Unlike most supplements, these lab-made remedies—which claim that a capsule or liquid shot, taken just before you go to bed, will stop you from feeling like crap—just may help. However, some of the stuff is more legit than others.
Let’s start by dissecting the dreaded hangover itself. First, alcohol makes you dehydrated. Next, your liver can’t keep up with the toxins you pounded. And lastly, booze messes with the chemicals in your brain that regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
Some products, like Thrive+ and Morning Recovery, claim to address all three. They contain electrolytes, which, along with water, may help to rehydrate and ease the headache. As for detoxification, milk thistle is a supposed remedy for liver disease. There’s not much evidence, but supplements containing vitamins B1 and B6 may help, says Myles Spar, M.D., an integrative physician and NBA adviser.
Where science springs ahead is around brain recovery. The sleep-wake cycle is controlled, in part, by two neurotransmitters. One is a stimulant, and the other a calmant. Alcohol creates an imbalance, making you tired when you drink and pepping you up when you stop—which happens to be when you crawl into bed, making for a restless night. Look for taurine, an amino acid that may boost the neurotransmitter GABA (the calming chemical) to give you better sleep.
But before you order that double IPA, know the science here is mostly hypothetical. There haven’t been enough clinical trials, says Darren Kruisselbrink, a professor of Kinesiology at Acadia University in Canada. And if you wake up feeling great, you can’t be sure it was the supplements. Maybe pizza and Gatorade would’ve been equally effective.
Plus, hangovers are medically complex, he says, with too many variables to create a universal cure. And consider this: An individual could drink the same amount on different nights and feel wildly different the next day.
“Diminishing hangover symptoms with supplements is probably the best humanity can hope for, but reducing a syndrome that is subjective for each person will be tricky,” he says.
For now, maybe it’s best to cover your bases: supplement, water, and a plate of disco fries.