Aiming to Avoid a Hangover? Water May Not Help

A bartender pours a pitcher of beer at a restaurant in Jakarta, Indonesia August 6. Darren Whiteside/Reuters

Downing water desperately to prevent tomorrow's hangover? A word to the wise: That might not necessarily do anything for your throbbing head.

New research suggests that chugging water won't assuage your hangover and, unfortunately for some, the only way to prevent a hangover is abstaining from alcohol altogether. The study was fronted by a team of researchers based in the Netherlands and Canada, and is to be presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference in Amsterdam.

In the Netherlands, 826 students either ate fatty foods food or drank water after consuming copious amounts of alcohol, and researchers then used the data to try to see if hangovers could be prevented. Of the students, 54% consumed either fattening foods that night or a hangover brunch. In the other group, over two-thirds of the students drank water in between alcoholic drinks, while over half drank water before going to sleep.

Researchers found that those who drank water were a wee bit less hungover, but there wasn't enough of a difference between the groups to determine that the extra liquid had, in fact, helped. From the sound of it, everyone was relegated to wearing sunglasses and popping headache medicine the next day.

By contrast, the group in Canada set out to investigate the claim that 25% of people never get hangovers. There, researchers studied the drinking habits of 789 students in the past month. Researchers determined that the unicorns who claimed they didn't get hangovers had actually practicing moderation, and had not drunk enough "to develop a hangover in the first place."

Experts say that drinking water can help with the cotton-mouth feeling and can help quench thirst, but won't "take away the misery, the headache and the nausea," Joris Verster, from Utrecht University, told the BBC.

So as for right now, there's no clear cure in sight. Researchers are sadly reiterating what your mother always told you: Don't drink, and you won't be hungover.