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Hangover Patch: Really?

Michael  W. Smith, MD - Blogs
By Michael W. Smith, MDBoard-certified internistDecember 29, 2011
From the WebMD Archives

Since you’re reading this, you’re likely one of the many who have woken up with a splitting headache and a queasy stomach after a night of one too many. So on the cusp of the New Year, slapping on a patch that promises to prevent a hangover sounds quite appealing, huh?

The Bytox hangover remedy patch claims “maximum relief from hangovers.” I had to explore it further since nothing has ever been shown to work particularly well against a couple of martinis, 2 glasses of champagne, and … let’s just stop there.

The Bytox website claims that when you drink alcohol, vitamin B-1 (also known as thiamine) and other nutrients are “rapidly depleted from the body.” The effect that this lack of nutrients has on the nervous system is, they claim, what causes a hangover. Bytox, when taken prior to drinking, reportedly replenishes these vitamins, “thus restoring the body’s natural balance.” There are several other similar hangover prevention remedies on the market as well.

Here’s the problem with the theory and the patch. Yes, Bytox’s creator and plastic surgeon Leonard Grossman, MD noted in an interview, we give thiamine to people who have had too much to drink but that’s for chronic alcohol users who may have a serious deficit of thiamine that can lead to serious neurologic complications.

There is no research to suggest that dousing your body with thiamine and other vitamins prior to a night of drinking will help prevent a hangover. In addition, while a patch is a great way to deliver medicine to your body, it would take several hours before the vitamins even get absorbed into your body to have their purported anti-hangover effect.

So while I, and other medical experts, are doubtful of the hangover patch, truth is we’re not really sure what works. So let me know what you’ve tried to help a hangover (and please don’t tell me “hair of the dog.”) And arm yourself with anti-hangover information from WebMD’s 12 Myths About Your Hangover slideshow.

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About the Author
Michael W. Smith, MD

Michael Smith, MD, CPT, is a board-certified internal medicine doctor and WebMD’s Chief Medical Editor. He is also an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer with a passion for helping people live a healthy, active lifestyle. He appears regularly as an expert on national and local broadcast media.

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