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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 00:26 GMT
'No evidence' hangover cures work
Man with a glass
Drink too much of this - and you're guaranteed to feel bad
With the festive season in full flow, researchers reveal what many may have suspected - hangover cures do not work.

A team from the Peninsula Medical School found "no compelling evidence" that a range of herbal and conventional treatments were effective.

Hangovers account for about 2bn in lost wages in Britain each year, mainly due to sickness absence.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers say only abstinence or moderation can really stop hangovers.

The only thing you can do with a hangover is let your body heal itself and learn the lesson that nature's telling you
Professor Edzard Ernst, Penninsula Medical School

The team looked at existing research into potential cures, or preventative measures.

But they could only find eight robust studies to examine.

'Enjoyable research'

The trials looked at eight different agents: propranolol (a beta-blocking drug), tropisetron (drug for nausea and vertigo), tolfenamic acid (a painkiller from the same family as aspirin and ibuprofen), fructose or glucose, and the dietary supplements borage, artichoke, prickly pear, and a yeast based product.

'Hair of the dog'
Charcoal tablets

Writing in the BMJ, they said: "The paucity of trials is in stark contrast to the plethora of 'hangover cures' marketed on the internet.

"Our findings show no compelling evidence to suggest that any intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover."

But they said "encouraging findings" existed for borage, the yeast product and tolfenamic acid.

The researchers, led by Max Pittler, said: "Our findings show no compelling evidence to suggest that any complementary or conventional intervention is effective for treating or preventing the alcohol hangover."

They add: "The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol-induced hangover is thus to practise abstinence or moderation."

Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula Medical School, said: "We carried out our own - quite enjoyable - study to see if artichoke extract was an effective hangover cure.

"It may have been fun to do, but the results were terrifically disappointing. We looked at other research into over-the-counter and herbal remedies which are on offer.

"But they didn't work. And the only thing you can do with a hangover is let your body heal itself and learn the lesson that nature's telling you; don't do it again or do it in moderation."

Women are advised to drink no more than three units a day, while the limit for men is four.

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