The morning after going out is a rough one. One too many drinks the night before can leave you wishing you had never gone out in the first place. You’ve probably tried all those hangover remedies like chugging water before bed, drinking Pedialyte or eating the greasiest food you could find, but you probably haven’t tried a B12 hangover remedy.
- B12 Could Be Your Savior
- “Pre-tox” Ritual
- Hangovers and Vitamin B
- B-Vitamins for a Hangover: Do They Work?
- Does mixing drinks make a hangover worse?
- Does taking a painkiller before bed help a hangover?
- Does eating before bed absorb the alcohol and help a hangover?
- Does a morning drink (‘hair of the dog’) help a hangover?
- Does taking vitamin C help a hangover?
- Does coffee help a hangover?
- Found this useful? Now read…
B12 Could Be Your Savior
Taking a B12 supplement has many benefits because B12 is needed for your body to function. B12 plays a key role in the functioning of the brain and nervous system, but many take it to boost mood and energy, to strengthen the immune system and for healthy skin and hair. However, B12 has a hidden talent that many are not aware of: it’s one of the greatest hangover cures.
Because alcohol is a diuretic, it depletes a lot of nutrients and vitamins from your body. According to Dr. Mercola, B vitamin is one of those vitamins, which is problematic because your body requires B vitamin to eliminate alcohol from your body. The loss of B vitamin could be the cause of the fatigue, dizziness and even memory loss you experience the morning after drinking. So, Dr. Mercola suggests a “pre-tox” if you know you’re going to be drinking that night.
“Pre-tox,” a solution of a lifetime, involves taking a B vitamin supplement before drinking as well as the morning after. Taking a B vitamin supplement before and after drinking alcohol will replenish the amount of B vitamin in your body and allow it to function and recover properly from a night out on the town. Developing this a ritual before a night of drinking can save you from those horrible hangovers the next day. People who do this swear by specifically taking a B12 supplement, but a B-Complex supplement works the same.
#SpoonTip: If you’re looking for a B12 supplement, look for a dissolvable tablet that reaches your body through the bloodstream, rather than stomach!
I’m going to be honest, B vitamin supplements don’t taste or smell the best, but if you suffer from awful hangovers, the benefits are definitely worth it. However, be sure not to overdo it. Taking a B12 or B-complex supplement is said to help, but it’s definitely not a guarantee. If you take a B vitamin supplement, and it doesn’t work, don’t just take more. Combining a the supplement with drinking a healthy amount of water, eating a good meal and getting plenty of rest the next day should do the trick.
#SpoonTip: Don’t be alarmed if your urine turns neon yellow after taking a B vitamin supplement. It’s the B2!
A B12 hangover remedy can be life-saving, but in general, consumption of alcohol depletes many different vitamins from your body, not just B vitamin. Taking other daily vitamin supplements like vitamin A, C, D and E as well is beneficial to keeping your body functioning and filled with all the vitamins it needs. Also, always remember to stay hydrated, especially when drinking alcohol!
Hangovers and Vitamin B
Various vitamin depletion can be part of the reason we get hangovers and vitamin B levels tend to get tapped out when we drink. Therefore, in theory, a vitamin B supplement could potentially be beneficial as a mitigating agent before or after we go out drinking to avoid a hangover.
Tackling Hangovers and Vitamin B-Complex supplementation
There are several types of Vitamin B so when looking for a supplement make sure to get a quality B-complex. There are also ways to get different types of B through food (e.g., bananas).
Before You Go To Bed and After
Follow up the night with another glass of water and then perhaps another vitamin B supplement in the morning. The vitamins in a B-complex are generally water-soluble but don’t overdo it either. Make sure you eat something before you start taking vitamins and/or any pain reliever to ensure you do not upset your stomach (which is likely already compromised).
Final Thoughts on Hangovers and Vitamin B
Stick with this ritual and you may just find yourself a bit better off in the morning. There is no magic pill to avoiding a hangover completely. That said, even though Vitamin B supplements won’t stop the side effects of major drinking, if you put them on the guest list, your next morning could potentially be a bit easier.
B-Vitamins for a Hangover: Do They Work?
