if the evening was a blur of fun and alcohol, food and a late bedtime, but the next morning is a blur of sensitivity to bright lights, loud sounds, head throbbing, stomach sour and energy missing, you have a hangover. these reminders from the night before have been the bane of over-indulgers’ mornings for many hundreds of years. despite this age-old problem, experts are still unsure exactly what causes them to be so bad for some people and not for others, and how they affect the body, apart from the obvious symptoms.
It is thought that the impurities in some alcoholic drinks cause the toxicity, and the sweeter and darker the drink, the more impurities it may contain. These toxic substances are possibly the culprits for the nausea and headaches. Staying with clear or light colored drinks may reduce the toxic load on the body.
dehydration is another cause for hangover symptoms.
Since dehydration is caused by the diuretic action of alcohol, hydration is especially important. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated between cocktails. Drink lots of water in the morning to rehydrate and flush out the impurities.
alcohol contains ethanol and your body has to metabolize it.
In doing so, you are converting ethanol into acetaldehyde and acetate in your liver. Your liver can convert one ounce of liquor per hour, and if this is increased your liver may allow more into the bloodstream since it cannot keep up. When more toxins are allowed to escape into your system than normal, your metabolism cannot keep up with your consumption. This action reduces your levels of natural killer cells – which is your immune system. The results are similar to a virus – aches, pains, shakes, nausea, and more, as if your body is fighting off an infection, which is why we tend to reach for the aspirins. This is actually adding insult to injury since this can worsen the damage to your stomach lining, and even cause bleeding. So a natural approach is better, and a good detoxifying and hydrating cure is going to make you feel better faster. Take vitamins to replace those you lost in the evening. Honey can ease some of symptoms, and carbs are comforting to a slightly upset stomach, offering a bit of sustainable energy. Metro Integrative offers a good selection of vitamins, essential oils, soothing drinks to replenish the electrolytes, and ginger for the nausea. While alcohol comes to mind for the worst of hangovers, we can also suffer rich food over-indulgences and feel miserable after too much in the dietary area.
Essential oils can ease the multiple symptoms of a hangover, both for alcohol and rich foods. Fennel oil is a good detox, and helps to boost the kidney functions in removing toxins. Apply to skin with a carrier oil, such as almond or jojoba. Ginger oil has a warming action, and is soothing to the stomach, its properties include pain relief for any spasms or cramping. Lavender oil is calming and helps to reduce headaches. Enjoy it in an aromatherapy diffuser by adding a few drops in water, or in a carrier oil massaged into the temples. Lemon oil is uplifting, and in tests it has shown to increase dopamine and serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitters. Black pepper, marjoram and peppermint are also excellent to apply to the abdominal area, with carrier oils for pain relief, bloating or other digestive issues.
Homeopathic remedies work well to counteract the indigestion, nausea, bloating and headache from a hangover or overeating rich foods. Nux Vomica works well against the alcohol hangover and Carbo Vegetabilis for overdoing the rich foods.
advice for the best natural hangover cures:
First, let me say there is no real hangover “cure.”
There is, however, a natural way to feel better. If you have a hangover, the damage has already been done, and after that it is possible to feel better sooner, without inflicting more damage by adding headache pills and antacids which do little for your sour stomach.
Prepare for a night of partying by consuming a good meal before going out.
This ensures that the alcohol takes longer to be absorbed into the blood. Take a shot of wheatgrass or a green shake, vitamins C and B-Complex before the party to add to your protection, and make sure to stay hydrated to avoid any hangover.
If you do wake up hungover and feeling nauseous from too much of everything, ginger is a great tummy tamer. Try a soothing tea, with either the root boiled for 20 minutes or a ready prepared ginger tea. NAC, or N-acetyl cysteine is another detox product to take. It comes from the amino acid L-cysteine, which are the building blocks of proteins, and also used to prevent liver damage. NAC has many uses as a medicine and can be used to treat certain poisoning, such as alcohol and acetaminophen by binding the poisonous forms that are formed in the liver. It is also an antioxidant, so it helps as a preventative. The next morning, milk thistle and magnesium will counteract the toxins in your liver. Peppermint tea can help to reduce bloating and indigestion from too much rich food. Try essential oils, as well, for topical applications and aromatherapy, and homeopathic remedies for gentle and safe cures.
Come in to get remedies to be prepared and have on hand for the morning after, just in case. Ask for the best remedy to keep for occasional over-indulgences. Most of all, have a happy and healthy Holiday Season.
Sally Warren, PhD
Board Certified Traditional Naturopathic Doctor,
Metro Integrative Pharmacy
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. The information in this article is for educational purposes only.