Locations:
Search IconSearch
March 7, 2022/Health Conditions

Can Coffee Help Cure a Hangover?

Drinking coffee won’t make the pain go away, but it could make it worse

help for a hangover

On any normal morning, you might automatically reach for a cup of coffee for a caffeine-packed boost. But after a night of … well, let’s just say overindulging in a few adult beverages … you probably feel like you really need that cup of joe.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

But here’s the deal: That java juice might not be as helpful as you think in dulling the effects of a hangover — and it may actually make some of your symptoms worse.

Emergency medicine physician James Roach, DO, explains.

Hangover 101

After a lively evening, alcohol has a tendency to leave its toxic fingerprints on your body. Whether your drink of choice is beer, wine or various spirits, your internal system has a way of letting you know if you overindulged.

A headache, nausea, dry mouth and fatigue — telltale signs of a hangover — all serve as part of alcohol’s morning-after residue.

There are multiple reasons for the icky feeling, but the main culprit is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which makes you pee more. The fluid you lose with every restroom visit pushes your body’s tank toward empty.

To add to the issue, alcohol consumption also slows the release of an antidiuretic hormone (vasopressin) that works to keep your body’s hydration levels balanced.

Does coffee help hangovers?

So, if you’re dehydrated, drinking coffee should help, right? Not exactly.

Coffee also is a diuretic that makes you urinate more — which means, it’s not going to be much help refilling your depleted reserves. (Coffee also can make you poop, too.) “Drinking coffee could actually slow down your rehydration process,” notes Dr. Roach.

The caffeine in coffee might not be kind to your hangover headache, as well. Caffeine narrows blood vessels and raises blood pressure, and that could amplify the painful pounding inside of your noggin.

Of course, if you’re used to getting a morning coffee fix and skip it, then you run the risk of a caffeine withdrawal headache. So, if coffee is part of your usual routine, you might want to have a small cup — but don’t overdo it, advises Dr. Roach.

Can coffee sober you up?

Forget what you’ve seen in movies about sobering up quickly with a strong cup of java. It can’t undo a night of imbibing. “The drink is made from coffee beans, not magic beans,” says Dr. Roach.

Now the pick-me-up from the caffeine may offer a temporary energy boost and increase in alertness, but coffee has no ability to make you less drunk.

What should you drink for a hangover?

First of all, let’s get one thing clear: There is no sure-fire cure for a hangover. “There is no shortage of claims about miracle cures,” says Dr. Roach, “but they’re as real as a leprechaun riding a unicorn.”

So, what can you do? The most obvious way to halt a hangover is to simply not drink so much.

Advertisement

If you’re reading this article, however, it’s possible that closing your bar tab early is no longer a viable option. In that case, Dr. Roach recommends keeping it simple with water.

“Drink a glass before you go to bed and do the same thing when you get up,” he says.

Sports drinks also can help you hydrate, with the added bonus of restoring lost nutrients and electrolytes. But whatever you drink, take it slow: You can’t rehydrate in an instant by guzzling gallons.

Which brings us to the one thing that can make a hangover go away. “It’s just going to take time for your body to process the alcohol,” says Dr. Roach. “You’ll feel better eventually.”

Just don’t expect to find that better feeling at the bottom of a cup of coffee.

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person drinking from a coffee mug
May 21, 2024/Nutrition
Grounded in Reality: Does Coffee Dehydrate You?

Coffee is made up of mostly water, but it’s the caffeine you have to look out for

Female and male waking up with hangovers in aftermath of a party
March 13, 2024/Digestive
Hangover Pills Aren’t Worth the Hype

Misleading claims, lack of scientific evidence and the risk of over-doing it are all concerns

Young female teen drinking canned beverage outside
December 26, 2023/Children's Health
The Young and the Restless: Why Kids Should Avoid Caffeine

No amount of caffeine is safe for kids under 12, and kids 12 to 17 should be cautious about how much they consume

close up of green coffee beans
December 14, 2023/Nutrition
Should You Go Green? What To Know About Green Coffee Bean Extract

There’s no evidence to prove this supplement can help with weight loss, and it may come with risks

person holding a cup of coffee with a clock behind them
November 16, 2023/Nutrition
When Is the Best Time To Drink Coffee?

Morning, noon or night — the best time for that cup of joe depends on you

person drinking coffee at computer at night
November 14, 2023/Wellness
Is It Bad To Drink Coffee Late at Night?

Depending on your sensitivity to caffeine, a late-night cup may be just fine

person holding to go cup of coffee
November 12, 2023/Nutrition
Is It OK To Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach?

It’s fine for most, but it can worsen heartburn and ulcers if you’re prone to them

Person sitting in a chair holding head and drinking a hot beverage while not fully operational.
September 27, 2023/Wellness
How To Cure a Hangover

Time and rehydration are the best bet — and no, the ‘hair of the dog’ method isn’t a good idea

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad