A hangover begins with a deep thirst felt throughout the body then nausea and a headache pain settle in. The lukewarm glass of water you gathered from the bathroom sink doesn't seem to alleviate the malaise, but you know you should be drinking it now and should have been drinking more of it last night. Under a baseball cap and sunglasses, you look to the local drugstore for a panacea with punch: the rehydrating mixture of Pedialyte in fruit-flavored ice pops.

Suffused with electrolytes, the drink is given to infants to replenish fluids and minerals during bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. Recently, the electrolyte drink has been reclaimed by bleary-eyed adults as a supposed miracle cure for hangovers. The ice pops may deliver a sweet cold modicum of relief, but leave many in want of the bad feelings to go away. 

Stanley Goldfarb, a medical professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says the only real cure to a hangover is time. “There’s nothing you can do to remove the alcohol by products,” he told Slate. “They have to be metabolized by your liver, which takes time. There’s no evidence that anything is better than waiting.”

Simply, there is no reason rehydration would ease a hangover because the symptoms following an alcoholic binge have nothing to do with fluids but rather a buildup of waste from the metabolism of alcohol, according to Dr. Michael Oshinsky, a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University. “The work that we’ve done has demonstrated that it’s not dehydration that causes the headache,” he told Slate. “It’s the buildup of one of the metabolites, one of the chemicals that alcohol is broken down into.”

The liver metabolizes alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is then broken down into acetate, a substance common in the body. But acetate in larger than normal quantities causes the pain associated with alcoholic hangovers. Although drinking alcohol may carry a diuretic effect, the need to replenish fluids is not necessarily the source of discomfort.

Still, as long as people drink alcohol, people will be in search of a cure for the common hangover. At least, drinking Pedialyte offers more benefits in vitamins and flavor compared to the last fad hangover cure: Vietnamese rhinoceros horns.