natural remedies to prevent a hangover

With all the holidays there are just as many holiday parties and impromptu outings with lots of drinks and party favors. It’s awesome to throw back a few drinks and get saucy! The only problem is the morning hangover– ugh! Who wants that? One night of fun and a day or two of pain and suffering. So, here are some of the best ways to help yourself out of a killer hangover in the morn with a little bit of prevention! And by the way, this is a list with a lot of great information on it– so grab a pen and paper and get ready to love your liver (and then go party). 🙂

The obvious helpers
1. WATER!
Alcohol is a diuretic– so the more you drink, the more water is flushed from you system. If you don’t replenish the water, you’ll get dehydrated. If you’re dehydrated two things will happen: 1) headache and sickness from dehydration and 2) an accumulation of the toxins alcohol creates in your body. So drink lots of water!

2. MUTLI-VITAMIN!
Because alcohol is a diuretic, many minerals and vitamins are flushed out of your system before you can “assimilate” or use them. So, take a multi-vitamin before you drink to make sure you have enough essential nutrients to keep your body working smoothly. Even a little deficiency can set a slew of processes off track so nutrients will keep everything running optimally even if half of them are flushed away from the alcohol.

3. B-VITAMINS!
Speaking of vitamins– if you seriously want to avoid a hangover, these are some of the best to take! Drinking stresses your body out which depletes the stores of B vitamins in your system. To replenish the B vitamins wards against hangover from stress.

4. EAT SOMETHING FIRST!
If you eat before you drink, the alcohol will be processed more evenly and slowly. This means that instead of having a crazy onslaught of alcohol right when you start your night, the toxins will get inter-mingled with the food and be eliminated through other means as well. Alcohol especially loves binding to fat so if your meal included a “fatty” food before you started drinking, the fat and alcoholic toxins will bind together and the negative effects will be less intense.

5. SLEEP!
Alcohol may make you pass out, but it decreases the REM state of sleep (dreams). It can shorten all the stages of sleep and disrupt the cycles which really means that your body doesn’t get the proper cycling that it needs. That makes you feel groggy in the morning (like you’re tired but you can’t sleep) and eventually causes problems from irregular sleep patters like poor concentration, poor memory, anxiety, tiredness, and irritability (to name a very select few). So take some extra naps and give yourself a good night’s sleep the night after you go and party.  Having an extra day to recuperate afterward is always a good move as well.

your herbal allies
5. LIVER HELPERS
The liver breaks down alcohol and all sorts of substances that enter the body. The liver gets taxed from all the stuff coming into its system (it’s like Finals week for the liver when you go out drinking) and can get overloaded. When the liver gets overloaded, it just stores everything as fat. A fatty liver doesn’t work very well and is the beginning stages of cirrhosis so support your liver with these herbs:

  • MILK THISTLE– silymarin the active component coats the liver cells to help protect them from deleterious invaders and toxins– it’s like a liver cell body guard. 🙂
  • LICORICE– this herb makes all the bitter tasting liver herbs much sweeter in taste and has the added bonus of neutralizing liver toxins. It also combats stress (hence the sweet taste) which alcohol in excessive amounts causes.
  • GINGER– ginger helps improve digestion in the body and also helps you assimilate any herbs you’re taking better. It’s been shown that the liver breaks down compounds so well that it breaks down herbs and their medicinal properties! Ginger helps protect the herbs so they pass through the liver in tact and any supportive liver herbs you’re taking can more effectively support the liver organ!
  • DANDELION– this is one of the best detox agents that helps remove waste, toxins, and pollutants from the liver, gall bladder, and stimulates the kidneys (along with the liver and gallbladder) to help get rid of all the harmful garbage in the body in general and definitely after drinking.

Mix these ingredients all together for a healthy tea to help your lovely liver after all the festivities. There are many more herbs to support the liver– these 4 only scratch the surface! For now, what about when you have an icky hangover?!

Hangovers have a few different causes, aside from toxic accumulation and deficiencies (sleep, vitamins, water…) other things can make you feel like a truck ran you over the day after you felt you were flying from rooftops.

6. HEADACHE
Alcohol relaxes blood vessels which means they dilate to levels that are wide (vasodilation) for a period of time that begins to become uncomfortable.  Because of the increased blood flow to the brain it can cause a throbbing headache.  Anything that will constrict the blood vessels will help reduce the headache.  Some herbs and remedies:

  • COLD WATER! A dip in the ocean, a cold shower, or an ice pack on the head will totally constrict the blood vessels.  It will also push out toxins and stimulate lymph to help squeeze out all the accumulated waste.
  • WILLOW/MEADOWSWEET: these two herbs are the original forms of aspirin!  So when  you have a headache, you usually have the desire to pop some aspirin or acetominophen.  Don’t bother with harmful over the counter drugs– both these drugs are harmful to the already overburdened liver and can cause ulcers in the stomach!  If you take white willow or meadowsweet you get the benefits of aspirin (from the component salicin) while also getting the built-in protectants in those herbs which include tannins for anti-ulceration amongst others.

7. ULCERS & TUMMY IRRITATION
Alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach and can cause or exacerbate ulcers.  Luckily, there are many herbs that can help soothe the stomach lining of which a few are:

  • GINGER– ginger helps to soothe the stomach muscles and lining with anti-inflammatory actions, it aids digestion and it also reduces nausea, cold sweats, vomiting and dizziness.  It boosts the suppressed immune system too!
  • PEPPERMINT– helps soothe the stomach, relax the digestive muscles, stimulate digestion and reduces nausea.
  • CHAMOMILE– this herb is calming as well as a smooth muscle relaxer like peppermint.