We’ve all had a booze-fueled night of fun that may not always lead to the most pleasant of mornings. This common ailment, called a hangover, may make you feel sick to your stomach, but it’s also interfering with your body’s ability to absorb vitamins it takes in, particularly B vitamins.
For starters, alcohol is a diuretic, so you lose a lot of vitamins and nutrients while you are drinking. The most important of which are vitamins B and C. Some people that use a vitamin B complex — a pill that includes B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), folic acid, B6 and B12, among others — to combat hangovers swear by their effectiveness. The most heralded is B12 (also called cobalamin), which performs a key role in the functioning of the brain and nervous system. The question is: will these vitamins help with the alcohol hangover?
While there isn’t much science proving the effectiveness of this method, the extra vitamins shouldn’t do you any harm – quite the opposite, actually. Supplements have proven popular over the last few years as people opt for a more natural approach to health remedies. And B vitamins are very important in the healing of the brain during a hangover. If your body is lacking on B vitamins, it’s going to take longer for the brain to heal.
How alcohol leads to vitamin-deficiency
Frequent drinking contributes to B vitamin-deficiency, leading to a series of memory and mood disorders. More specifically, drinking alcohol depletes the body of B vitamins, which play key roles in hundreds of metabolic pathways.3 For frequent drinkers, this may explain why excess alcohol consumption seems to be linked with significant decreases in mood, motivation, and energy.
For the occasional binge drinker, the sudden depletion in B vitamin status may be linked to the “foggy” symptoms of the hangover. In a study on healthy male drinkers, alcohol intake demonstrated a significant increase in homocysteine levels and a reduction in B9 and B12 levels.4 Supplementing a well-rounded, easy-to-absorb B vitamin complex may help both regular and irregular drinkers sustain healthy B vitamin levels to protect against circulatory issues and brain chemical deficiencies.
Studies about B Vitamin and Hangovers
In another study, a supplement containing vitamins B-1 and B-6 was shown to help reduce hangover symptoms.5 In this 2012 study, subjects were sent a supplement and were encouraged to take it before and after drinking alcohol. Of the subjects who completed the study, 88 percent reported a reduction in hangover symptoms.
Work published in the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol studied the effect of a type of Vitamin B-6 known as pyritinol on the development of hangovers.1 Subjects received pyritinol or a placebo before, during, and after a party in which they drank alcohol. Those who received the pyritinol reported fewer symptoms of a hangover the next morning than those receiving a placebo. However, this work was published in 1973 and more up-to-date research is required to confirm its benefits.
Food Sources of B Vitamin
So now we know it – drinking alcohol definitely depletes vitamins in the body. And B-vitamins are responsible for many metabolic processes of the body — the liver detox pathways rely on B’s to detox effectively. So, raising your levels of B vitamins will be helpful.
If you don’t want to go the supplement route, having foods rich in these essential vitamins and minerals is a good strategy to help lessen the hangover. The number one way to accomplish this is to eat a very good diet full of fruits, veggies, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, good fats etc. You know the drill.
There are many ways to get different types of B through food. For instance, Thiamin (B1) is found in peas, pork, liver, legumes and is often added to different grain products like cereal, bread, pasta, rice and tortillas. Riboflavin (B2) is found in liver, eggs, dark green vegetables, legumes, whole and enriched grains and milk. Niacin (B3) is found in liver, fish, poultry, meat, peanuts and whole and enriched grains. Food sources of Vitamin B-6 include pork, meats, whole grains, cereals, legumes, and green, leafy vegetables. Vitamin B-12 is found from animal sources like meats, eggs, milk, oysters and shellfish.
As you saw, a vitamin B supplement could potentially be beneficial as a mitigating agent before or after we go consume alcoholic drinks to avoid a hangover. So it’s helpful to take a B-complex supplement before drinking for hangover prevention, as well as when you come home, or first thing the next day to replenish lost Bs from drinking.
