Health and wellness

What’s the best cure for a hangover? Water, not pills, Hong Kong pharmacists say

Experts remind public to watch out for their health and safety while drinking amid festivities

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 December, 2017, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 December, 2017, 5:07pm

With the festive season just round the corner and bouts of heavy drinking expected from revellers, Hong Kong’s pharmacists warn that pills touted to cure hangovers may not be as effective as advertised, with water being the best remedy.

The Practising Pharmacists Association of Hong Kong said manufacturers of such products claim they could break down alcohol and reduce hangover symptoms, but the results were exaggerated, and there was no clinical evidence to support their use.

“Such medicine can be classified into three types – vitamins, herbs or intestines and stomach protectors. But the tablets do not break down alcohol,” association chairwoman Iris Chang Yee-man said.

“None of the hangover pills are scientifically proven to metabolise alcohol.”

She also warned drinkers not to drive after consuming the pills. “Some people think they can drive because they will not get drunk after taking the pills – that is wrong and disastrous.”

William Chui Chun-ming, president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists, said the best way to fight a hangover was to drink more water as soon as possible so that the alcohol can be passed out from the body through urine.

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“Alcohol also leads to dehydration. Drinking water is the solution. There is no better alternative,” Chui said.

Chui also warned drinkers not to mix other medicine, such as sleeping pills and flu drugs, with alcohol as it might result in harmful prolonged effects.

“Enzymes in your liver are busy breaking down alcohol when you drink, meaning the substances in other pills you have consumed will stay longer in your body.

“Sleeping pills normally stay effective for eight hours, but if mixed with drinks, can have their effect extended to 12 hours. Drinkers will feel more drowsy.”

Referring to people attempting to self-medicate because they feel unwell during a hangover, Chang also reminded the public to exercise caution when taking painkillers and fever medication – or paracetamol – as popping more than 4 grams a day, around six to eight tablets, could be dangerous.