So you’re heading to a night of partying and you know you’ll be drinking a lot. Like, a lot. You’ve probably been in this situation before and you’re dreading what comes when you wake up. Maybe you have commitments tomorrow or you just want to avoid the brick wall you’re going to hit in the morning. Or maybe you have a hangover right now. What can you do?
Perhaps you’ve heard of intravenous (IV) therapy (also referred to as IV nutrient therapy, IV drip or Myers Cocktail), which has become a popular treatment for hangovers. IV clinics offering treatment for hangovers (and jet lag, colds, flus, and food poisoning) have grown in popularity, especially in places like Las Vegas.
But can IV therapies cure a hangover? First, we need to look at what causes them.
Why do we get Hangovers?
To be clear, there is some controversy over what causes hangover symptoms. Three different factors contribute to the conditions that we call a hangover: the inflammation caused by metabolizing large amounts of alcohol, dehydration, and your ability to recover from these stressful conditions.
Firstly when your body breaks down the alcohol you’ve consumed, inflammatory cytokines and toxic acetaldehyde are released into your body. These chemicals can disrupt your central nervous system, leading to familiar symptoms like headache, dizziness, nausea, and in extreme cases, memory impairment.
Dehydration occurs because alcohol is a diuretic that causes you to urinate (and perhaps vomit), losing bodily fluids. But you also lose electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron, as well as water-soluble vitamins like vitamin B’s and C. This can lead to (and worsen) headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and other conditions that may arise from losing the aforementioned nutrients.
Finally, how well you recover after a drinking binge also affects your morning (or afternoon) after. Poor sleep quality can worsen hangover severity because disturbed sleep will stifle your recovery.
“Great,” you might be thinking. “Hook me up with a cure. Literally.”
What is IV therapy?
IV therapy involves a medical technician connecting you to an intravenous bag, introducing a high dosage of vitamins and nutrients directly into your bloodstream. The idea is that this cocktail of nutrients encourages optimal health. Or in the case of hangovers, it helps alleviate headaches, nausea, dizziness, and other nasty symptoms.
IV hangover cocktails usually contain the following:
- Saline – Basically a water and sodium chloride solution that quickly introduces fluid back into your body.
- Vitamin B Complex, including B3 and B12 – A powerful mix that helps reduce fatigue, nausea, and makes you feel energized.
- Vitamin C – Important for immune function, supplementation can improve recovery time and may help reduce liver inflammation.
- Electrolytes like magnesium – Electrolytes are essential for bodily functions like metabolic function as well as muscle and nerve activity. Magnesium is known to prevent muscle cramps and alleviate headaches and migraines.
IV therapies basically attempt to re-introduce the fluid and nutrients you lost from drinking alcohol. Some IVs also include medicine that directly treats headaches, nausea and other symptoms.
But are IV Therapies Worth it for Hangovers?
Let’s get one thing out of the way: If you were to put a price tag on hangover relief, would it be more than $100? Good because that’s where they usually start. The average is around $200 and it’ll cost more if you can’t travel to a clinic and need concierge services, which many IV clinics offer.
Now considering the actual treatment, surely restoring lost hydration and nutrients, reducing inflammation and facilitating recovery would cure a hangover, right? Unfortunately, there are no studies that analyze the effectiveness of IV therapy in preventing or treating hangovers. Studies about hangovers in general are difficult to conduct and the few that exist aren’t good enough to make strong conclusions.
That being said, IVs can quickly restore bodily fluid and electrolyte saturation, helping alleviate symptoms caused by dehydration. We know that extreme conditions like loss of fluids from extreme exertion, diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding traditionally warrant an IV. So it’s not a stretch that the rehydrating effect of an IV would help.
Furthermore the nutrients and supplements added to IV cocktail are known to help restore energy levels, reduce nausea, settle stomachs and relieve pain. So at least theoretically, IV therapy could help ease hangover symptoms. If they help with recovery, even better.
The popularity of the treatment speaks to how some people value the service. While we can’t say that hangovers can be cured with IV treatment, perhaps we can say that it makes some people feel better, even if anecdotally. And when the morning after hits that’s ultimately what we want, right?
So if IV Therapy Isn’t a Hangover Cure, what can I do?
Science indicates that rehydrating with fluids and electrolytes, getting a good, long sleep, and eating nutritious meals to restore blood sugar levels, vitamins and minerals are the best ways to tackle a hangover.
Supplementation can help too. The amino acid L-cysteine may help alleviate hangover symptoms. Some NSAIDs like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen have been shown to reduce symptoms but they may cause digestive irritation and liver damage so some caution is advised.
Before you Take the Plunge
While doing my research for this article, it became apparent that prevention is your best option. (If you already have a hangover, go ahead and bookmark this for later…)
A few pointers:
- The type of alcohol you drink can affect the likelihood and severity of a hangover. Alcohol containing high amounts of chemicals called congeners are more likely to cause severe hangovers. Generally speaking, “clear” drinks like vodka and white wine are less likely to take you out.
- Drinking water is essential. Alternate between water and alcohol if you can.
- Eating meals (with healthy fats) prior to alcohol consumption can help prevent hangovers by slowing alcohol absorption. Snacking while drinking has a similar effect.
- Regular supplementation of vitamin B3 (niacin) and zinc may lessen hangover severity.
- Maintaining your electrolytes while consuming alcohol is also important.
- Do what you can to get quality sleep after a drinking binge to help you recover.
- When planning for the day after, prioritize recovery. Again, sleep well, eat healthy meals, restore your fluids, and supplement wisely.
Want the benefit of IV therapies at the comfort of your home or office? Concierge services range from $100 to $400 for a one-off session. Try Myers Cocktail Oral Therapy, which boasts all the benefits of IV therapy at a fraction of the cost and without the needle.
While we can’t say our Oral Therapy prevents or cures hangovers, our products happen to contain the nutrients that IV therapy are designed around. That includes C and B vitamins, electrolytes, amino acids, and antioxidants, some of which are mentioned above in regards to alleviating hangover symptoms.
Adding our Oral Therapy to your day is a safe, affordable and delicious way of increasing your energy levels and optimizing your nutrient levels to make recovery from conditions like hangovers, stress, and fatigue a little easier.