B vitamins are effective at replenishing nutrients lost as a result of heavy drinking, but they won’t necessarily cure all the symptoms of a hangover, which is also caused by the byproducts of alcohol metabolism, congeners, and dehydration. This leads us to the million-dollar question: is there anything else out there that will help? Despite thousands of searches for the phrase “hangover cure,” science has yet to find a consistent and credible solution to curb the headache, nausea, vomiting, irritation, tremor, thirst, and dry mouth that can plague you after a night of drinking. Having said that, some well-known strategies may help ease the pain – including taking a hangover multivitamin like Purple Tree, which includes B-vitamin, minerals, and DHM to help mitigate the after-effects of too much drinking.
1 Alcohol-induced hangover: A double-blind comparison of pyritinol and placebo in preventing hangover symptoms.
2 Interventions for preventing or treating alcohol hangover: systematic review of randomized controlled trials
3 Effects of moderate alcohol consumption on folate and vitamin B12 status in postmenopausal women
4Alcohol increases homocysteine and reduces B vitamin concentration in healthy male volunteers–a randomized, crossover intervention study
5 Consumer Satisfaction and Efficacy of the Hangover Cure After-Effect
A shot of a stressed and ill businesswoman
If your famous last words—”just one more”—routinely turns into three or four, you might have already sought the help of one of the many so-called hangover cures currently on the market. These powders, pills, and miracle beverages promise a night’s worth of poor choices without any (okay, some) of the morning-after regrets.
The Claim: Throw it back up to an hour before or while drinking to help neutralize and process the toxins that contribute to hangovers.
The Review: Given its ingredients, this one has a pretty good shot of delivering on its promises. Thiamine, for instance, is a B vitamin that can run low following a night of overindulging, and deficiencies are linked with classic hangover symptoms like fatigue and off-kilter balance. Milk thistle, another key ingredient, is known to support liver health, Mass says. This drink’s not perfect, though. While zero carbs, calories, and sugars sounds good in theory, your body needs all three to get back in shape. And keep in mind, the label warns against taking it if you have diarrhea or abdominal pain. It also contains aloe vera, which can actually worsen such already-unpleasant symptoms.
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The Claim: Mix one pouch with water and drink just before going to bed and again in the morning to help rehydrate and replace lost electrolytes from drinking.
The Review: While primarily designed to hydrate athletes, not guys suffering from splitting headaches, it can also help ease post-drink dehydration, says its website. And if it’s good enough for professional surfers, basketball players, and triathletes, it’s probably good enough for the average drunk, says Mass. Each little pouch contains six times the electrolytes—including sodium potassium, magnesium, citrate, and chloride—of the average sports drink. Most important, it gets a load of fluids in you, which is the No. 1 thing a dehydrated body needs, Schaefer says. It doesn’t have much in the way of carbs or sugar, but it still provides a little boost to help get your blood-sugar levels back up.
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Bytox Hangover Prevention Patch
The Claim: Stick the patch on a hairless spot of your body at least 45 minutes before consuming alcohol and keep it on for at least eight hours after you stop, and the patch will replenish lost vitamins and acids.
The Review: If you’re a fan of seasickness patches, this one might be worth a go. It has loads of B vitamins, but without ordering some lab tests, it’s hard to know exactly how and if this one works, Schaefer says. Word around the office, though, is that it works like pretty darn well.
The Claim: Get your liver back in the game so it can rid your body of hangover-causing toxins.
The Review: “Some of the active ingredients are quite redeeming when it comes to detoxifying and providing powerful antioxidants,” Mass says. It also includes milk thistle, picrorhiza root, and ginseng, all of which have been shown to ease alcohol’s effects. Plus, the sodium and potassium here can help get hydration and electrolyte levels closer to where they need to be for your head to stop pounding, Schaefer says.
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The Claim: Hold the liquid in your mouth for 15 seconds, swallow, and then chase it with at least 12 ounces of water. In 30 minutes, it will slash the number of toxins in your body and strengthen your liver.
The Review: While the liquid comes from a so-called “propriety blend of herbal ingredients,” we were able to find out it contains turmeric-root extract, astragalus, and poria, all of which have been used in traditional herbal medicines for centuries and have been found to promote general markers of good health. “It’s possible this combination of extracts could support a healthy inflammatory response,” Mass says. But the research just isn’t there to back them up as a hangover remedy quite yet. Of course, there’s only one way to know for sure.
