(It’s not the movie!)
Almost 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 with beer and tequila with a few martinis and a shot of whiskey, but by the next morning, you may regret your choice.
The dreaded hangover will have set in. 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.
Many of the quick fixes 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. There is no one size fits all cure, but the list below is a good place to start and you will need to find what works for you.
The most effective remedy for hangovers is quite obvious – drink in moderation. 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. But you are reading this because sometimes you need something a little more effective.
The signs and symptoms of a hangover generally start to occur when the drinker’s blood alcohol drops considerably – typically, the morning after a night party. They generally include the following.
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Bloodshot eyes
- Body and muscle aches
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Lethargy, tiredness, fatigue, listlessness
- Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
- Problems focusing or concentrating
- Sensitivity to loud sounds
- Depression (dysphoria)
- Sleepiness, or a feeling of sleep deprivation
- Trembling or shakiness, erratic motor functions
A hangover is the consequence of having consumed too much alcohol. The typical causes are:
Dehydration – Alcohol makes people urinate more, which raises the chances of dehydration occurring. Dehydration can give the individual that sensation of thirst and lightheadedness.
Immune system response – There may be an inflammatory response by the immune system to alcohol, which may affect appetite, concentration, and memory.
Stomach irritation – Alcohol consumption raises the production of stomach acids; it also slows down the rate at which the stomach empties itself – this combination can lead to nausea, vomiting, and stomachache.
Drop in blood sugar – For some, blood sugar levels can fall steeply when they consume alcohol, resulting in shakiness, moodiness, tiredness, general weakness, and even seizures in some cases.
Dilation of blood vessels – Alcohol consumption can cause the blood vessels to dilate, which can cause headaches.
Sleep quality – Although sleeping when drunk is common, the quality of that sleep may be poor. The individual may wake up tired and still sleepy.
Congeners – These are substances that are produced during fermentation and are responsible for most of the taste and aroma in distilled drinks (whisky, gin, etc). They are known to contribute to symptoms of a hangover. Examples of congeners include esters and aldehydes.
Eat A Banana: As simple as it sounds, this potassium-packed fruit may be an effective remedy. Excess alcohol stimulates you to urinate, which means that you are draining your body of essential nutrients like potassium. Banana is potassium rich and 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.
Ginger: 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.
Honey: It is one of the simplest and easily available home remedies. It has potent powers to neutralize the harmful effects of alcohol, thanks to the presence of fructose, which competes with the metabolism of alcohol. Honey also helps in the digestion of alcohol inside a person’s body.
Chicken Soup: This is easy on the stomach, yet filling. However, a better solution is to make your own chicken or beef stock, 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.
Lemon: Lemon juice or lemon tea is a popular home remedy for hangovers. It helps to assimilate alcohol and provides instant relief. The best trait of lemon is that it makes a gentle medicine that can be taken on a possibly upset stomach.
Tomato: Tomato juice contains fructose, a type of sugar that helps your body metabolize alcohol faster. This is why dehydration caused due to a hangover can be compensated by taking freshly prepared tomato juice or soup.
Water: 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. 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.
Natural Juices: 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. 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.
Cabbage: Cabbage can also act as a wonderful healer of the hangover. Extract juice from a cabbage and mix it with a little tomato juice. Cabbage helps stabilize blood glucose levels.
Sleep: When you drink excessively and then pass out in bed, your body generally doesn’t get a chance to enter REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM state is when your body restores itself and when you are most deeply at rest. Crawl back into bed and catch a few more hours of sleep.
Eat Healthy: 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.
Other Options: 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.
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.