London - Worn-out partygoers have long turned to coffee or even a Bloody Mary on the morning after the night before.
Now, however, scientists suggest that Sprite or soda water may be best thing to lay your hands on.
Chinese scientists examined 57 beverages - ranging from herbal teas to fizzy pop - before concluding that the lemon-and-lime drink performed the best.
They first decided to look at what causes a hangover and found that rather than the alcohol itself, it could be the process of the body breaking down the alcohol that causes symptoms such as nausea and headache.
When we drink, our livers release an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which breaks down the ethanol in alcohol into a chemical called acetaldehyde (so less of the alcohol enters the bloodstream).
This is then broken down into another chemical called acetate by an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).
While acetate is usually considered harmless - and has been linked with some of the health benefits of alcohol - being exposed to the more potent acetaldehyde is what causes hangover symptoms, the researchers found.
With this theory in mind, the researchers at Sun Yat-Sen University, in Guangzhou, tested a range of drinks, from teas, hot herbal drinks and various fizzy drinks - and examined how they affected ADH and ALDH.
They discovered that a herbal drink made with hemp seeds actually increased the length of the ADH process and inhibited the ALDH process, so a hangover would last for longer.
In contrast, Chemistry World reports, some of the drinks markedly increased ALDH activity, thus promoting the rapid break-down of acetaldehyde. This means they could minimise the harmful effects of drinking alcohol. Among these drinks were “Xue bi” and “Hui yi su da shui”, carbonated drinks known in English as Sprite and soda water, respectively.
The tests were done in vitro (looking at the chemical reactions) and not in vivo (no hungover people were tested), notes Chemistry World.
“These results are a reminder that herbal and other supplements can have pharmacological activities that both harm and benefit our health,” Edzard Ernst, Emeritus Professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, told Chemistry World.
Young people - and regular drinkers - produce more of the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, so they don't feel the effects of alcohol as much as older people, said consultant hepatologist Dr Rajiv Jalan of University College Hospital London.
The only good news is that, with age, hangover headaches become less of a problem.
The headaches are the result of alcohol damaging the brain, causing it to swell temporarily and crash against the skull.
But as we age our brains shrink, so there is more room for it to swell before it hits the bone. - Daily Mail