Is Coffee the Cure for a Hangover?

Does Coffee Actually Help?

Grab a Cup and Sober Up

In the recent movie release Downhill with Will Ferrell and Julia-Louise Dryfus, there is a scene where Ferrell has drowned his sorrows a little too much and gets drunk. (Not unusual for a Will Ferrell film.) His buddy tells him that he needs to get some coffee into him stat to help sober him up before he meets up with his wife for dinner.

This concept of drinking coffee after a bender is nothing new of course. Coffee is frequently used as an aide to help one sober up and has been used as a recovery option the morning after in many movies and TV shows. But is coffee the cure for a hangover? For many people, the answer is a very careful “yes.”


What You Can Learn from a Bunch of Drunk Rats

For some people who drink heavily, the go to response to counter a hangover is by taking an aspirin and downing it with a cup of coffee. They might even do it as a habit rather than knowing if it really works. But according to Michael Oshinsky from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it just might be the right thing if acetate is causing the issue. He came to this conclusion after doing a test on a bunch of rats who were prone to migraines.

Oshinsky tested the effect of low doses of ehanol, which is about the same as a single alcoholic drink. Small amounts of alcohol can cause migraine headaches to humans (and rats) who are prone to them. After four to six hours, the rats showed signs of having a headache. (No, they did not walk around with ice packs on their foreheads.) So, the reasoning here is that caffeine and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory painkillers can block some of the effects of acetate which then gives relief.

A women feeling nausea from a hangover looking in her bathroom mirror

The Morning After

If a person wakes up with hangover, sometime the best they can hope for is knowing that the night before was worth all the pain that came afterward and wait it out. Eventually, the hangover will go away. But there are a few tricks that can help speed things along.

The first thing that anyone nursing a hangover should do is drink a glass of water and urinate to get the toxins out of one’s body. Then wait it out a few minutes. If this person can keep from throwing up the water that they just drank, they should then go for a second glass and then rest for a half hour. Still doing okay? Go ahead and fix a good cup of coffee.

While it may not sound like the best idea, the coffee will operate like a stimulant with the caffeine blocking the acetate. After one cup of joe, wait for another half hour before consuming yet another glass of water. If then one feels the need for yet another cup of coffee, go for it, but don’t overdo it. Drinking more coffee won’t really help at this point.

Be aware that coffee will also function like a diuretic, so be sure to drink glasses of water to keep hydrated. And avoid adding a lot of sugar or sweetened creamers into the coffee as it can wreak havoc on one’s empty stomach. Sugar metabolizes quickly and can mess with one’s glucose levels. If one is feeling up to eating, start out with something simple like a piece of toast.

The Reason Coffee Can Be Effective

“Caffeine jumpstarts your body through the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters,” says “Norepinephrine and epinephrine stimulate several reactions which prepare you for fight-or-flight situations. Each effect enhances your ability to respond effectively.”

Regular coffee drinkers can benefit from a cup of coffee during hangover as it can help one from getting a caffeine withdrawal. However, in this case, the coffee isn’t really helping one get over a hangover, it is only helping one to not make the hangover worse, not that anyone will really care at this point.

Caffeine increases one’s heart rate which in turn causes a spike in blood flow and oxygen that travels to one’s muscles. The java beverage can also simulate one’s metabolism, aid in helping one keep focus and keeping one alert. Caffeine operates quickly. Most people will begin to feel the positive effects of drinking coffee within 30 minutes of consuming the beverage. (LittleCoffeePlace)

Coffee Cautions

While coffee and caffeine can be effective, they are not the cure-all for all hangovers. Just as two people can consume the same amount of alcohol, how they experience the situation afterward can vary differently. One person might wake up with a mild headache while the other could experience a painful pounding, in the head.

Pay attention to the symptoms and address them accordingly. If one is already a coffee drinker, drinking one cup of java may help a great deal as well as being very necessary to avoid a caffeine withdrawal.

Be sure to monitor one’s situation well as one can make their hangover worse. For some people, coffee will do more harm than good. With the narrowing of one’s blood vessels, the blood pressure increases and can in turn increase a pounding headache.

But non coffee drinkers shouldn’t take up drinking coffee to treat their hangovers. If they do, it will probably not be very effective and could actually make things worse.

Another concern is stomach upset. People who suffer from acid reflux should avoid drinking coffee as it could make their symptoms worse making them feel sicker than they were when they woke up.

It is also worth noting that despite how one feels, the elements in coffee will not prevent or slow down the effects of the alcohol one drank the night before.

“The molecules in coffee, adenosine, adrenaline and caffeine may increase your alertness, says Scott, a writer for “But they don’t interact with the same receptors that alcohol affects. After enough coffee you’ll be more awake, but you won’t be any more ready to drive.” (Driftaway Coffee)