Wake up with an aching head and queasy stomach this weekend? (Or this morning? Did you have a Sunday Funday? No judgment!) Hangovers suck, no question about it. Ibuprofen, sleep, a Bloody Mary -- they may provide some relief, but that doesn't stop us from wishing for a true miracle cure.
So we had to wonder about oxygen bars. Originally popular in Vegas nightclubs, oxygen bars, cafes and mall kiosks have begun appearing across the country. Because they're not FDA-regulated, they can't make any specific health claims—but the idea behind oxygen bars is that the airflow can help you feel energized, relaxed, or, yes, hangover-free. But do they really work? And is it actually worth paying for air?
First, the 411 on all things O2: Oxygen bars generally have different aromatherapy options, ranging from "energizing" scents like peppermint and citrus, to "relaxing" ones like chamomile. Oxygen gas (which is about 95% pure) is then bubbled through scented water and pumped through a breathing tube that you plug into your nose for about 15 minutes—and about $15 bucks—a session. The air flow is very subtle; you may barely notice any pressure at all. The same goes for the aromatherapy: It's usually a mere hint of a scent, at best.
Oxygen bars are safe, says SELF's medical advisor Harry Lodge, MD, for healthy adults without chronic breathing conditions like COPD. But they probably won't make you feel any different, he concedes; anyone who believes otherwise is likely experiencing wishful thinking and a placebo effect. (The American Lung Association agrees.)
Sorry to disappoint you party people, but it looks like for a hangover, prevention is still the best cure. Next time you forget that, though (St. Patrick's Day or Spring Break, perhaps?), turn to these doctor-approved remedies; they're likely to help you more than a bunch of hot air.
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