What Are Hangover Pills And Are They Really Worth Taking?

Waking up after a night of heavy drinking can be rough. The headache, nausea, and sweating can make you want to swear off alcohol altogether. But you pop some pain medication and maybe an antacid with a bottle of water and hope your hangover won't ruin the rest of your day.

The supplement industry knows your pain, and now you can take a pill that promises to prevent a wretched hangover. One pill, called Myrkl, is a two-capsule combo that you take before you start drinking. In other words, it won't help you much after you've indulged. It touts 30 years of research in the making, and many verified customers on the website say things like, "It's genuinely a miracle that they do work. Woke up feeling fresh!" Here's one interesting thing: The U.S. website calls Myrkl a "food supplement" and makes no claims of curing a hangover. However, the EU version of the website claims it's a "pre-drinking supplement."

The product has 38% of your daily recommendation of vitamin B12, which the website claims will help reduce fatigue. It also has L-cysteine, which is an amino acid that acts as an antioxidant (via WebMD). Myrkl also has a proprietary blend of Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus coagulans, which are probiotics. According to MedlinePlus, Bacillus coagulans can be used to treat irritable bowel syndrome or constipation.

How do these hangover pills work?

The manufacturer of Myrkl, de Faire Medical, explains how alcohol breaks down in the body. The liver breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, which produces acetic acid. De Faire Medical says it's the acetic acid that makes you feel sick after drinking. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it's the acetaldehyde that's the toxic substance and causes rapid heartbeat, flushing, and nausea as the body processes the alcohol. However, the acetaldehyde is short-lived until it turns into acetate. Acetate is then broken down into carbon dioxide and water.

According to de Faire Medical, Myrkl meets alcohol in the gut before it reaches your liver and breaks it down into carbon dioxide and water there. Myrkl was tested in a 2022 study published in Nutrition and Metabolic Insights funded by de Faire Medical. For a week, 24 people took Myrkl (or a placebo) twice a day and were told not to drink any alcohol. On the seventh day, they ate a light breakfast and drank a small amount of 80-proof vodka depending on their weight. Because the amount of alcohol they drank was so low, it barely registered in the blood tests and breathalyzers of 10 people. Therefore, data for only 14 people was used in the study. Compared to the placebo group, 70% of the blood alcohol was metabolized after 60 minutes in the Myrkl group. Alcohol measured in a breathalyzer was reduced by 30% after 60 minutes.

Are these hangover pills worth the hype?

Because Myrkl claims it metabolizes much of the alcohol before it can enter your bloodstream, the logic is that the less alcohol in your system, the less severe the hangover. If you binge drink on the weekends, Myrkl is not for you, according to de Faire. The website makes it clear that it's geared toward "moderate social drinkers struggling to metabolize alcohol effectively." Drinking in excess while taking Myrkl would mean that it would take longer to get drunk and be more costly to do so.

News Atlas points out that de Faire's research study never measured levels of acetaldehyde or acetic acid, even though the website mentions these two byproducts in how Myrkl works. And according to The Conversation, what the researchers did in the study and how Myrkl is packaged are two different things. In other words, the study participants refrained from alcohol for a week while taking Myrkl twice a day. Myrkl's packaging says simply to take the pills two hours before drinking. Alcohol is also absorbed differently according to weight, sex, levels of physical activity, and how much food you eat. Finally, you tend to feel a hangover because alcohol is dehydrating, so maybe subbing water for every other drink might be a better option for warding off a hangover.