Most of us who drink alcoholic beverages on occasion have over-indulged and most often paid for our excesses by being cursed with a nasty hangover. It might be argued that the bleary-eyed, queasy, head-aching morning after is a just reward for not exercising better judgment and restraint. However, even though we know better, hangovers do occasionally happen to some of us. Using a bit of common sense and natural remedies can help prevent future hangovers and take the bite out of the ones that do happen.
Hangover symptoms include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dysphoria, diarrhea and thirst, typically after the intoxicating effects of the alcohol begin to wear off. Symptoms may persist for several days after alcohol was last consumed. Hypoglycemia, dehydration, acetaldehyde intoxication, glutamine rebound, and vitamin B12 deficiency are all believed to be causes of hangover symptoms,
Here are some commonsense guidelines and natural remedies to use to prevent hangovers:
* Obviously the best way to prevent a hangover is to avoid heavy alcohol consumption. Try to alternate with a glass of water between drinks and avoid sugary, flavored drinks that can mask the amount of alcohol consumed. Drinking a tangy drink can help stop the urge for alcohol, such as tomato with lemon juice, and a dash of cayenne pepper added.
* To avoid hangover or at least lessen the symptoms, don’t drinking on an empty stomach. If you have been drinking, rehydrate by consuming 2-3 large glasses of water before you go to bed. Drinking alcohol is very dehydrating and rehydrating helps counteract its effects.
*Sports drinks are usually high in electrolytes and can help replenish what the kidneys have excreted during drinking. Take before bedtime. Note however, that most commercial sports drinks may contain unhealthy items such as high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and more. Find a recipe for a healthy and delicious natural sports drink below.
To reduce morning after pain, drink a large glass of water before you go to bed, take a B-complex supplement that supplies at least 50 mg of niacin, and take a liquid bitters preparation. Look for products that contain dandelion, gentian, mugwort, or Angostura bitters in water with a little honey (raw organic is best).
Another suggestion is to use wheatgrass, a natural detoxifier. The chlorophyll in wheatgrass helps clear toxins, heal the intestines and maintain a healthy pH balance. In addition, it delivers powerful antioxidants and enzymes to support the body. Drink a glass at the end of the night and then again the morning after to further detox and energize.
Acetaldehyde is a digestive byproduct of alcohol that is a major cause of hangovers. Bifidus is a “friendly” bacteria contained in Ultrabiotic that detoxifies acetaldehyde. Take before going to bed. The seeds of the herb milk thistle (silymarin) have a long history of protecting the liver. Take 70 to 120 mg once before drinking.
- American Indians claim that eating 6 raw almonds before imbibing helps prevent intoxication.
- Evening primrose oil helps prevent hangovers. Take two teaspoons before going to bed.
- Prickly pear cactus extract is also reported to be effective as both a preventive and remedy
Note: Avoid taking over the counter pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen before or after a hangover. All of them can have dangerous side effects when combined with alcohol, including excessive blood thinning, stomach bleeding, and liver damage.
Eliminate built up toxins. Hot baths are great, especially with added Epsom salts to help you relax, relieve aches and restore lost magnesium. A sauna is likewise great and so is exercise or a brisk walk.
A remedy which usually gets rid of hangovers quickly is a banana and honey milkshake. Bananas calm the stomach, and with the honey, build up depleted blood sugar levels. Bananas are rich in magnesium and potassium, important electrolytes which are depleted by alcohol.
Dandelion root helps gently relieve constipation and stomach aches, and stimulates the liver for better alcohol metabolism. Dandelion is a good source of antioxidants that help repair damage from excess alcohol. Steep 1 to 2 tsp of dried root in 1 cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink a cup in the morning and another in the evening.
Hot peppers contain the pain-relieving compound capsaicin. Try dried, ground peppers or powdered cayenne in a glass of tomato juice the morning after. But keep this Bloody Mary a virgin – fighting a hangover with another drink delays recovery and may increase the severity of the following hangover. You can also take a pinch or two of cayenne in food.
As noted earlier in this article, milk thistle (silymarin) protects the liver. It also helps remove toxins. Frequent drinkers and recovering alcoholics should take milk thistle daily. Typical dosage is 70-120 mg three times daily.
And remember that Grandma’s old stand-by, chicken soup, seems to work as well for hangover problems as it does for colds.