Can A Hydrating IV Treatment Really Cure A Hangover?

We all have a hangover cure we swear by. Maybe it's an ice cold soda and greasy cheeseburger. Or perhaps you're the Gatorade-and-sweat-it-out type. Whatever method you use, the goal is always the same: to stop feeling cruddy as soon as humanly possible. While there is probably little merit to both the cheeseburger method as well as the very impressive gym class hero method, those who've sat down for a hydrating IV after a long night of drinking swear up and down that it is the hangover cure to end all other hangover cures.

Since the 1960s, the intravenous administration of medication has been common practice in American hospitals (per IV Watch). However, it wasn't until recently that marketing masterminds positioned IV hydration as a casual way to juice up after a long night out.

The Cleveland Clinic explains that when IV fluids — typically consisting of sterilized water and sodium chloride — are injected into your vein, it can be an effective treatment for dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. However, much more than just salt and water, the solutions being administered for hangover symptoms often boast a combination of saline, vitamins, and targeted medications — like anti nausea medicine (per WebMD). But do they really work? Or is this just another passing health fad? Let's find out.

What does IV therapy do for hangover symptoms?

As much as we love to indulge from time to time, there's no denying that the effects of alcohol become a lot less fun the next morning. Drink Aware explains that's because alcohol contains the toxic chemical ethanol. Ethanol is a diuretic, which means it stimulates urine production. After a night full of bathroom visits, you're sure to be more than a little dehydrated the next morning, which can contribute to hangover symptoms like headache and fatigue. What's more, alcohol is an irritant and can wreak havoc on the gastrointestinal lining, which is why so many people experience nausea and vomiting after a night on the town (per National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).

With this in mind, IV fluid packed with vitamins and anti-nausea medication should, theoretically, address the majority of hangover symptoms — and IV hydration enthusiasts are adamant that it does! However, Hackensack Meridian Health maintains that the only way to truly rid the body of alcohol is to wait for the liver to finish breaking it down, and even the most vitamin-packed IV fluid can't speed up that process. Further, many medical professionals point out that the treatments are neither validated by clinical research nor approved by the Food and Drug Administration (per CBS News).