Amanda Pendolino
August 19, 2013

Scientists Working to Create a No-Hangover Beer

Want to pound some brews without getting a hangover the next day? Your drunken dreams just might come true — though probably not any time soon.

Ben Desbrow, a researcher at Griffith Health Institute in Australia, added some electrolytes to beer to find out if they’d make drinkers less dehydrated. Common wisdom suggests it’s the post-binge dehydration that causes hangovers — so this electrolyte-fortified beer could’ve been a huge boon to drinkers looking to avoid the dreaded morning after.

“We basically manipulated the electrolyte levels of two commercial beers, one regular strength and one light beer, and gave it to research subjects who’d just lost a significant amount of sweat by exercising,” Desbrow said in a statement. “We then used several measures to monitor the participant’s fluid recovery to the different beers.”

Participants lost about two percent of their body mass after exercising and replenished most of the fluid they lost with beer. The light beer (with 2.3 percent alcohol by volume) fortified with sodium fared the best, helping the subjects retain about one-third more of their body’s fluids and urinate less.

But don’t get too excited — the effects of the electrolyte-fortified beer weren’t statistically different than the effects of regular light beer (which had less alcohol than regular beer).

Photo credit: Ion Vodka

Photo credit: Ion Vodka

You can already buy vodka infused with electrolytes. Ion Vodka, introduced a few years ago, claims to “lessen the effects of your hangover by approximately 50 percent.” You can also — wait for it — mix regular vodka with Gatorade to create a special mixed drink that I believe is called College.

Perhaps the electrolyte alcohol trend hasn’t really caught on because hangovers are about more than just dehydration. Michael Oshinsky, the director of preclinical research at the Jefferson Headache Center in Pennsylvania, says hangover headaches often stem from acetate, a byproduct of alcohol metabolism.

“We reproduced the alcohol-induced headache in rats,” he explained. “If you block the enzyme that breaks down acetaldehyde to acetate, you don’t get a headache.”

It sounds like we need alcohol with added electrolytes AND some kind of compound that prevents acetate production. Get to work, scientists! One study found hangovers are at their worst in 29-year-olds, so we near-30-somethings need help. (I imagine that 35-year-olds physically get terrible hangovers too, but are wise enough to drink less?)

Of course, we could avoid all of this hangover nonsense by simply avoiding alcohol — but that’s no fun, is it?