When it comes to hangovers, there's a lot of old wives tales that are used to get rid of morning-after nausea, diarrhea, headache and brain fog. Here are the top ways to recover from a hangover based on your body's physiology and function.
Sounds easy, right!? Don't get a hangover, don't feel sick. Right. Easier said that done, especially at this time of the year (yeah, I'm looking at you, you green-beer-drinking leprechauns).
Stop your hangover before it starts by staying hydrated. Drink 1 cup of water for every beer, shot or glass of wine you consume. Eventually, if you keep consuming alcohol, your body will shut down some of the hormones that help keep you hydrated, you'll pee out everything you drink. To correct the water imbalance induced by binge drinking, consume water before bed. Chug back 2-4 cups of water (if you can stomach it) before you hit the hay and place a full glass of water (or better yet, a water bottle) beside your bed.
Your body will wake you up in the night if you get dehydrated or have low blood sugar. Dehydration at night is actually one very basic reason for unexplained insomnia. If you wake up in the middle of the night, reach over and gulp back as much water as you can stomach. Make sure you urinate if you've got the urge. Try to make it to the bathroom first.
EAT! Before you start drinking, consume a proper meal with protein, fiber and fat. A digestive tract full of these nutrients helps slow the absorption of alcohol into your system. You're less likely to overindulge if your blood alcohol concentration stays more stable.
IF YOU WAKE UP HUNGOVER - remember, you're experiencing withdrawal symptoms from alcohol. You're dehydrated, because that's what alcohol does to your body. You have a headache because you're dehydrated AND because alcohol has messed with your hormones and caused inflammation. You're pooping and puking because you're body is trying to get stuff OUT.
Sweating it out is NOT your answer. If you love a good workout when you're hungover, then make sure you hydrate. Consume extra water, or consider making your own electrolyte replacement drink. You can also try coconut water (if you like it) to add some electrolytes into your system.
CAN'T STOP POOPING/PUKING?
If you're pooping your guts out, or puking for that matter, try some chammomile tea, green-ish bananas and a probiotic supplement (not yogurt, an actual supplement). The chammomile tea soothes an angry stomach while the green bananas give you fiber, potassium and will soak up toxins in your guts to stop diarrhea. The probiotic replenishes the healthy gut bacteria that should be in your GI tract.
CAN'T I JUST TAKE A TYLENOL?
NO. No you can't. Tylenol will anger your already impaired liver. If you must take something for a headache, go for ibuprofen, although this type of medication long-term and in high doses can wreak havoc on your stomach's lining. If you take ibuprofen, take it with food.
OK THEN, WHAT CAN I TAKE?
Vitamin B6 and Melatonin have the most data for improving the hormonal disruption caused by alcohol. Melatonin before bed will help you fall asleep (in case you slept the day away) and will re-set your circadian (sleep-wake) cycle. There is limited data concerning B-vitamins and hangovers. Some people swear by taking a B-complex to ease their hangover, but the jury is out on its effectiveness. We know that B-vitamins are water soluble and if you're peeing a whole lot, you're going to lose some water-soluble vitamins. Is one night of heavy drinking enough to cause deficiency? No. Might you benefit from supplementing the next day? Maybe. If you do take a B-complex, be sure to check with your healthcare provider or ND to make sure it will not impact other health conditions. Always take B-vitamins with food.
If you're a tea person, steep a cup of green tea to help your liver out. Green tea facilitates liver detoxification pathways that will help your body recover from a hangover. Dandelion or nettle tea can also boost your liver's function and have the added benefit of calming the nervous system. Turmeric is also a great spice to add to your smoothies, teas and meals post-overindulgence. This rad yellow spice is a super anti-inflammatory food AND protects your liver from damage. Mix a tablespoon of turmeric into a smoothie or add to warm water with lemon and a bit of honey for a tasty anti-inflammatory beverage.
Any other hangover cures you'd like me to research? What do YOU swear by? Tell me in the comments.