Prickly pear, cherry and ginger supplement could be the 'ultimate hangover cure'

Alexandra Thompson
·3-min read
Fresh ripe whole and half Prickly Pears
Prickly pear was one of five extracts in the 'hangover supplement'. (Getty Images)

A plant-based concoction could be the ultimate hangover cure, research suggests.

Whether it’s hair of the dog or a full English, everyone has their own way of nursing a sore head after a heavy night.

While many have advocated for natural remedies, evidence supporting them has been limited.

To learn more, scientists in Germany assessed the potential of plant extracts like cherry, prickly pear and ginger root, as well as minerals including magnesium, potassium and zinc.

They found a supplement made of an array of extracts and antioxidants reduced nausea, headache and restlessness by up to 42% after a night of drinking.

The team also found the old adage of “water prevents a hangover” may not be true.

Read more: Does some alcohol cause worse hangovers than others?

The scientists, from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, split 214 healthy adults between 18 and 65 into three groups.

Each group was given a supplement 45 minutes before and immediately after they stopped drinking beer, white wine or a white wine spritzer.

The first group was given a supplement containing Barbados cherry, prickly pear and ginger root plant extracts, as well as ginkgo biloba and willow.

The vitamins and minerals in the supplement were magnesium, potassium, sodium bicarbonate, zinc, riboflavin, thiamin and folic acid.

Steviol glycosides and inulin, antioxidant compounds, were also ingredients.

Read more: Vegans may have worse hangovers

Group two took the same supplement, minus the plant extracts.

The third group was given a placebo.

The number of drinks the participants consumed was measured by how many times they emptied their bladder between 5pm and 9pm.

Blood and urine samples were also taken before and after the experiment.

Once sobered up, the participants ranked the intensity of any hangover from zero to 10.

Front view of a teen with tousled hair suffering head ache sitting on a couch in the living room at home
Some turn to ice-cold water after a heavy night. (Getty Images)

Results – published in the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health – revealed the amount of alcohol consumed was similar across all three groups, however, hangover symptoms varied widely.

Compared with the placebo, those who took the plant-based supplement saw their nausea decline by 42%.

The intensity of their restlessness, headache and “feelings of indifference” also went down by 41%, 34% and 27%, respectively.

Previous studies have suggested the micronutrient and antioxidant content of the plant extracts “curb the psychological impact of alcohol”.

“The underlying mechanisms remain to be unravelled and surely need further investigation,” wrote the German scientists.

Read more: Pear, lime and coconut water smoothie could cure a hangover

The supplement without the plant extracts did not produce a statistically significant benefit.

The results also showed the “level of water content” in the participants’ body was not influenced by the amount of alcohol drunk.

“Our results suggest that alcohol-induced increased fluid excretion does not necessarily lead to a significant dehydration process,” wrote the scientists.

This contradicts NHS advice that recommends drinking a glass of water between tipples, as well as before bed.

The health service also advises keeping water beside your bed after a heavy night and “replacing lost fluids” if you feel the after effects the following day.