The instructions on each packet of “100% Korean Pear Juice” are simple enough: “Drink Me Before Alcohol”. I down a couple packs of the delicious juice and go on my merry way into the night.
So what’s so great about Korean pears? I called up Dr Sarah Benson, a senior research fellow at Swinburne University’s Centre for Human Psychopharmacology. “Korean pear juice may be able to stimulate some of the key enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of alcohol,” she explains.
“If alcohol can be metabolised quicker, then it’s in the body for less time, and then that will result in reduced hangover severity.” Promising. “However,” she continues, “for where we are at the moment with the evidence … there’s just not enough to be entirely convincing.”
So, did Bae help keep my hangover at bay? Barely. I awoke the next morning feeling as dusty as any other hangover. Perhaps it did help me metabolise the alcohol faster, but maybe I just drank more as a result. Though it seems I may be in the minority, as after giving a few friends some packs to try, they all reported back with mildly positive results.
Verdict: Bae Juice didn’t cure my hangover, but it seems to work for some, and it tastes great (especially mixed with vodka) so give it a try.
Fergus Henderson’s hangover cocktail
A few years ago, I heard about a post-hangover cocktail apparently guaranteed to squash any hangover in its tracks. Developed by Michelin-starred chef Fergus Henderson, the aptly named “Dr Henderson” drink consists of just two ingredients – two parts Fernet Branca and one part Crème de Menthe. Then, simply add ice, mix, and drink.
For years I’d been meaning to try it, but never got around to it. So I headed out, got smashed in the name of science, and woke up the next morning wanting to die. Perfect. Just looking at the bottles made me nauseous, but I hardened up, made the drink, brought it to my lips and… almost spewed. The smell.
I’ve never been a fan of hair of the dog, and Benson agrees: “It might help to temporarily make you feel better, but ultimately what it’s really doing is just delaying the problem,” she says. “The actual, physiological causes of the hangover can’t be reduced by drinking a hair of the dog.”
Hair of the dog is also risky behaviour linked to alcoholism, Benson warns.
Verdict: I wanted to throw up after barely a sip. Sorry Fergus, you may be a world-renowned chef, but your hangover cure is a dud.
Hangover prevention pills
There’s a pill for everything on the internet and, lo and behold, after typing in “hangover cure pills” I was greeted with thousands of results. “There are so many companies that are really trying to develop a hangover treatment, because, really, it’s a goldmine if someone is able to successfully do it,” Benson says.
After browsing a few websites, I settled on a bottle of “AfterDrink” – the highest rated hangover cure pills available online, according to hangovercure.org. Judging by the extensive ingredients list, the pills look to comprise a mix of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Surely one of these ingredients must do something.
“There’s mixed evidence,” says Benson, explaining that while some ingredients might show a very slight improvement in hangover severity, other research suggests they don’t work.
But I’ll tell you one thing: after this whole experiment, I don’t want to drink for a very long time … And maybe that was the cure I was searching for all along.
Nonetheless, I followed the instructions and popped three pills before drinking, and three before bed. I awoke the next morning with the grandfather of all hangovers. Despite the scores of positive reviews, the pills did nothing but break my spirit.
Verdict: Save your money and spend it on Maccas and Powerade instead, you’ll be better off.
It was time to turn to the needle. Some influencers and celebrities seem to swear by IV drips, but something about sticking a needle in your arm to cure a hangover just feels excessive. Surely one must, at some point, begin to question their life choices when turning to such a solution. I asked Benson what she thinks: “I’m sceptical, because there’s not enough evidence to warrant such an invasive treatment. It’s also really expensive.”
Benson says a recovery IV (typically containing electrolytes, vitamins and sometimes painkillers or anti-nausea) is probably going to help with hydration – dehydration is a key contributor to hangovers – but she adds that she doesn’t expect other important factors (oxidative stress and elevated inflammatory cytokines) to be mitigated. “Staying hydrated might alleviate some hangover symptoms, but won’t cure a hangover,” she says.
Only one way to find out. Enter Australian company DripIV. They offer a range of IV treatments from immunity boosters to weight loss and sports recovery, but I’m interested in their $249 “Recover” treatment for hangovers. The best part is they come to you – a godsend on grimy mornings.
As I felt the cool sensation of the IV liquid floating up my left arm, administered by a nurse, I felt my scepticism gently wash away. About 10 minutes in, my eyes began to feel wider – my face was relaxing and thus alleviating that subconscious hangover squint. In fact, I felt my whole body calming from a tension I hadn’t even noticed I was carrying.
By the end of the half hour treatment, I was feeling pretty decent actually. My hangover wasn’t cured – my head still felt foggy – but I was feeling somewhat bouncy. I noticed, while waiting for a coffee, that my hands were subconsciously tapping on the counter, I was bobbing to music that existed only in my head. Normally, when I’m hungover, all I want to do is curl up in a ball and never move again, and yet here I was feeling like I could go for a jog. I didn’t, obviously, I’m not a psychopath, but I could have.
Verdict: Heck, if you can afford it, go for it. Just keep in mind this is, of course, a medical procedure.
And so, here we are, four hangovers later, and only one sort-of winner.
Generally, Benson says, the most effective way to treat a hangover is by treating the symptoms. For example, ibuprofen for headaches.
But I’ll tell you one thing: after this whole experiment, I don’t want to drink for a very long time. In fact, Benson put it best: “The only way to avoid a hangover, is to drink less.” And maybe that was the cure I was searching for all along.
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