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Myth: Pickleback shots prevent hangovers

picklebackTRUTH:  I love a good dill pickle.  But the thought of a pickleback shot, is completely disgusting to me.  For those who don’t know, a pickleback is a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice.  Ew.  But, the way it’s been explained to me is that it masks the flavor of terrible whiskey (which really begs a greater question: why are you drinking terrible whiskey?!).  In addition, supposedly, it prevents hangovers.

In any case, I’m not here to judge the enjoyment of said shot.  I’m here to let you know that this isn’t the case!  The argument seems to be that picklebacks, loaded with salt, help your body retain water (thus preventing dehydration, thus protecting our bodies against the dreaded hangover headache).  Not true, readers!

Where did this myth come from?  It has been shown that pickle juice can help treat  exercise-induced cramping.  More specifically, when you sweat a lot, you lose sodium and potassium in your sweat.  So, you’re dehydrated and your electrolyte balance is off, making you prone to cramping.  In that case, pickle juice helps because it replaces lost electrolytes and helps hydration.

So what’s the difference?  When you’re drinking, your hangover is not caused by excessive loss of water and salt so packing more salt in won’t actually help you.  Plus, given the fact that you’re only doing a shot of it, it’s not providing adequate hydration.

BOTTOM LINE:  After a night of drinking, have some water before you go to bed.  The salty bar snacks were plenty of salt.  And buy some better whiskey to sip and enjoy!



  1. New York Times blog: Pickle juice after exercise
  2. The Times Magazine:  Got Your Pickleback

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