The best way to cure a hangover is not to get one!
How to PREVENT a hangover:
- 1:1 Have 1 glass of water with each alcoholic drink, this prevents dehydration which causes the hangover headache and slows down rate of drinking. Add lemon for bitter taste to help stimulate the liver to process the toxic by products of alcohol.
- Choose wisely! Avoid sugary mixers as this causes our blood sugar and therefore the hormone “insulin” to spike which feels great for a few minutes and then reactive low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) occurs which feels awful. This also tricks our body into thinking we are hungry and hello late night poutine, pizza… and the cycle continues!
- The best mixers are water or carbonated water, with a squeeze of lemon juice. NOT: tonic water, pop or juice!
- Eat foods like sweet potatoes, quinoa and avocados pre-party because these complex carbohydrates and healthy fats will line the digestive track and slow down alcohol absorption.
- B Vitamins Before! B vitamins are a cofactor needed to breakdown and eliminate alcohol from the body. They are a water soluble vitamin so they are further depleted due to dehydration from drinking. Take a good quality Bcomplex before a night out and again the next morning.
Damage control if you’re already hungover:
- D.I.Y. Halting the Hangover Tea:
- 3-4 slices of ginger root: Ginger is an anti-emetic therefore it helps with nausea and vomiting.
- 1 bag of Milk Thistle Tea: Silymarin the active ingredient in milk thistle is hepatoprotective, and supports liver detoxification and metabolism of alcohol.
- 1-2 cups of boiling water.
- D.I.Y. Hangover Hater Smoothie:
- 3/4 cup coconut water to re-hydrate and get your electrolytes. Most popular sports drinks have a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners and harsh chemicals and dyes that can irritate an already sensitive system.
- Banana: Packed with potassium – an electrolyte lost after an night of drinking, also a good balance of glucose and fructose to re-balance blood sugar.
- 1-2 tbsp almond butter: protein helps to balance blood sugar and vitamin E and healthy fats support the liver.
- 1 inch peeled ginger root for nausea and vomiting.
- 1 tbsp honey: fructose helps metabolize alcohol and it’s antibacterial to help balance gut bacteria.
- Handful of spinach to re-alkalize the body.
- D.I.Y. Hydrotherapy Home Treatment: In the shower do 1 min hot water over full body followed by 30 sec cold water over full body. Vasodilation and constriction of blood vessels outwards toward the skin and then back in towards the organs helps to promote detoxification and after 3 cycles your whole body is buzzing. Make sure you end the cycles on COLD!
For those who are hardcore about getting over a hangover:
- I.V. Vitamin Bag:
- Alcohol blocks absorption of B Vitamins and increases the loss of Zinc, Magnesium and Calcium. Alcohol also destroys vitamin C and other liver detoxifiers like glutathione.
- By having an M.D. or N.D. administer nutrients intravenously, you can achieve far higher concentrations not possible with oral dosing because and the digestive system is bypassed preventing digestive upset.
Hangover Myth Busters:
- Is “the hair of the dog” the best strategy?
- No but it is somewhat valid – a lot of hangover symptoms are really just your body going through withdrawal so having some alcohol the day after a night of drinking can ease withdrawal symptoms but it also places a lot of burden on an already backed up liver and promotes alcohol dependency. NOT RECOMMENDED!
- Is “beer before liquor never been sicker” true?
- False! Hangovers are dependent on the total amount of alcohol consumed, although often people who mix different types of alcohol tend to drink more and therefore experience more hangover symptoms.
- Can coffee help you sober up?
- NO! But as it is a stimulant it can make you feel more sober than you actually are which can be very dangerous and lead to impaired driving. Also caffeine is another thing that the liver has to process when it’s already dealing with last night’s damage!
As a Naturopathic Doctor I always try to treat the root cause of illness which in the case of a hangover is obviously drinking! The only way to insure you don’t get a hangover is not to drink alcohol, however if you decide to drink hopefully these tips help you!
Happy (day-after) St. Patrick’s Day!
Yours in health,
Dr. Aisling Lanigan N.D.