All Hangover Remedies the Same?
All hangover remedies are not created equally. The concept of what causes the dreaded HANGOVER is controversial enough. I'll offer up my brief but informed opinion on that in a moment. The bigger problem is that when you bring money, marketing, fake reviews and hearsay into the mix, it can be downright confusing to find the right product. I'll keep it simple, but I will give you some analysis on common ingredients to help you avoid getting ripped off, and get a positive result, even if you don't choose our product.
Elephant in the room -- I own Intox-Detox, so I am a bit biased. However, I am the ONLY one in the market who will actually recommend my competitors, when they have a decent product. For example, I still think Life Support has a great liquid shooter product. The recent flood of sharks into the market has produced more than a few charlatans and pretenders who clearly care more about making money than the latest emerging science. They give us all a bad name; they are the reason that people believe that hangover remedy products don't work.
I'll be as objective as I can and at least help you read the labels (if they don't hide them from you), so that you can make an informed decision. I might even name a few names in the process because I'm feeling squirrelly today!
What Causes Hangovers?
To say that one factor is the CAUSE of a hangover is a gross oversimplification of the body's physiological response from consuming alcohol. However, there is one factor largely responsible for the worst effects, including the nausea, vomiting, headache and lethargy. Science has confirmed that this factor is a chemical byproduct of alcohol called ACETALDEHYDE. Until you break all of it down, you will continue to feel terrible. Ideally, hangover remedy products should target the liver's process for eliminating this deadly toxin.
Dehydration, blood sugar, inflammation and other effects are also factors. As you will see, most are manageable with simple, inexpensive and readily available solutions, some of which you probably already have in your house.
Hangover Remedy Ingredients
The ingredients matter. A lot. Anyone who says they have the ultimate solution is lying. More research needs to be done. However, the science has come a long way in the last few years and when you apply it properly great results are possible. Let's look at a few of the usual suspect ingredients:
NAC & Gluathione Precursors
NAC or N-acetyl-cysteine is an amino acid that acts as a precursor to L-Glutathione, which is an important detoxifying antioxidant in the body, especially for the liver. NAC is what they give you via IV to save your life if you are having liver failure from acetaminophen overdose. It helps increase blood levels of Glutathione (GSH) by supplying one of the 3 amino acids needed for your body to make it. You will see other companies supplying Cysteine, Glutamic Acid and Glycine. Other products use Reduced Glutathione, but few use adequate amounts of the best available material. Intox-Detox uses a clinically-effective amount of the patented Setria L-Glutathione, which has human research backing its efficacy. No one else in the market spends the money to use the right ingredient in the right amount. Companies like Never Too Hungover's liquid shooter use NAC, which smells and tastes like rotten eggs. Hence the reason they have to add so much sucralose to the product. How did this vastly inferior product make it into Vitamin Shoppe and GNC over Intox-Detox? The answer is money.
Recommendation: Take 600-1200 mg additional NAC prior to drinking or before bed to help protect and increase GSH levels. It's so inexpensive to buy and easier to take as capsules. Why pay a markup to someone to sell this to you?
Everyone asks us about this. To be clear, we love milk thistle. We are developing a daily liver detox product that will contain this awesome herb. However, when it comes to helping you feel better the morning after a few drinks, milk thistle falls a bit short. You have to take it consistently for weeks to get an optimal effect. There's some good research behind it, but there are better options for addressing the acute effects from drinking alcohol.
Recommendation: Take 60-300 mg of milk thistle daily with a meal for maintaining liver health.
The family of B vitamins are important for thousands of functions in your body. There is no doubt that they are helpful for detox purposes. Drinking alcohol depletes them, so replacing them is a no-brainer. So why do we not include them in Intox-Detox? Our clinically-dosed formula is already 4 capsules. We just don't have the room for it. And also, B vitamins are super cheap. You can literally get them anywhere - energy drinks, B complex supplements and don't forget FOOD. It would cost us only a few cents per serving to add these, but we don't have room in our capsules. We may add them to our liquid shooter formula, which would only improve the effect marginally. I won't sell you B vitamins because they are cheap and readily available.
Recommendation: Take a B complex or eat bananas, avocados and other foods high in B vitamins prior to, during and after drinking alcohol.
If Pedialyte and Gatorade were the cure-all for hangovers, there would be no need for our entire market. Electrolytes are essential to life, whether you drink or not. Alcohol is a diuretic and dehydrates you; that's not news. Dehydration is PART of a hangover, but it's not the whole thing. While mild dehydration can cause headaches and nausea, it's not the reason for the sick feeling you have the morning after a night out drinking. These minerals are also cheap and readily available, so I would never sell them to my customers.
Recommendation: Drink water before, during and after alcohol consumption. Try a product like Ultima, which is all-natural, convenient, sugar-free and way better than those other sports drinks. Remember that plain old FOOD is one of your best source of vitamins and minerals. FYI: Avocados pack a nice combination of both B vitamins and potassium.