Blowfish for Hangovers
The Claim: The morning after, dissolve two tablets in two cups of water and drink up to help rehydrate, restore alertness, and relieve headaches.
The Review: While it contains some sodium, which can help your body absorb lost water, its main ingredients are aspirin (500 mg) and caffeine (60 mg), meaning it’s pretty much the same as drinking coffee and popping Tylenol the day-after, Schaefer says. Also, since the tablets are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, even if they don’t quell your hangover, they’re considered safe to take. “However, it’s important to understand that this product isn’t looking to support the body, liver, or toxic concerns associated with alcohol consumption,” Mass says. So don’t get your hopes too high.
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Nature Made Energy B12 Adult Gummies
The Claim: Eat two gummies a day to support cellular energy production.
The Review: Although these are more general health supplement than hangover cure, B12 has recently become code for “hangover relief.” However, your body can’t easily absorb B12 through your gut, Mass says. Plus, without getting too science-y about it, the gummies contain a synthetic rather than an active form of B12, which is difficult for many people to convert into useable B12. If you’re hell-bent on taking B12 post-binge, look for methylcobalamin in a dissolvable tablet that gets into your bloodstream via your mouth’s tissues, rather than your stomach’s.
The Claim: Developed by a registered nurse, these lozenges are meant to be taken with water to replace lost vitamins and curb headaches, upset stomachs, dry mouth, and mild dehydration.
The Review: “It’s great to see a product with vitamin C,” says Mass. “We need this to power up our antioxidant system in the body and fight off alcohol byproducts and toxins,” Mass says. They’re also are full of B vitamins, which we already know are great for hangovers, and if you opt for the ginger-flavored tablets, you could reap some of the root’s stomach-settling benefits.
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The Claim: Take three capsules before drinking and then again at the end of your night. Or, if you want to up your liver’s health in general, take one capsule daily.
The Review: “It has a decent amount of vitamin C, a nice B-complex, and a blend for the liver that includes milk thistle and N-acytel-cysteine, which boosts levels of glutathione, another important antioxidant that helps fight the toxic effects of alcohol’s metabolic byproducts. They’re not adding ingredients at low doses just for the sake of putting it on the label; it appears each ingredient is well thought out,” Mass says.
ATLANTA — The new ad campaign for Coca-Cola’s Vitaminwater hints at a use for enhanced waters and sports drinks that is part of conventional wisdom among many college students and young professionals: hangover relief.
The ads debuted during the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, and according to a Wall Street Journal report, are part of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola’s effort to revitalize the brand, which it bought for $4.1 billion in 2007. After a decade of fast growth, Vitaminwater’s sales volume slipped 22% last year, the report, citing Beverage Digest em>, as price-conscious consumers traded down to tap water and, in some cases, sodas.
One of the new spots, called “Epic Night,” features a young male character getting knocked in the head with a hammer, while a voiceover asks, “Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed, minus the bed? Your brain’s throbbing, and your face is in a pile of nachos?”
The voiceover goes on to assert that Vitaminwater’s purple “Revive” flavor has B vitamins and potassium, and will help rehydrate you after “these apparently epic nights.”
Matt Kahn, Vitaminwater’s head of marketing, pointed out that the ad never says the young man has been drinkingthumping club music and the mysterious appearance of a horse and buggy aside. “He’s just had a big night,” Kahn told the newspaper. “You can take away from that what you wish.”
Vitaminwater similarly skirts a claim in a spot called “Strong Man,” in which its pink “Power-C” flavored Vitaminwater gives a boost to a pillow-headed character wrapped in a blanket on the couch. “Player,” says the voiceover, “You ain’t strong when you’re whining about, ‘Microwave me some soup, baby’.”
Is the guy sick? “He’s sluggish,” Kahn said. “We’re not saying Vitaminwater cures anything,” he added. “What we are saying is there are all sorts of situations where you need and want nutrients and hydration.”
In both ads, Vitaminwater is tapping into the idea that it is good to replenish fluids and nutrients, no matter the reason for losing them, said the Journal.
Mass retailers sometimes display enhanced waters or sports drinks beside hand sanitizers and thermometers during cold and flu season. Convenience stores regularly ring up bottles of sports drinks alongside cases of beer, the report said.
