13 hangover cures from around the world

Hangover cures

Besides the bleeping obvious (not drinking in the first place or drinking lots of water during a night out), here are 13 hangover cures I’ve encountered while travelling around the world or that have been suggested by my fellow travelling companions. Try any combination of the below to cure your New Years’ Eve hangover.

The average South African drinks around 11 litres of alcohol a year, nearly double the global average of 6.2 litres, or so says a 2014 World Health Organisation report. We’re not faring too badly, considering that 61.7% of the world’s population doesn’t drink at all. But if we were competing in the Drinking Olympics then we’d have to down-downs quite a bit more to catch up with Belarus, which tops the list of 190 countries at 17.5 litres – they need to drink to keep warm, or at least that’s the excuse I imagine they’re sticking to.

Unlike some of my more seasoned drinking friends, I don’t have any ritual hangover cures for the morning after, however I do know to take an Aspirin, which is metabolised by the kidneys, instead of a Panado, which is metabolised by the liver, which is probably already struggling. Others swear by medical rehydrate mixtures, sports drinks or a greasy breakfast.

1. South Africa: take a ride in the Green Ambulance

Amasi, a fermented sour milk drink, should be a go-to babalas cure as it’s rich in probiotics and rehydrates. As does our world-famous Rooibos tea. Then there’s always Creme Soda, which is known as Creme Sober or the Green Ambulance. Others still will simply tell you to just keep drinking.Hangover cures2. Canada: Bloody Caesar

On the partying and drinking front, I never could keep up with my wild Polish-Canadian roommate, Kasia, so it’s no surprise that I don’t think I could stomach her version of Canadian hangover cures either.

There are many variants of the Bloody Caesar, the most common contains vodka (they’re obviously of the school of thought that you ought to keep drinking), Clamato (a mixture of tomato juice and – wait for it – clam broth), hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. It’s served like a Bloody Mary over ice in a salt-rimmed glass, with a dash of lime and garnished with a celery stick.

Apparently around about 350 million Bloody Caesars are consumed in Canada each year – now I can’t verify whether that’s for the purpose of getting drunk, curing a hangover, or both.

Hangover cures

3. Peru and Bolivia: Tiger’s Milk (Leche de Tigre)

I spent six weeks in Peru and Bolivia celebrating my Master’s so there was a fair share of drinking. It’s not surprising then that I came across Leche de Tigre, Tiger’s Milk, a number of times. This concoction of lime juice and finely chopped onions, garlic, chillies and coriander is seasoned with salt and pepper. This acidic liquid mixture is used to cure raw fish in the famed South American dish called ceviche, although if you’re not feeling hundreds you probably ought to leave the last ingredient out. The high concentration of phosphorous and calcium revives the body and has dubbed it levanta muertos or raise the dead. You can buy it at any street market stall, no matter the time of day or night, or at local restaurants.

Hangover cures

4. Poland: homemade pickle juice

By pure chance I happened to be in Poland (my country of birth) for my 30th birthday this year, which naturally involved drinking a fair amount of vodka shots, Spolica (a hazelnut-flavoured vodka) and homemade cherry liqueur (Wisniowka) and of course beer (Zywiec is my favourite).

Unlike the pickling juice from the gherkins you’ll buy in South Africa, Polish pickle juice is salty rather than sweet-sour and doesn’t contain vinegar. It replaces the salt and electrolytes in your body and even Dr Oz is recommending it these days. My grandmother’s recipe includes a few dill branches, whole pepper corns, mustard seeds, garlic cloves, and a teaspoon of salt placed in a sterilised jar of cooled boiled water with fresh cucumbers ready for pickling. Place it in a cool dark place for around four weeks to allow them to ferment. Some poles may accidentally drink the whole jar, after a night of heavy drinking, so there’s no juice left for the pickles to soak in. Guess we know what they’re eating for breakfast then.

Hangover cures

5. Germany: pickled herrings

Rollmops or pickled herrings, whatever you call them, the Germans refer to them as Katerfrühstück, which means hangover breakfast or is literally translated to “The first meal of the day after a night of heavy drinking”. Germans know that pickled herring fillets wrapped around onion slices and gherkins are sure to restore your electrolytes after a night of alcoholic frivolity at Oktoberfest.