Many other herbs are commonly used, such as turmeric, ginger, prickly pear, boswellia, white willow bark etc. Usually, they are included for their natural content of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and balancing adaptogens. I love taking these natural wonders, some of which can be as effective as OTC drugs for reducing inflammation and pain. However, it comes down to the difference between what is useful and what is essential. These are icing on the cake, but not the foundation of a good formula. For example, Intox-Detox uses the support ingredients Green Tea and Panax Ginseng because of the impressive effects on neutralizing free radicals, rebalancing the body and specifically targeting that nasty Acetaldehyde chemical.
Recommendation: Take additional herbs as you see fit for general daily detox. Consider a formula like Vida Lifescience's ExoFlex as natural anti-inflammatories to replace OTC pain meds like Aleve, Advil and/or Tylenol (or their equivalents).
Personally, I'm not shy about taking some OTC painkillers when I NEED them. I rarely use them, but they are effective and safe for most people. Make sure to avoid acetaminophen (Tylenol and other brands) when you are drinking as it puts additional stress on your liver. I include caffeine in this category. Always remember that, despite its widespread usage, caffeine is still a drug. Whether it's coffee, 5-Hour Energy or Monster, there's no doubt that a good dose of caffeine can clear the cobwebs and help restore energy and focus. Blowfish does both by combining caffeine and aspirin into an effervescent formula. Again, I'm not in the business of selling you things you already have or can easily obtain at low cost somewhere else. Blowfish also gets the added benefit of making different hangover claims since they are classified as an OTC drug.
Just don't overdo the buzz. And, don't expect me to sell something to you that you can get at a Starbucks or gas station on nearly every street corner in America. When we do create our all-natural Intox-Detox energy drink, we will use a combination of natural sources of caffeine, including Yaupon, Guyvasa, Yerba Mate and/or tea. That's just the way we like to do things.
*Monster Rehab does contain 2 of our 4 ingredients, but they don't take me seriously about partnering up. That's okay because they probably don't have the stones to buy quality ingredients, dose them in the right amounts and use only all-natural sweeteners.
By far, the most impressive ingredient in our market is Hovenia dulcis, also known as Japanese or Oriental Raisin Tree Extract. Not to be confused with DHM, which to our knowledge has not been approved as an NDI (New Dietary Ingredient) by the FDA. The whole herb and its extracts are ODI (Old Dietary Ingredient) and supply DHM, but are not isolating the material to a level that is non-compliant with FDA rules and regulations. There's a big difference there. Like most herbs, the phytonutrients and other components of the plant most likely supply added benefits.
So why is this one ingredient so great? Remember that Acetaldehyde is the primary cause of the worst side effects associated with a "HANGOVER". Research shows that Japanese Raisin extract helps support the liver's 2-stage detoxification process for alcohol. It's considered FDA "GRAS" (Generally Recognized as Safe) and has ample human safety data. More research is required, but it's thought that the natural compounds in the plant improve the quantity and/or function of the ADH and ALDH2 liver enzymes that makes alcohol metabolism possible.
Put simply, speeding up liver function gets the "Hangover toxin" Acetaldehyde out of your body faster, allowing you to recover more quickly and feel better the next day. Aside from the impressive research, if you need any more proof that it works, see the exploding hangover remedy market. When we started Intox-Detox five years ago, only 3 or 4 companies were on to this; now there are over 20 and counting.
As with any ingredient, the quality and quantity matter significantly. Many of our competitors are using 1/3, 1/4 or as little as 1/9 of the clinically researched amount. Why? To make more money obviously.
Intox-Detox is the only company using the right ingredients (from the research) in the right amounts (clinically-dosed) and at the right time (taken before). Due to the liver-protective implications of Japanese Raisin, any credible company should be recommending that you take it BEFORE drinking.
Taking the ingredient after the fact will help you feel better more quickly, but it does not have the same protective effect for the liver and other vital organs that can be damaged by the toxic Acetaldehyde.
Based on the research currently available, the best hangover remedy products on the market SHOULD contain the right extract of Japanese Raisin, dosed in the right amount and taken prior to consuming alcohol. Herbs like Milk Thistle, Electrolytes, B Vitamins and Glutathione precursors are bonus, but none alone are as effective as our main ingredient Japanese Raisin. OTC pain meds can be used carefully after the fact, but may have their own side effects and increase liver stress. Caffeine is awesome, but only masks the effects. Never forget that FOOD is one of the best medicines on the planet. Combining the right diet, preemptive measures and a good liver detox product can deliver impressive results.
Lastly, we don't know everything. We came up with a great formula, based on the #1 ingredient to look for in a hangover remedy. However, the ongoing research will inform the products of the future. We hope to continue evolving and creating ever-better products to help you balance having fun and staying healthy.
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