Alcohol researcher John Brick said there is some science behind the idea that drinks like Vitaminwater improve hangover symptoms such as malaise, weakness and headache. Some sugars help metabolize alcohol, and ingredients such as potassium and electrolytes help re-establish healthy body function, he added. “The key is to rehydrate,” Brick, author of The Doctor’s Hangover Handbook, told the paper. “If you’re drinking Vitaminwater or plain water or Gatorade or Alka-Seltzer, those are all going to be helpful.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in at least three cases, has brought complaints against companies touting unproven hangover cures in ads, Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC’s advertising-practices division, told the Journal. He declined to comment on the Vitaminwater ads. “Three college guys in a dorm saying it cured my hangover is not science,” Cleland said.
Kahn said the Vitaminwater ads were cleared by Coca-Cola’s scientific and regulatory division.
The Vitaminwater campaign is a departure for the brand, which is best known for its testimonial spots featuring celebrities like rapper 50 Cent, an early investor and namesake of the “Formula 50” flavor.
The new spots, designed by Venice, Calif., sports-marketing firm Zambezi, play down celebrities, though they are voiced by comedians Danny McBride and Marlon Wayans. Kahn said the ads aim to replicate in picture and sound the cheeky language in the fine print on the product’s bottles.
The campaign also includes three coming TV ads, online videos, billboards and a new metallic bottle label with a “nutrient matrix”an enlarged box highlighting specific vitamins and minerals in the product, in addition to the “Nutrition Facts” panel required by regulators, said the report.
Coca-Cola would not tell the Journal how much it is spending on the campaign, but said it represents a major push. Coca-Cola spent more than $60 million in both 2008 and 2009 to promote the Vitaminwater brand, according to the report, citing an ad-tracking company owned by WPP.
This is not the first time Vitaminwater has touted itself as a morning-after aid, the report said. Last year, the brand’s Canadian unit sent influential bloggers samples of Vitaminwater accompanied by some findings from a drinking survey (“47% of Canadians won’t give up drinking, even if it means we’ll be hugging the porcelain god the next day”).
A spokesperson for Gatorade, which dominates the sports-drink niche, said Gatorade does not advertise itself as a cure for ailments, even in a tongue-in-cheek way. “We are focused on athletes and fueling athletic performance only,” she told the paper.
Damn. Here I was, thinking I’d spotted a major new trend-apparent: cocktails designed to combine nutritional value with alcoholic value. It was happening in LA and New York (surprise, surprise), and being reported (in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere) as a new kind of functional drink – the Red-Bull-and-vodka idea for drinkers whose taste-buds are not informed by ham-and-pineapple-pizza-flavour crisps. That is to say: energy and enervation, the disease and the cure, in a single glass. You could acquire the hangover and the cure simultaneously.
It sounded great. The only problem is that it seems to be nothing more than an alcoholic flash in the bedpan. None of the bartenders I spoke to in New York knew much about vitamin cocktails, and none seemed to care much. The cocktails, it turns out, are little more than vodka mixed with ingredients that include “vitamin water”, the micronutrient-laced H2Os reported on in these pages last year. My bartender contacts were dismissive of the “Dragonfruit Vitaminwater Martini” served at Mirabelle, on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip: vodka, pineapple juice and the eponymous vitamin water made by Glaceau.
A more intriguing development seemed to come in the form of Zygo, a potato vodka developed by an Idaho potato farmer. This is an opportunistic vodka if ever there was one, enriched with ingredients including taurine, guarana and yerba mate. And made palatable, or so the theory goes (I couldn’t track down a bottle for tasting), by peach, mandarin and vanilla. Zygo seems to be aimed at clubbers – the ads reportedly call it a “morning vodka”, and a company spokesman says, “It’s about being able to sustain your evening… about being able to make the after-after party.” In short, it’s not about taste but about function: knock ’em down, pick ’em up. The only place I’ve heard of Zygo going in cocktails is Centro-Fly, a bar in Manhattan’s trendy Flatiron district known primarily for its music.
