Can dunking your head in ice water help cure a hangover?

Waking up after an alcohol filled night is not on our list of favourite life moments.

There are myriad sensations, thoughts and emotions that come with such a rude awakening.

First comes the pain, then the sickness, then the anxiety, the flashbacks and the discovery of an unfinished bag of curry chips next to your pillow.

However, one of the most overwhelming feelings is the thirst.

It’s like you have never drank a liquid in your life. Your mouth is scratchy and dry and all you want to do is rewind your bad decisions.

Another strange experience is the powerful urge to dip your entire body in ice water. Sometimes, it feels like your body is on fire and the only way to ease the discomfort is by being submerged in the chill.

And now it seems that doing just that can ease a hangover.

According to TikTok user @ashyizzle, the best thing to do the morning after is to dunk your head in a bowl of ice cold water.

She advises others to keep their face in the water for as long as it takes to feel better.

‘I feel amazing,’ she says after dipping her head in a second time.

‘Felt awake and alert, looked like all the pores on mg face disappeared, and golly all my nausea was gone [sic].’

But is this hack a silly fluke or does it stand on some medical grounds?

Well, Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy says cold water on the face can actually help a hangover because of something knowns as ‘Diver’s Reflex.’

‘When you have a hangover, you experience a variety of miserable symptoms including headache, feeling thirsty, nausea, dizziness, feeling weak, tiredness, excessive sweating, and sensitivity to bright lights,’ she tells

‘These symptoms are due to the toxic effect of acetaldehyde – the major breakdown product from alcohol – plus the effects of alcohol on the body which include an increased need to pee and dehydration.

‘This can also result in an imbalance in your sodium and potassium levels, and low blood sugar. Dehydration results in a fast heart rate and low blood pressure.

‘Immersing your face in ice water helps a hangover because it sets off the diver’s reflex. When divers dive underwater, the cold receptors in the skin trigger the trigeminal nerve – the cranial nerve that supplies the skin of the face.

‘Nerve impulses are then transmitted to the brainstem, which activates the involuntary nerve pathway – the parasympathetic (PSNS) nervous system. This results in bradycardia (slowing of the heart rate) and constriction of blood vessels on the skin at the cold site, diverting blood back towards the brain and heart.

‘Specialised receptors in the carotid arteries in the neck, also react to cold by slowing the heart rate.’

Ice water can also stimulate the vagus nerve, which controls bodily functions such as digestion, heart rate and immune response.

‘It may help some other hangover symptoms,’ she says. ‘Short episodes of vagal nerve stimulation have been shown to raise blood glucose.

‘Plus, vagal nerve stimulation also increases blood flow to the kidney, which will help support renal function. Vagal nerve stimulation may help decrease sweating and has been shown to relieve symptoms of nausea and vomiting.’

However, Dr Lee warns people not to use the ice technique excessively.

‘Cold water shock can result in heart arrhythmias,’ she explains.

‘This is not advisable for anyone with a heart condition. You are likely to get the most benefit from only a brief immersion in the cold water.

‘Prolonged exposure to the cold temperature is unlikely to give much additional benefit and could increase your risks.’

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