Pedialyte, Gatorade, and Curing a Hangover

When it comes to hangover cures, Pedialyte has become one of the most popular in recent years. Packed full of electrolytes and originally designed to help rehydrate sick children, if you were to go to a bar this weekend and ask drinkers what they take to help with a hangover, you’d almost certainly hear it mentioned. And in fact, this isn’t the first time Pedialyte has had a moment in the sun as the hangover cure of choice; it was similarly popular a few decades ago, and has lurked around the periphery over the years before suddenly gaining a lot more popularity in recent years.

So the question of course, is: does it actually work, or is this all a marketing illusion? If you’ve read our blog posts about the science of a hangover, you probably already know the answer. Pedialyte is a great solution to help with dehydration. That’s what it was designed for! Just like Gatorade, another popular hangover cure, all those electrolytes do a fantastic job of getting your body rehydrated. Problem is, dehydration is not the cause of a hangover, nor will rehydrating do anything to cure a hangover itself. You can be both dehydrated and hungover, and some of the symptoms can overlap, but they are two different biological processes, and you can be brutally, awfully, hiding on the covers waiting for death to come level hungover...and perfectly well hydrated.

So why is it that solutions like Pedialyte and Gatorade are so popular? Well, it’s really a couple of things. First, they do help with dehydration. So, if you’re hungover and dehydrated, getting yourself rehydrated will make you feel better. It doesn't make you feel 100% improved, but hey, a little better is still better. Of course, you could get the exact same improvement just by downing a couple of glasses of water, but sure, Pedialyte or Gatorade will likely get the trick done a bit faster. The other half of the equation, is simply good marketing. Pedialyte in the past five years has made a direct and concerted effort to sell more to an adult audience, targeting not just their ads to that purpose, but also making a big push on social media and at festivals and sporting events all over the country. And it worked.

At the end of the day, electrolytes are not going to cure your hangover, no matter whether you get them from Pedialyte, Gatorade, Emergen-C, or anything else. They’ll help with dehydration, but so will a glass of water before going to bed. Unfortunately, once you’re hungover, there is no cure but time.