6 Natural Ways to Ease a Hangover
By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Hungover? If you were out partying last night ringing in the New Year then you might be! A hangover is a common occurrence during this festive season so we’re here to help you reduce the severity and frequency of the nausea and headaches.
What is a hangover exactly?
A hangover is caused from a variety of biochemical changes that occur during the consumption of excess alcohol (alcohol intoxication). Nobody will argue how unpleasant a hangover can be, it can feel like you have literally poisoned yourself and you literally kind of have.
Some people may experience a hangover from just a few drinks while others drink excessively and come out with a mild situation. There are many reasons why this occurs, such as your own personal tolerance, the less you drink regularly the more it may affect you, hydration during the day, food consumed before and during the occasion, genetics, weight, age and sex. For example, women have less of the alcohol breakdown enzymes (alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH)) than men.
What causes a hangover?
Hangovers may be caused from a combination of dehydration, electrolyte loss, low blood sugar, toxic by-products of alcohol metabolism, glycogen loss (glucose stores become depleted) and tissue inflammation. Alcohol induced hangovers normally occur within 8-16 hours of alcohol consumption
Here are our most helpful tips for naturally curing your hangover today and anytime the fun gets a little out of hand! .
- Drink in Moderation (or not at all!)
If you’re already waking up with a headache, then this tip might be too late but of course this one needs to be mentioned! And it is certainly an obvious one but it makes for a valid point. Social pressure to drink can be tough particularly if you are surrounded with people that drink. New Year’s Eve celebrations and other holidays seem to be a social occasion where some people aim to drink excessively.Drink only to YOUR comfort level to ensure you don’t wake the next morning with a terrible hangover. The more we drink the less we register that we have had too much. Most people will agree that the more you consume the better the idea it seems to be consume even more, oops!
- Eat Well Before, During & After
To support energy levels, liver function, blood sugar levels and hydration it’s important to still work on eating and drinking well at social occasions. If you fill your belly with high nutrient dense food you are less likely to make poor choices and more likely to control excess drinking. This includes before, during and after a social event.
Boring and obvious I know! But it’s important to consume in-between alcohol free drinks to ensure you are adequately hydrated. Hydrate before you go out, during and after.Alcohol dehydrates your tissues and is responsible for many of the symptoms of hangovers. If you are well hydrated you are less likely to experience hangover symptoms and more likely to control excess drinking.
If you find that you have consumed more then you intended or you got a little too excited with all the festivities, it’s important to hydrate before you sleep. This will reduce the symptoms experienced and it will also support the body’s ability to excrete and eliminate the alcohol via the urine, sweat and stool. When you wake, replenish with plenty of electrolytes.
- Choose Alcohol Wisely
Some types of alcohols are known to increase the likelihood of hangovers. During the fermentation and aging process by-products are produced such as methanal, isopentanol and acetone (congeners). These give some alcohols their individual taste. Bourbon has the highest level along with tequila, whiskey and cognac (darker liquids) while the lowest are vodka, gin and rum. Clearer alcohols are associated with reduced severity and frequency of hangovers.
- Make a Healthy Breakfast
This is important for stability of your blood sugar levels, hydration and nutrient intake. This will effectively improve your symptoms and allow your body extra nutrition to support the increased burden on your liver and tissues.People often go for a heavy greasy breakfast, better options are a:
- Fresh juice, this gives you excellent hydration combined with dense phyto-compounds to assist the liver in breaking down the alcohol and rehabilitating the mocro-nutrients in the tissues. Coconut water may also help to rehydrate you quickly! Try our Hangover Juice!
- Healthy fats such as avocado with grilled vegetables – make it plant-based!
- Something naturally sweet such as fruit (freshly juiced or whole) will support alcohol breakdown and helps to replenish the lost glycogen stores in the muscles and liver. Lost sugar stores that alcohol stimulates the release of can be attributed to the aches, lack of coordination and dizziness.
- Eggs for some that choose to eat them, can also assist due to the cysteine content that supports liver detoxification. I highly recommend organic if possible. Soup for breakfast and lunch is another excellent hydrating food that supports nutrient intake.
- Ginger tea can help with nausea, consuming our highly recommended hot lemon with freshly grated ginger can certainly improve nausea, liver function and an uneasy digestive system. I say go for the lot and feel well ASAP.
- Heal with Herbs
Milk Thistle can be taken before you go out, on returning home and again on rising. This herb is a naturally high in antioxidants that are specific for supporting liver inflammation and detoxification.
Other known recommendations that I don’t advise such as ’hair of the dog’ (consuming more alcohol on rising) can reduce the symptoms but further the load on your organs. I suggest avoiding pain killers (if possible) to reduce the extra workload, but if you’re really uncomfortable do all of the above and take as needed.