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I can’t say I’ll be surprised if these drinks fall flat on their functional faces. While I have no principled objection to functional food and drink, I find this pushme-pullyou approach to alcohol consumption slightly alarming. If you are going to drink, drink like a grown-up. Don’t think you can magically undo alcohol’s effects even as you’re setting them in motion.
In New York, as always, grown-ups seem to have a different agenda. There, the usual guiding aim of the discernimenti is to breathe new life into old, classic ideas rather than invent new concepts with no pedigree and little likelihood of staying power. And nowhere is this made clearer than in the mulled wine made at Manhattan’s renowned Gramercy Tavern (42 East 20th Street, tel: 001 212 477 0777). It serves it as an alternative to traditional digestifs, and it is a doozy.
What’s more, the procedure is simplicity itself. Into the pitcher go four tablespoons of sugar, a few prunes (plus optional other dried fruit), a quartered orange, two sticks of cinnamon, six cloves and any other spices you normally like to sniff in mulled wine.
Boil water – you need four generous tablespoons – and pour into the pitcher. Stir well and steep for a few minutes. Add half a bottle of wine, 100ml of port or cherry brandy, and stir again. Cover tightly, and refrigerate until needed. It’s designed for drinking warm, obviously, but it’s works on ice as a warm-weather drink too. It tastes great. It warms body and spirit equally and it’s a lot better, I’d wager, than a cocktail with vitamins attached.
While no-one would recommend drinking to excess, chances are that we’ve all had times when we’ve had a little bit too much to drink. The symtoms of a hangover are easy to spot – tiredness, thirst, nausea and a pounding headache – and are unpleasant enough to make you desperate for a quick-fix cure. But does such a thing exist? We asked Dr Sarah Jarvis, a medical advisor to Drinkaware, to tell us what makes a hangover worse, what might make it better, and what has no effect at all.
Does mixing drinks make a hangover worse?
Possibly, but largely because you are more likely to underestimate your intake and therefore may drink more. All alcohol can cause hangovers, but dark drinks (such as port or dark spirits) tend to be the worst offenders because they contain congeners (chemicals which contribute to their taste and colour). Mixing drinks means you’re more likely to have drinks containing congeners.
Does taking a painkiller before bed help a hangover?
Probably not – most painkillers only work for a few hours, so their effect is likely to have worn off by the morning.
Does eating before bed absorb the alcohol and help a hangover?
No – by the time you get to bed, the alcohol will have left your stomach and been absorbed into your bloodstream, so it’s too late to have any effect on absorbing alcohol. Aim to eat before drinking (and drink in moderation) instead.
Does a morning drink (‘hair of the dog’) help a hangover?
Categorically not. It may conceivably postpone the inevitable hangover, but it’s likely to be worse when you do get it.
Does taking vitamin C help a hangover?
No – there is absolutely no evidence for this. The celebrities seen having intravenous infusions of vitamins and minerals to prevent or treat hangovers are kidding themselves and wasting their money!
Does coffee help a hangover?
Possibly slightly. Hangovers are caused by a combination of your body having been hit with a dose of toxin (alcohol), the effect of congeners, lack of quality sleep (your body’s sleep rhythm is disturbed by alcohol so you’re likely to wake early, having had poor quality sleep) and dehydration. In moderate quantities, coffee can help to rehydrate you. Caffeine can also raise your levels of alertness, but it won’t help with other aspects of the hangover.
Found this useful? Now read…
Despite our best intentions, many of us get carried away every now and then. If you’re feeling a little worse for wear read our guide to easing the effects of alcohol the morning after.
How to drink responsibly
Hangover cures: Fact or fiction?
How many calories are in alcoholic drinks?
How many units are in alcoholic drinks?
Visit the Drinkaware website
This article was last reviewed on 21st November 2018 by Dr Sarah Jarvis.
Dr Sarah Jarvis is a general practitioner working in Shepherd’s Bush, London, England, and she also works in the mass media to promote health. She was educated at Millfield and qualified as a medical doctor in July 1986 from University of Oxford. She is the health and medical reporter for The One Show and is a medical advisor to Drinkaware.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.
Have you heard of any strange hangover myths? Let us know in the comments below…