Since many symptoms of a traditional hangover are largely in line with symptoms of dehydration, it comes as no surprise that various companies/products in the fitness and hydration space have adapted their approaches to focus on some of their offerings as potential hangover “cures.” While electrolyte powders and supplements made specifically for treating hangovers, such as Flyby and Liquid IV, do exist in a limited capacity, it’s ultimately home, fitness, and hydration-based OTC remedies like Gatorade and Pedialyte that remain dominant in this space. Some vitamin/herbal-based tonics and supplements (in the form of patches, tablets, etc.) have recently grown in popularity, but they continue to be outpaced by the sheer prevalence of widely-available drinks that directly supplement the consumer’s intake of the five key electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorous.
Powders, Pills, and Preventatives
- Flyby offers a variety of products in this space; Echinacia and beef liver extracts, collagen peptides powder, electrolyte powder, and recovery drinks are only a few of their broader options. However, their bottles of recovery capsule supplements are their flagship product, and they are one of several that are focused squarely on hangover relief. The difference here is that it is just as much a preventative, pre-drinking measure as it is a post-drinking recovery method. As their website states, users must take 3 capsules with food and water before drinking for the evening, in addition to 3 more capsules before going to bed. This likely stems from the average expert’s/nutritionist’s advice, which is that pre-alcohol hydration can arguably be even more important in the treatment/prevention of hangovers than any methods taken after alcohol consumption.
- Liquid IV focuses strictly on powder-based supplements which, while not marketed specifically for hangover treatment, have gained a prominent foothold in the market through their focuses on sustainability and philanthropy. In particular, their Hydration Multiplier has been established as a prominent choice for hangover recovery. They claim this product has 3x the electrolytes of standard sports drinks, and that their Cellular Transport Technology allows for faster, more efficient hydration when compared to other products in this space.
- MedlinePlus‘ top recommendation for hangover recovery is consuming an “electrolyte solution” such as a sports drink or bouillon soup.
- Gatorade is rarely marketed as a hangover cure, but it remains one of the most popular choices due to its reputation as the most prevalent, electrolyte-focused sports drink on the market. Just like other supplements, this is all based around the principle that hangovers and dehydration usually go hand-in-hand. Since electrolytes help increase hydration, electrolyte-based drinks generally help alleviate symptoms of dehydration; many consumers are likely to know about this connection between electrolytes and hydration before they even start drinking alcohol, which may be a reason for the enduring popularity of drinks like Gatorade as hangover remedies (the comfort of familiarity).
- Pedialyte is a broad-stroke OTC treatment for dehydration in children, however, it’s unique in the sense that it’s also marketed itself directly as a remedy for hangovers in adults. It’s similar to sports drinks like Gatorade, in that their active ingredients and sugar/sweetener are usually the same, if not portioned a bit differently. It’s also a post-alcohol remedy as opposed to a pre-drink preventative measure, and it focuses specifically on the electrolytes sodium and potassium.
- The future of this market segment is largely uncertain. Experts and researchers have pointed out that the main issue with electrolyte-based hangover remedies is that not all hangovers are caused primarily by dehydration. Moreover, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has found no correlation between the severity of an individual’s hangover and the severity of their electrolyte imbalances; in fact, the NIAAA goes so far as to specify that there is no reason to believe that any added electrolytes would have any kind of impact on an individual’s hangover severity. However, these facts have as yet done little to curb the popularity of the easier home remedies such as Gatorade, soup, and other electrolyte-heavy foods/beverages. It’s likely that much broader, more detailed scientific studies into popular and potential hangover treatments (specifically, electrolyte vs. non-electrolyte) will need to be completed before the market will see any significant changes.