Hangovers are no fun. Headaches, nausea, raging thirst, and wobbly limbs are often the rewards of a heavy night of drinking. Taking an aspirin before bed, drinking lots of water, and having eggs or even a Bloody Mary for breakfast are among the many folk remedies recommended for a hangover. Now a team of volunteers from the editorial staff of the New Scientist reports their own results in an impromptu research project aimed at finding the ultimate hangover cure. Having a Bloody Mary for breakfast eased the symptoms, but only temporarily; drinking copious quantities of water led to many trips to the bathroom, but no noticeable reduction in symptoms. Replacing the water with a sports drink didn't do the job either. One remedy, however, received rave reviews from the volunteers. The remedy, N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), is an amino acid sold in health food stores. NAC is the precursor for glutathione, the body's natural destroyer of free radicals. After a drinking bout the liver gets severely taxed in its detoxification efforts and uses up much more glutathione than usual. Taking NAC helps restore the glutathione supply and facilitates the detoxification process thus easing the hangover.
New Scientist, November 27, 1999, pp. 34-36