Whether it is a birthday party, a wedding reception, a random Tuesday evening that gets out of hand, or your bi-monthly way of blowing off steam with your friends, nearly everyone has had “one of those nights” where they drank a bit too much alcohol. At the time, it may seem like a good idea to finish your night of Mexican food, beer and tequila with a few martinis and a shot of whiskey, but by the next morning, you may regret your choice. The dreaded hangovers will have set in.
Hangovers can range from mild fatigue, decreased cognitive function, and a slight ache in your temples to a savage migraine, furiously upset stomach, nausea, light sensitivity, dizziness, exhaustion, muscle aches, inability to eat, get out of bed, or think clearly. Obviously, the severity of your hangover depends on a number of factors, including the amount and type of alcohol and food you consumed, how much water you drank, your body’s general health, your weight, your metabolic speed, the functionality of your liver, and a wide range of other contributing factors.
When you are suffering from a particularly vicious hangover, it is difficult to concentrate on anything besides getting rid of the pain and discomfort, and since alcohol is consumed in every continent and by almost every cultural group, this problem has thousands of supposed solutions. Many of the home remedies that people suggest may sound quite strange, and many of them are absolutely useless. However, there are a number of well-documented and proven home remedies for eliminating your post-drinking consequence. Below, we explain a number of these remedies, and why they are so effective.
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Home Remedies for Hangovers
The most effective remedies for hangovers are quite obvious…drink in moderation so your body is not filled with the excess toxins that affect your other bodily processes. Your body can metabolize and eliminate the toxins, but it takes time, so when an unusually large amount of alcohol is in the body, your system becomes overwhelmed, and a hangover occurs. Therefore, the second solution besides moderation is time, because eventually, no matter how bad a hangover is, it will go away. That being said, you are reading this because sometimes, moderation and time are not satisfactory solutions, and you need something a little more effective.
As simple as it sounds, this potassium-packed fruit may just be your best friend on those painful mornings after drinking. Excess alcohol stimulates you to urinate, which means that you are draining your body not only of liquids, but also essential nutrients like potassium. Potassium provides you with energy and lowers blood pressure, which can exacerbate pounding headaches. Also, with increased oxygenation and easier blood flow around the body, toxins can be eliminated faster, and your fuzzy thought processes will clear up as your brain gets the essential nutrients and oxygen that it needs to function.
One of the most debilitating parts of a hangover are the nausea and vomiting. This is not only unpleasant, but also very bad for your throat, gums, and teeth, since much of the vomit will be acidic and full of stomach bile. To reduce nausea and vomiting, ginger has been used for thousands of years, initially as a solution for seasickness. Therefore ginger ale or brewing a pot of ginger tea can do wonders for easing your upset stomach and reducing the sensation of nausea or the chances of making another run for the bathroom.
You don’t necessarily lose all the vitamins and nutrients in your body when you drink, but repairing damage to your liver and detoxifying the body does drain your systems of their essential elements. Therefore, a vitamin-packed supplement like kombucha is a perfect way to get back to normal and on your feet. Kombucha can be purchased at health food stores, but if you plan ahead for a big night of drinking, you can even make it at home. It is actually a fermented version of sweetened tea that contains various yeast cultures and bacteria that have a strong, positive influence on the body. You place a kombucha mushroom in a sugary black, white, or green tea in a large container and let it ferment for a week or two. Be sure that it is sealed well, to prevent the development of mold or other bacteria that you don’t want. When the culture begins to grow, you can separate off the layers and place it in new containers for further development for future hangovers. You can repeat this process indefinitely. Kombucha is packed with acetic acid, butyric acid, B-vitamins, glucuronic acid (liver detoxifier), lactic acid, malic acid, and oxalic acid. This massive compilation of beneficial acids being put back into your body can help you feel better very quickly, and boost the repair from any damage you may have done in your bout of drinking.
This has long been used as a solution for people who aren’t feeling well, because it is easy on the stomach, yet filling. However, a better solution is to make your own chicken or beef stock out of high-quality chicken or beef (which the cans and cartons of chicken stock do NOT contain), mix in some vegetables and sea salt and let it simmer. It usually takes 4-6 hours to make a truly good chicken stock, so it is a good way to prepare for a hangover and plan ahead. This will be ripe with necessary vitamins and nutrients from the veggies and chicken that will reorient your systems and balance the nutrients in your body.
Hot Toddy (Non-Alcoholic)
Although now this beverage has developed a reputation for including alcohol, the original drink was hot water, honey, and lemons. Any sugar you consume on the day after a hangover should be fructose, rather than sucrose, which is found in white sugar. Honey is a perfect source of fructose, and it metabolizes the toxins from alcohol much quicker than sucrose does. Therefore, the lemons act as antioxidants to eliminate toxins from the body, the water replenishes your decreased fluids, and the fructose neutralizes the toxins as it is absorbed into the body. All together, it makes for one effective remedy!
This might be an obvious one, but drinking water is the best way to prevent and treat a hangover. It is recommended to drink at least two glasses of water when going to bed after drinking excessively, but if you can’t make it to the sink the night before, make sure you are consistently drinking water during the hangover. Alcohol has a serious dehydrating effect on the body, not to mention the excessive urination which has also dried the body out. Your hangover symptoms will fade much faster with 5 or 6 glasses of water flowing through your body, moving the toxins along, and flushing them out of the body.
Despite the fact that alcohol has a lot of sugar in it, by the time the hangover has hit, that sugar will have been used up. Along with water, be sure to drink some freshly-squeezed juice, which will resupply your body with sugar, antioxidants, and natural electrolytes like those found in sports drinks. If you stomach is upset, avoid highly acidic fruits like oranges, and go for apple juice instead. You want to put vitamin B and C back in your body, so fruit juice like tangerine, grapefruit, guava, or even strawberry juice is perfect. Smoothies also work great if you don’t want to go through the trouble of squeezing fruit juice when your head is pounding!
It may be comforting to eat junk food and pizza the night after a serious binge of drinking, but that is not going to help you feel better faster. With the exception of some simple sugars from fruit or honey, don’t indulge in sugar-rich foods. You should eat fresh vegetables and high-protein foods, as well as healthy fats. High protein-foods like eggs are also common cures for hangovers for this reason.Most importantly, and what many people forget, eat cultured food, meaning food that is grown using bacterial cultures like yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha. The beneficial bacteria that remain in this food will greatly increase your chances of feeling better faster, and get your stomach back to its natural comfort levels.
In terms of home remedies, you are somewhat limited by your willingness to cook something, or to go buy groceries or beverages. There are a number of beneficial supplements and tablets you can take, most notably liver tablets, and B vitamin supplements. Things like sources of vitamin-C, honey, tea, and water should be relatively easy to access at home, but if you are fresh out of good supplies at home and want fast relief, a health food store for some dietary supplements is always an option.
A Few Words of Caution
The occasional hangover is okay, but don’t forget that alcohol can have long-term and serious effects on your health in a wide variety of ways, including alcoholism, liver cirrhosis, cancer, premature aging, and cognitive malfunction, not to mention the potentially harmful effects that frequent overindulgence in alcohol can have on your personal and professional life. Also, a common suggestion for treatment of a hangover is to have another drink; while this does provide temporary relief, it is only extending the problem, and further robbing your body of nutrients and hydration that it desperately needs. Have fun and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive.
However, as mentioned, life happens, and with it comes hangovers. Now you know a few ways to get back on your feet.