A Cure for Hangovers?

Aug 25, 2023

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a tried-and-true cure for a hangover is _________.

Insert hair of the dog, Gatorade/Pedialyte, Coca-Cola, coffee/no coffee, Red Bull, pickle juice, fruit, biscuits and gravy or burgers and fries, and liquor before beer, a shower, IV hydration, physical exercise, soup, vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione etc.—these are all wives’ tales of unproven efficacy, or probably more accurately, husbands’ tales since men tend to consume more alcohol than women.

Aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are not great recommendations either since aspirin may aggravate alcohol-induced gastritis or irritation of the stomach lining and acetaminophen + alcohol depletes the antioxidant, glutathione, which increases the risk of hepatotoxicity or liver damage. Also, unlike aspirin or NSAIDs, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is not an anti-inflammatory.

That said, the reflex to use aspirin or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like Aleve or Motrin is not a bad idea in and of itself outside of the gastritis risk because hangover severity positively and significantly correlates with blood concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and C-reactive protein (CRP).[1]

This data suggests that the use of less toxic anti-inflammatories that cross the blood brain barrier and reach the central nervous system (CNS) may once and for all put the over in hangover.

Enter the NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitors. These inhibitors reduce inflammation.

To date, the two most clinically advanced direct inhibitors of the NLRP3 inflammasome are nibrozetone (RRx-001) and OLT1177, both of which are associated with minimal toxicity and both of which cross the blood brain barrier and reach therapeutic concentrations.

NLRP3 inhibitors are proposed to treat an alphabet of diseases from A to Z—Alzheimer’s to Zika, for example.

Under the letter “H” in addition to hemoglobinopathies and hepatic fibrosis for nibrozetone (RRx-001) let’s add hangover as a potential use.

We’ll drink to that.

[1] van de Loo AJAE, Mackus M, Kwon O, Krishnakumar IM, Garssen J, Kraneveld AD, Scholey A, Verster JC. The Inflammatory Response to Alcohol Consumption and Its Role in the Pathology of Alcohol Hangover. J Clin Med. 2020 Jul 2;9(7):2081.