Hangover cures

6. Italy: Espresso

Many can’t bear to face the day without a morning cup of coffee or a strong double shot of espresso, that’s true in Italy as it is around the world, especially when you’ve awoken with a pounding headache. This is probably one of the world’s most common hangover cures.


7. Romania: Beef tripe soup (ciorba de burta) 

While it makes my stomach turn, boiled cow/oxen stomach lining seems to be the favoured among hangover cures in Romania, where spicy beef tripe soup (ciorba de burta) reigns supreme. Locals in the Eastern European nation swear by it and it’s considered to be among the tastiest of Romanian soups. They boil the tripe with freshly chopped vegetables, garlic and vinegar. A dollop of fresh cream gives it the milky colour its known for. Here’s a ciorba de burta recipe.

Hangover cures

8. Russia: Sauna

When you consider that the average Russian drinks around 15.1 litres of alcohol a year, you’d expect that they’ve perfected a number of hangover cures. Any Russian worth their shot glass (they are ranked as the fourth highest alcohol-consuming nation in the world) will tell you to head to the sauna to sweat out all those toxins. Just be sure to rehydrate yourself good and proper before and after you do so, as you’ll only be losing more liquids in the steamer.

Hangover cures

9. Japan: pickled plums (Umeboshi)

The Japanese eat Umeboshi (salty and sour, pickled plums) to cure a hangover because they contain picric and citric acid, which are good for you.

“Freshwater clam is also a good hangover cure,” tells me my Japanese friend Erika. “In Japan many people eat Miso soup made from freshwater clams,” she continues. Now I can’t think of anything worse to eat when I feel like death warmed up, but it’s seemingly very popular. “It’ll recover your body,” Erika reassures me.

Hangover cures

10. South Korea: Haejangguk

In the two years that I lived in South Korea, I spent many a Saturday afternoon at a Korean diner slurping on Haejangguk or Sulguk (literally meaning hangover soup) from a stoneware bowl. Adjoshi‘s (married Korean men – many of whom are known for their proclivities towards soju rice wine) live by it. While there are different variations based on region, the version most popular in Seoul is made using soybean paste, dried Napa cabbage, vegetables, soybean sprouts, radish, and scallions cooked in an ox bone broth.

Hangover cures

11. Thailand: Pad Kee Mao

Thailand is known for its full moon parties and the raucous night life along its many beaches and on party islands. Pad Kee Mao is therefore appropriately named drunken noodles. You can buy it in the late morning from street food stalls or local diners. This spicy dish, which is made from broad rice noodles is doused in soy and fish sauce and sprinkled with garlic, bean sprouts and spices. Add meat or fish if you can stomach it. Here’s a Pad Kee Mao recipe.

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12. China: Green tea and Congee

The Chinese have been sipping on green tea for more than 4 000 years and call it the wonder cure for anything and everything, especially the morning after. Green tea contains a large amount of antioxidants and bioactive compounds that are believed to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and cancer, help treat multiple sclerosis and improve brain function.

Drink your green tea with thick Congee rice porridge, which rehydrates, and is another popular Chinese hangover cure. You can make it by cooking rice in water until it disintegrates and becomes thick and creamy.

Hangover cures

13. England: The Great British Fry Up

And last but not least, when it comes to hangover cures the Britons advocate for a good and proper greasy breakies of bacon, sausages, egg, toast, baked beans and a hash brown for good measure, which they have called The Great British Fry Up. And knowing the British, they’ll probably devour it with a cuppa tea on the side.

While the above cures have not been medically proven, they’ve been crowd-sourced from seasoned drinkers who have survived many a hangover. Now to go grab another drink! ;)

Please tell me (in the comments below) about hangover cures from your country that I can add to this list or that you have come across on your travels.

Iga Motylska

Iga Motylska is a Johannesburg-based freelance writer, photojournalist, sub-editor and blogger. She is published in numerous local and international publications, including: Forbes Africa, Forbes Woman Africa, Forbes Life Africa, CNBC Africa, Ventures Africa, Marie Claire, Sawubona, AA Traveller, Fastjet inflight magazine and Seoul Magazine among numerous others. Her editorial interests range from documenting the entrepreneurial spirit to women's and human rights issues, environmental affairs and of course travel writing.

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