Hangover cures like red ginseng show no convincing signs of working, study says

So-called hangover cures including red ginseng, Korean pear juice and Rapid Recovery show no convincing signs of working, according to a new study.

With the festive season in full flow, many may be unsurprised to learn that several popular remedies for the symptoms caused by drinking too much alcohol may be ineffective.

Researchers from King’s College London and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust assessed 21 placebo-controlled trials of 23 treatments thought to alleviate hangovers.

Each trial examined the effects of a different type of so-called remedy on groups of drinkers who took part in “alcohol challenges” across the world.

In the trials, 386 participants aged between 18 and 65 from across the world were given alcohol followed by an “intervention substance”.

The trials were limited in their reporting of the nature and timing of drinking, and there were also differences in alcohol type across the trials, and whether alcohol was given alongside food. Of the total 21 trials, eight were conducted exclusively with male participants.

Whisky, vodka, wine and beer were among the drinks consumed by participants from countries including the UK, US, Australia, India and Finland.

Only seven of the 23 substances tested showed any signs of improving symptoms, but even this was deemed “low-quality” and unconvincing scientific evidence by the researchers.

These included Korean pear juice, red ginseng, Pyritinol, a vitamin supplement, HDE, L-cysteine/B and C vitamins, Tolfenamic acid and clove extract.

Clove extract, Tolfenamic acid and Pyritinol were the “top three” that showed the strongest evidence of working to combat a hangover, according to the scientists.

Twelve of the substances, including Rapid Recovery, prickly pear, Naproxen, Propanolol and artichoke were found to have had no effect on symptoms in comparison with the placebo.

The outcome of the tests on the remaining four substances, including Morning Fit and curcumin, were not reported.

The lead author, Dr Emmert Roberts, said: “Hangover symptoms can cause significant distress and affect people’s employment and academic performance.

“Given the continuing speculation in the media as to which hangover remedies work or not, the question around the effectiveness of substances that claim to treat or prevent a hangover appears to be one with considerable public interest.

“Our study has found that evidence on these hangover remedies is of very low quality and there is a need to provide more rigorous assessment. For now, the surest way of preventing hangover symptoms is to abstain from alcohol or drink in moderation.”