It’s Saturday morning. As you begin to wake up, you feel disoriented, your mouth is dry, and a headache pounds at your skull. Slightly nauseated, a bit hungry, and very tired, you begin to realize the unwanted effects of a heavy night of drinking: the dreaded hangover. As you silently vow never to drink that much again, you also begin to wonder, “Is there is a surefire way to cure a hangover?” One guy in college swore by the “Hair of the Dog” treatment — drink more alcohol and your hangover will disappear cure — but doing such a thing sounds so counterintuitive. And in fact, that’s because it is; drinking more alcohol will only make your hangover worse.

The Origins of 'Hair of The Dog'

“Hair of the Dog” is a mainly English colloquial term that’s shortened from the older phrase, “Hair of the dog that bit you.” This longer phrase can be traced back to the time of William Shakespeare.

However, the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable attributes the quote to the Greek playwright Aristophanes, who might’ve said, “If this dog do you bite, soon as out of your bed, take a hair of the tail the next day.”

Some sources also claim the phrase comes from an old method of treating rabies — taking the hair of the dog that bit you and either placing it directly on the wound or drinking it in a brew.

What Is A Hangover

Now that we understand what the phrase is attributed to and where it comes from, let’s figure out how that hangover got there.

Dennis Twombly, program director for the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told LiveScience that the severity of a hangover is often attributed to the blood alcohol content (BAC) level a person reaches, as well as how rapidly they drank and the amount they had. Factors that affect how fast BAC rises include gender, weight, and how much food a person eats before drinking.

The actual hangover, however, reaches its peak when BAC levels return to zero. At this point, the various symptoms of a hangover set in. Dehydration, the most common symptom of a hangover, is a result of alcohol’s diuretic effects, which make us urinate more. At the same time, an inflammatory response from the immune system can inhibit memory, concentration, and appetite. Alcohol can also irritate the inner lining of your stomach — causing abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting — and affect your blood sugar levels, making you weak, shaky, and susceptible to seizures.

Adam Rogers, science journalist and author of Proof: The Science of Booze, argues that methanol toxicity could also contribute to a hangover. When we ferment and distill ethanol, which makes up most of the alcohol we consume, a little bit of methanol is left behind, Rogers says. “If you drink enough,” he wrote, “then the trace amounts add up, and it's just enough to give you the kind of discomfort — the symptoms of a hangover.”

Could 'Hair of the Dog' Actually Work?

In his book, Rogers posits that “Hair of the Dog” could work. He wrote, "If methanol poisoning is at least in part responsible for a hangover, having a drink the next morning may alleviate symptoms.” However, he also wrote that his analysis was “very hypothetical” and that “no one has proved it.”

That said, most doctors agree that drinking more after a night of heavy drinking is a bad idea. "The worst thing to do is to have another drink," Dr. Charles Cutler, chair of the American College of Physicians' board of governors, told Health magazine. He says that you need to let your body recover, which may take up to 48 hours.

Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, a consultant in addiction psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic, told Men’s Health magazine that “Hair of the Dog” is a bad idea. “It will provide a numbing effect, but all you're doing is prolonging the inevitable, and it will likely make your headache worse."

In other words, you’re only prolonging your hangover by drinking more alcohol. And chances are that when it finally hits, you’ll wish you didn’t take that hangover shot.

Other Potential Cures

So, if “Hair of the Dog” is a really bad idea for curing your hangover, what could actually work?

Perhaps the best way to cure it is to get some sleep. Dr. Michael Fingerhood, chief of the Division of Chemical Dependency at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, told the Huffington Post, “Research shows that sleep deprivation makes a hangover worse.” So make sure you get 40 winks after drinking all those 40s.

Even if you do get sleep, however, chances are it will be far worse than the sleep you’re used to. “Your sleep is less restful, and you are going to feel less refreshed even with amounts of alcohol less than those that cause hangover,” Gantt Galloway, senior scientist in the Addiction and Pharmacology Research Laboratory at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, told Healthline.

When it comes to preventing a hangover — or trying to, at least — two recent studies found that eating pears or drinking pear juice can be helpful. Both studies showed the pear’s natural nutrition and anti-inflammatory features could help reduce the ill effects of heavy drinking, like the expanded blood vessels in the brain that cause headaches.

Pedialyte, long known for its use among children, may be another prevention method for a hangover. Since Pedialyte is high in electrolytes, which treat dehydration, and lower in sugar than drinks like Gatorade, it could be the go-to remedy for your hangover — even though most hangovers aren’t caused by dehydration alone.

Other supposed methods of preventing and curing hangovers include drinking a glass of water with every alcoholic beverage you consume, drinking some Sprite, or even calling an “IV Doctor” over to administer intravenous vitamins and fluids. However, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal, “no compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover. The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol-induced hangover is to practice abstinence or moderation.”

In other words, that means only drinking about one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Or, if you really want to avoid a hangover, do your friends a solid and be the designated driver. Let them suffer from a hangover the next morning instead.