Can This Miracle Product Cure America's Hangovers?

by Pamela J. Hobart

Summer is almost over, and cold weather is approaching, which means more time indoors, more time at bars, and more hangovers. Thankfully, hangover cure Berocca (much loved in other countries) is finally coming to the U.S. But does it work? The good news is that using Berocca can't hurt — but it probably won't make your hangovers disappear, either.

This product is offered by Bayer in the form of fizzy tablets to be dropped into water, like Alka-Seltzer. According to its website, Berocca contains a variety of allegedly hangover-busting ingredients: B vitamins, guarana, caffeine, vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium. However, as a mere dietary supplement — instead of a full-fledged drug — Berocca has not been vetted by the Food and Drug Administration for safety and accuracy of its claims.

Although Berocca has been selling well in other countries for over 50 years, that's no guarantee that it's anything more than a harmless tradition. Caffeine makes just about everyone feel better in the morning, hangover or not, but perhaps it's easier on the post-drinking stomach than regular coffee. Similarly, guarana is also a stimulant, so it should perk you up too. While they're important for general health and topping up may speed your recovery (or at least do no harm), B vitamins aren't an effective short-term hangover remedy. Almost nobody is deficient in vitamin C these days, but it's water-soluble so your body does require a constant supply, and Berocca can help here because that morning orange juice isn't going to sit well in your hangover-ravaged stomach. Zinc and magnesium are also required nutrients, but the human body stores these, so you're unlikely to notice much of an effect from dosing yourself the morning after.

Hangover science is still developing, but by most accounts, the hangover is primarily caused by dehydration in combination with low blood sugar. Berocca can help you in so far as it's a palatable way to get (and keep) water down, but my research shows that it contains little to no sugar, so you'll still have to eat something too. While you're at it, you might want to try some fish oil supplements, too: Like some of the ingredients in Berocca, it's good for your general health, and fish oil might help to alleviate hangovers by reducing related brain inflammation, too.

Still, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Don't drink too much in the first place, and you won't need Berocca or anything else. If you do find yourself hungover, just please promise me you won't indulge in the world's other favorite hangover "remedy," the "hair of the dog." Drinking more might postpone your hangover pain, but it won't cure you of anything at all.

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