Forget hair of the dog, honey on toast or raw eggs – if you really want help overcoming a hangover – drink a cup of coffee with an aspirin.
Scientists have confirmed what millions have suspected for years if you want to soothe a tired head – simply take some caffeine and a painkiller.
They found the caffeine in coffee and the anti-inflammatory ingredients of aspirin and other painkillers reacted against the chemical compounds of ethanol, or pure alcohol.
Ethanol brings on headaches thanks to a chemical acetate it can produce and even low doses can affect some people more than others, said the study.
Professor Michael Oshinsky, of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, induced headaches in rats using small amounts of ethanol.
He then gave them doses of caffeine and anti-inflammatories to find it blocked the acetate and relieved the headaches
Prof Oshinsky told the journal New Scientist “none of the commonly cited causes of hangovers could have caused this response”.
The rats were not dehydrated either, going against an argument that coffee should not be used as a hangover cure because it just causes further dehydration.
The research will spark a new debate over just what is the best cure for a throbbing head after a night on the town.
Some argue drinking water is better than a caffeinated drink because it rehydrates the body while others still swear by the restorative powers of a full English breakfast to redress the body’s balance.
Others argue for a hair of the dog, in particular something including a fruit juice and a little bit of spice which is why a Bloody Mary is often cited as a popular choice.
And some advise against using painkillers, particularly the stronger ones like aspirin and ibuprofen, as they can cause stomach upsets after a heavy night out.
This is because they give the liver work to do when it is already stretched trying to deal with all the alcohol from the previous evening, so the argument goes.
Oshinsky’s tests on rats left a 4-6 hour gap between giving them the alcohol and giving them the cure as this allowed time for the headaches to develop.