Google's Pixel 7 Event National Taco Day Microsoft Surface Event Xiaomi 12T Pro's 200MP Camera iPhone 14 Pro Action Mode vs. GoPro Hero 11 TikTok Money Advice Hottest Holiday Toys Gifts for Cyclists
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you
Accept

'Anti-Hangover' Pill Myrkl Now Available in the UK: Does It Work?

There's a new anti-hangover pill for sale in the UK. But is there a catch?

Woman who is upset about waking up in the morning.
blackCAT/Getty Images

A new "anti-hangover" pill called Myrkl is now available in the UK. Despite just having been released, it's already sold out on its website. Myrkl claims to break down 70% of alcohol in 60 minutes to ensure a nasty hangover doesn't boggle you down following a night of drinking. 

Is this anti-hangover solution a wonder pill, or is it too good to be true? Here's what we know. 

What is Myrkl? 

A dose of Myrkl is two pills. The company recommends that both pills are taken before drinking, one 12 hours before and one an hour before. It's essentially a probiotic supplement that includes two important healthy bacteria (Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus coagulans) that break down alcohol and turn it into water and carbon dioxide. It also includes the amino acid L-cysteine and vitamin B12

The pills have an acid-resistant capsule that is designed to make sure bacteria isn't released until it reaches the intestine, where most alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream. Something to consider is that the neutralization of alcohol in your bloodstream means you should not experience the short-term effects alcohol has: euphoria and relaxation. By breaking down alcohol so quickly, you will feel the effects for a shorter time. 

Does Myrkl prevent hangovers?

There are several factors at play that contribute to a hangover. Dehydration (what gives you the headache) is one of the most significant factors, though not the only one. Stomach and small intestine irritation from alcohol consumption can also leave many with nausea and a sore stomach the next day. Myrkl is designed to prevent dehydration, but not to prevent the imbalance of electrolytes or impacts on the stomach that alcohol has.

The evidence of the effectiveness of Myrkl currently hinges on one published study that found blood alcohol levels were 70% lower after an hour when taking Myrkl compared to a placebo. But the study has some problems... a lot of problems. 

Limitations of the study include the small sample size with varying results among participants. The study had a sample size of 24 young white adults, but only 14 participants had a blood alcohol level that could be registered. This means that the amount of alcohol given to participants was not enough to register blood alcohol levels in 10 people, which brings into question if they ever would have gotten a hangover in the first place. 

The dosage regimen is another point in the study that leaves a gray area for effectiveness. Participants were instructed to take the pills for a week before drinking the controlled levels of vodka. This is not the dosage recommended for the commercial product -- one 12 hours before drinking and another an hour before. 

I also want to point out that the independently clinically tested trial was funded by DeFaire Medical AB, which also manufactures Myrkl. While this doesn't completely disprove the study's findings, it's worth noting that there are some problems. The fact is research into hangovers is limited. It's not yet clear how truly effective Myrkl is; more research is needed. But we can't say it works off the single study it's based on. 

Young woman with towel on her forehead, starting at empty bottles of alcohol.
Olga Ihnatsyeva/Getty Images

Is it ethical? 

The concept of an anti-hangover pill is great, in theory: Who doesn't want to skip the potential grogginess or headache following a night of drinking? But can this product contribute to alcohol abuse? A supplement that potentially eliminates the outward negative effects of alcohol could encourage more drinking at higher volumes... which could lead to alcoholism. 

Håkan Magnusson, CEO of De Faire Medical, said that Myrkl "is not designed to alleviate the impact of excess consumption, consumers should not use Myrkl as an excuse to consume more alcohol."

Though not intended to encourage unhealthy drinking habits, it could happen. Myrkl doesn't eliminate the damage that excessive alcohol consumption has on the liver. Responsible drinking should always be practiced, with or without Myrkl. 

Too long; didn't read?

Probiotics help maintain a healthy immune system and maintain good digestive health. So it likely won't hurt if you take Myrkl. Just remember that probiotics are classified as a dietary supplement, not a medication... so there aren't as many Food and Drug Administration regulations. If you have a serious medical condition, like a compromised immune system, talk to your doctor before trying it. 

More research is needed to make a final say on the effectiveness of Myrkl. Having a two-pill "cure-all" for hangovers isn't a simple topic. It does raise ethical questions about alcohol abuse and binge drinking that must be considered. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.