond.”
Best hangover cure to help your liver: Nutri Advanced Liver Support, £37.40, recommended by nutritionist Daniel O’Shaughnessy
Nutritionist Daniel O’Shaughnessy favours the herb milk thistle in combination with dandelion, both of which support liver function. It’s also found in CytoPlan CytoProtect Liver, £14.90, another of his top picks. But he strikes a note of caution: “If you’re needing to use a hangover formula frequently then it’s probably a good idea to evaluate your relationship with alcohol.”
Best hangover cure to rehydrate: Dioralyte, £3.50, recommended by nutritionist Emma Bardwell
Dioralyte is an oldie but a goodie, says nutritionist Emma Bardwell: “Take a sachet before bed and one the morning after. It rehydrates and replaces lost electrolytes which is essentially what causes a hangover.”
Best hangover cure for helping the liver break down toxins: Solgar N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine, £24.99, recommended by Dr Johanna Ward, GP and cosmetic doctor
“Over the years I have created my own regime of anti-histamines, omeprazole, glutathione, vitamin C, milk thistle and NAC to prevent hangovers,” says Dr Johanna Ward, GP and cosmetic doctor, who takes her “bits and bobs” a couple of hours before she has a drink and says she no-longer gets post alcohol migraines as a result.
“Omeprazole protects your tummy so you don’t get gastritis. Anti-histamines can help counteract histamine release from certain alcohols such as wine and prosecco, while NAC helps to support your liver while it has the arduous task of breaking down the toxins. NAC is a drug given for overdoses in A&E to protect the liver. It can help to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation during the breakdown process.”
Best hangover cure to reduce inflammation: Altrient Glutathione, £89.99, recommended by Dr Sophie Shotter
“If I know I’m going to be drinking, I’ll take this to prevent a hangover. It’s expensive and smell like farts but it works,” says aesthetic doctor Sophie Shotter. Glutathione, known as the body’s master antioxidant, is made up of amino acids glycine, cysteine and glutamic acid. It helps the liver eliminate the free radicals created by alcohol, thus reducing inflammation, which can cause, among other things, the dreaded hangover headaches. Because it’s poorly absorbed it needs to be taken in liposomal form such as this. Alternatively, it can be given via IV drip therapy.