The signs are obvious. You wake up and don't remember when you fell asleep. Last night's highs and lows return in comic relief, and you realize you have a throbbing headache. Cottonmouth in full swing, you leap to the bathroom as the nausea hits like a fireball on an empty stomach. And why is it so bright outside? Perhaps you had one drink too many last night -- yep, it's all coming back to you now. There's no official diagnosis for a hangover, so there's no official cure. But here are 17 of the best hangover remedies proven by science to help you feel better.
1. Cactus Extract
Called Opuntia ficus-indica, or prickly pear, cactus extract might help alleviate some hangover symptoms, including nausea, lack of appetite and dry mouth. In a small 2004 study of 55 people, subjects who took a cactus extract supplement two hours before drinking five to 10 drinks were 50 percent less likely to experience severe hangover symptoms. They reported less dry mouth, nausea and appetite loss.
2. Green Juice Smoothie
Derek Castro, the co-owner of San Francisco-based fresh juice company Sow, has developed a special juice recipe that he specifically designed to "reactivate the body" after a night on the town. Key ingredients include apple, lemon (including the peel), celery, parsley, mint and ginger. He also throws in a handful each of kale and spinach. In addition to squelching nausea with ginger, the concoction has anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, vasodilation and antioxidant properties. With B vitamins courtesy of the kale, this sweet-and-spicy green juice offers "a big lift out of the mud," says Castro.
3. Vitamin B Complex
Your body leaches vitamins as it works to metabolize alcohol -- especially vitamin B. Heavy doses of a vitamin B complex before, during and after drinking may mitigate intense hangover symptoms by helping your body replenish its vitamin B supply. One study gave participants 1,200 milligrams of vitamin B-6 at the beginning of a party, 400 milligrams three hours later and 400 milligrams at the end of the party. The study participants experienced about 50 percent fewer hangover symptoms.
4. Coconut Water
Hydration and potassium: These two may be your new best friends when it comes to recovering from a big night out. Rehydrating is key to conquering a hangover, and potassium can be lost with frequent urination (and the unfortunate situation of vomiting). Coconut water is both hydrating and high in potassium. It's also easier on your stomach than other more acidic options like orange juice.
4. Milk Thistle
Alcoholic binges create a cascade of symptoms ranging from headaches and nausea to racing heart, sweating, muscle soreness and more, depending on who's doing the drinking and how. Also known as silybum marianum, this ancient Mediterranean herb aids in liver function and helps ward off toxins. It's often taken as a treatment for hepatitis and cirrhosis. "Basically," says Ron Alvarado, CEO of the cocktail fortifier company Ficks, "it soothes your liver and helps it function in times of stress." The workhorse ingredient is silymarin, which is extracted from the seeds of the plant and easily found in tablet or capsule form. Consult with your doctor before taking.
Alcohol prompts the stomach to overproduce hydrochloric acid, which results in that familiar nausea and upset stomach the next day. So when Ficks CEO Ron Alvarado was developing the formula for his hangover-reducing cocktail fortifier, ginger root was the first ingredient on his list. An old Asian cure, this kitchen spice helps soothe the stomach -- whether it's upset from seasickness, a stomach bug (ginger ale, anyone?) or a wild night out at a party. Take a supplement as soon as you wake up feeling wonky, or take the advice of Sow juice co-founder Derek Castro and add one or two slices to your morning green juice or smoothie.
This one isn't so cut and dried. Alcohol disrupts REM sleep and leaves you feeling tired the next day, which can have you reaching for the coffee pot. If you're already a coffee enthusiast, this might be OK after all, since you might experience a massive headache from skipping your morning caffeine. But if a cup of joe isn't part of your a.m. regimen, skip it. Coffee is a natural diuretic and could leave you feeling worse.