8. ACIDOSIS
The body becomes super acidic from drinking because of decreased vitamins, nutrients, minerals, water and an abundance of toxins.  If you imagine dumping a bunch of garbage in a river during a drought, you might see how the garbage starts to clog the dwindling river.   Instead of things being able to move quickly and seamlessly throughout the river, things start to accumulate, move slowly, and might even back up and get stuck.  This is what happens to the body– when the blood becomes clogged with toxins, the side effects of the alcohol become apparent especially when you’re no longer feeling euphoric.

The body gets overloaded because:

  • 1) alcohol is a diuretic which causes you to flush, flush, flush water out of the body and can lead to dehydration (especially if you don’t normally drink the requisite 8 glasses of 8 oz of water a day!).  The body needs water to run efficiently and optimally.  Without enough of it, the body becomes acidic and breaks down.
  • 2) alcohol reduces nutrient uptake.  Even a small deficiency can cause the body to become acidic.  This means that when you’re flushing out nutrients and not intaking any additional nutrients, the body processes run poorly and toxins accumulate.
  • 3) the oxygen in the body, due to vasodilation is being directed to other parts of the body (like the peripheral arteries and capillaries to make you feel warm) and out of the organs and other parts of the body that keep the garbage moving on out.  So, without the extra oxygen to support these processes, things move much more slowly.

To combat this, all of the above remedies will help in addition to including some alkalizing foods like:

  • Lemon Juice. squeeze some into your water throughout the day to help the body reach equilibrium faster.
  • Himalayan Pink Sea Salt.  Don Tolman recommends dendritic sea salt from the Great Salt Lake which would also be great!  Himalayan Pink Sea Salt is also readily available so this will do for most people!  There are 86 trace minerals in pink sea salt which can act as electrolytes to help re-balance your inner balance.  Include less than a 1/4 teaspoon in about a gallon of water to drink to help facilitate this normalizing process.  The salt helps retain water and is actually a necessary mineral.  The problem is that most salt is lacking life and minerals.
  • Vegetables and Fruits.  Any fresh vegetables and fruits will help you to feel great!  Aside from the fact that they contain lots of minerals and vitamins, these foods also are alkalizing and help the body re-balance itself.  Eat raw or lightly steamed, blend into a smoothie or juice!

9. ANTIOXIDANTS
When you drink, the body gets loaded up with free radicals.  Even though both free and radical sounds awesome, it’s not that great!  Free radicals mean negatively charged particles that are looking for an extra electron.  Antioxidants help combat the marauding free radicals by providing the extra electron at no damage.  Most of these remedies provide you with antioxidants but here are some super charged antioxidants:

  • RAW CHOCOLATE (called cacao.  You can find this at the health food stores.  Even dark chocolate sans any dairy is helpful and high in antioxidants.  Plus it’s all chocolate!)
  • GOJI BERRIES (any berry, though not as high as goji berries, will be full of antioxidants).
  • VITAMIN C SUPPLEMENTS (take 1000mg or more)
  • ACAI (antioxidant super star!)
  • any vegetables and fruits (yup! the veggies save the day again!  This time try to eat them raw.  If you must, very gently steam.  My favorite ways to get veggies are to blend or juice them. 🙂

10. MAGNESIUM
Your body loses magnesium when you drink and magnesium plays an important role in the body’s processes.  Drinking a magnesium supplement (like Natural Calm Magnesium- Calcium) really helps you feel much better. Mix a tablespoon or so in with a 8-16oz water (depending on your preferences and needs) and drink up! Magnesium supplements sometimes get a bad rap because they can increase “stools” and elimination but when you think about it– you want to eliminate!  So a little extra help at the benefit of a reduced hangover is totally worth it.

There are so many great ways to help improve your physical state of being after a night of too much fun.  Just to review:

Before you drink:

  • drink water
  • take a multi-vitamin, extra vitamin C, and especially B-vitamins.
  • eat something before you drink.
  • take some herbs before you drink (or somewhere during the night): milk thistle, dandelion, licorice, and ginger

After you drink:

  • sleep off your hangover
  • take a cold shower
  • take some herbs for nausea and tummy trouble: ginger, chamomile, peppermint
  • take some willow and or meadowsweet for the headache
  • drink some magnesium supplement
  • include some lemon juice and himalayan pink sea salt in some of your water
  • eat lots of fruits and vegetables (if eating isn’t your thing, drink them in a smoothie or juice)
  • get some antioxidants in your system with raw chocolate, goji berries, acai, and fruits and vegetables.

The best way is to obviously not drink to the point of getting drunk (or if you’re a “cheap date” then avoid alcohol entirely) but that’s not always fun or preferable.  Pick some of the tips out of here and watch how much better you’ll feel before and afterward.  If I could pick any for you, it’d be the liver supporting herbs and B-vitamins but I’ve personally had success with all of the above and the research more or less verifies what I’m putting out there.

As with anything, use your own judgement.  This isn’t a “cure-all” but a helpful guide to reducing any of the horrible after-effects of drinking too much.  Certain pre-existing conditions might be exacerbated by some of the things on this list so please use your own intelligence when making choices to follow this advice– i.e. if you’re allergic to aspirin it’s probably not a good idea to take willow or meadowsweet.  Any questions, leave ’em in the comments section and I’ll answer you right away.

Have a fabulous New Years!  Bring in 2012 without the physical torture. 🙂

-sarah

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