Read more: The 11 Worst Coffee Drinks to Order
The dehydrating effects of alcohol can ultimately lead to an electrolyte imbalance, so rehydrating with an electrolyte-enhanced drink works faster than just water alone. Playboy's former nightlife columnist Dan Dunn likes LyteShow, an electrolyte-replenishing liquid concentrate created specifically for active people who drink alcohol. Key ingredients include magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, zinc and citric acid. "Drink it before you go out and at the end of the night," Dunn recommends.
You might crave a big, greasy breakfast the next morning, but forget the bacon and home fries and stick with just the eggs. Eggs are high in an amino acid called cysteine, which helps your liver get rid of acetaldehyde, the toxic byproduct of alcohol. And eggs are easy on your stomach; your body will thank you after a hard night.
Read more: 9 Egg Breakfasts in 10 Minutes or Less
10. Miso Soup
Most soups make a great hangover cure, thanks to their water and salt content. Water rehydrates your body, and the sodium helps your body hold on to that water. Miso soup goes the extra mile. Miso is made from fermented soybeans, and fermented foods help keep your gut healthy, something your stomach could use after some heavy drinking.
If your visits to the bathroom seem more frequent when you're on a bender, it's not your imagination: You really are hitting the loo more than you normally do. "Alcohol inhibits the hormone that regulates kidney function," Blowfish CEO Brenna Haysom explains, "so the body produces excess urine, leading to dehydration." This ultimately leaches key nutrients, which has a domino effect on the body's ability to recover. Signs of dehydration span far more than simple thirst; you can thank dehydration for those trademark headaches, weakness and dizziness as well.
Read more: 16 Snacks That Are OK to Eat at Night
CEO Ron Alvarado and COO Matt McDonald created lightly flavored cocktail fortifier Ficks to be added to mixed drinks to help prevent hangovers before they start. Key ingredients include liver-calming milk thistle; digestion-aiding dandelion extract; nausea-calming gingerroot; electrolytes sodium and potassium; a vitamin B complex that aids in alcohol detoxification; and amino acids that aid in liver detoxification.
13. Blowfish Tablet
Fizzy, lemon-flavored Blowfish tablets dissolve in water and are meant to be taken the morning after a night of drinking. Key ingredients include caffeine and aspirin. The caffeine boosts the anti-inflammatory properties of the effervescent aspirin tablets, which pass quickly through the stomach without irritation, says CEO Brenna Haysom. This delivery method also means they reach the bloodstream about twice as fast as a regular pill. It's the only hangover product with a formulation recognized as effective by the FDA.
Read more: Learn More About Blowfish
Bananas are part of the BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) diet, which helps to relieve an upset stomach, something your body might know a thing or two about when enduring a hangover. Bananas are bland, making them easy on the gut, and they're high in potassium, which you can lose through excessive urinating and vomiting -- two unfortunate results of drinking too much.
If you're making eggs the next morning, throw in some chopped asparagus. Although these green stalks give your urine an "off" odor, they also help protect your liver from toxins associated with alcohol consumption and alleviate the icky hangover feeling. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Food Science found that even the parts that are often tossed -- leaves and parts of the young shoots -- can help too.
16. Korean Pear Juice
Korean pear juice is used to prevent getting a hangover in the first place. A 2013 study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology found that drinking this pear juice can help with trouble concentrating, and it may help metabolize alcohol. What's more, Korean pear juice was found to help reduce sensitivity to light -- so you can stop hiding behind the sunglasses.
If you have children, you are probably familiar with this product. If not, the last time you saw Pedialyte was when you got lost in the grocery store. While the formula was created to replenish fluids and electrolytes in sick children, adults have found it helpful when dehydration leaves them crying like a baby, according to Ron Alvarado, CEO of the cocktail fortifier company Ficks. Because it's flavored, you might find it easier to take down compared to plain water.
Read more: 7 Surprising Benefits of Fermented Foods
What Do YOU Think?
Do you get hangovers? What works best to help you feel better? Have you tried any of the methods listed in this slideshow? Leave a comment below and let us know.